The University at Buffalo's CBLS is paving the way for prosperity in our region, playing a pivotal role in connecting researchers, businesses and other key players in the growing life sciences industry to help spur economic development.
Chronicle LifeSci America Corp. (CLSA), a subsidiary of Chronicle Companies of Canada, pledges to share “ideas in the service of medicine” by providing doctors with credible and useful information in the form of journals, conferences, continuing education series and web portals.
When Chronicle was established in Toronto in 1995, digital technologies such as e-health records and expanding Internet knowledge sources were beginning to become more commonly used in community medical practice and in the life sciences industries. Recognizing the trend, Chronicle sought to use emerging and legacy technologies to facilitate discussion and information dissemination in the health sciences. Since the company’s formation, they have been doing just that: providing practical information on new discoveries and therapies to general practitioners, pediatricians, dermatologists, plastic surgeons, ENT specialists, psychiatrists and neurologists, with an aim of creating better patient health outcomes for patients.
Recently, Chronicle launched www.Derm.City, an online resource for dermatologists, as part of their role as the official information provider at the 23rd World Congress of Dermatology in Vancouver.
Shortly after the World Congress, Chronicle’s CLSA unit was established in Buffalo, N.Y., where the company plans to base Derm.City, along with other communications initiatives for doctors.
According to CLSA president Mitchell Shannon, the company selected Buffalo over other potential U.S. sites because of the “talented scholarly and IT communities, welcoming environment and the vibrant climate for entrepreneurship” that UB has established.
After being accepted in the START-UP NY program with UB sponsorship in 2015, CLSA located in the New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences (CBLS) in January of 2016. Shannon credits Kim Grant, business development executive for the CBLS, for helping their company navigate the programs and processes at UB, as well as across the United States. Shannon and Chronicle co-owner Allan Ryan also credit Buffalo’s strong ecosystem partners including Karen Utz, director, program administration for UB’s Office of Economic Development, R.J. Ball of Empire State Development, and Alan Rosenhoch, business development manager for Invest Buffalo Niagara, as valuable resources aiding in their decision to locate in Buffalo.
Robert A. Leteste, formerly commercialization coordinator for the CBLS, recently joined CLSA in the role of Associate Publisher. The company is looking for other key hires as it ramps up four different projects, including digital and print journals and a business-to-business publication. CLSA anticipates close collaborations with faculty of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
According to Ryan: “UB is recognized as a center of thought leadership in the life sciences. A dividend of being here is that it has enabled us to become neighbors and friends with world figures in medicine, such as Dr. Animesh A. Sinha, Professor and Chair of the Department of Dermatology.”
Shannon says he is excited to start the next chapter of Chronicle LifeSci America’s story in Buffalo where, he believes, “everything is possible, where the future is being created.”
Bill Rader, CEO of Efferent Labs (fka Raland Therapeutics), a preclinical state biotechnology company focused on implantable biosensors, credits many of his accomplishments to creating solid networks. Rader’s story started with Raland Technologies over 18 years ago, a consulting company for pharmaceutical companies that provided everything from clinical auditing to standard operating procedures and compliance testing, helping take early stage products through to patient delivery.
In 2009, Rader’s life took an unexpectedly turn when he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Turning a negative into a positive, Rader soon identified a problem with routine infusion therapies and started to develop prototypes and discuss solutions with outside companies. A couple years later, Rader experienced a flare-up with his multiple sclerosis, and subsequently spent time in the Mayo Clinic, where he had time to reflect and refocused his goals by talking with clinicians. Rader shared his vision with countless individuals, knowing that once they understood his objectives they could help expand his network and pass him onto the next person.
At a networking event in 2011, Rader had the good fortune of being introduced to Dr. Spencer Rosero, a cardiologist at the University of Rochester Medical Center, who had a patent involving implantable biological chips. Following those conversations, Rader and Rosero joined forces to develop a new technology called CytoComm, a miniature sensors that is implanted in the body to detect and measure biological variables to detect the presence of disease and gauge the efficacy of medical treatments.
Rader has concentrated on the biopharma sector, because the only thing that stays the same, is people continue to get sick. Rader’s success is based on his drive and passion and a simple mantra - “networking, networking, networking.” Rader said if it wasn’t for UB’s CBLS Business Development Executive Kim Grant encouraging him to apply to 43North, he wouldn’t be in the place he is today, having secured $500,000 funding and mentorship as a finalist of the 2014 business plan competition.
Rader also participated in UB's Bright Buffalo Niagara Entrepreneur Expo, Innovation Lecture Series, BIO International and even received funding through UB’s Center for Advanced Biomedical and Bioengineering Technology (UB CAT). If you ask Rader, he’ll say, “this is just the beginning.”
“You can start any business you want, but you must have customers.” Great advice from CytoCybernetics co-founder Glenna Bett. Cytocybernetics is a startup company founded by UB researchers Bett, associate professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Randall L. Rasmusson, professor in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics. The company works on a drug safety screening device for the pharmaceutical industry and is set to move into Sherman Annex on UB’s South Campus. The company expects to create four jobs and invest $41,000 over five years as part of the START-UP NY program.
So how is Cytocybernetics gaining attention? According to professor Bett, through the amazing support gained by tapping into the vast resources of UB and our ecosystem partners. Bett has extended her network by attending the innovation lecture series presented by UB’s NYS Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics & Life Sciences, where in her own words you “learn things you don’t know that you don't know.” Bett participated in Pre-Seed Workshop, partnered with the Innovation Hot Spot, filed patents with UB’s Office of Science, Technology and Economic Outreach (STOR), applied for and received funding from SUNY TAFT and UB’s Center for Advanced Biomedical and Bioengineering Technology (UBCAT), which ultimately lead to an NIH Phase 1 Grant award.
The company, which incorporated in 2013, has developed a means for faster and more accurate drug testing, and is already gaining interest both nationally and globally. Cytocybernetics has plans to become a contract research organization (CRO) that hopes to take their first orders in 2016. Cytocybernetics is currently focused on improving the performance of commercially available heart cells transformed from a donor’s skin or blood cells. The Cybercyte assay offers pharmaceutical companies the ability to screen compounds prior to FDA approval, to see if they will cause arrhythmias in humans. The Cybercyte approach is estimated to narrow the drug pipeline by 25%, as well as being more accurate which saves pharmaceutical companies thousands of dollars.
UB Biotechnology Professor, Kate Rittenhouse-Olson, founded For-Robin Inc, a company that has developed a promising antibody that stops breast cancer tumors from metastasizing to other parts of the body to honor the memory of her sister Robin who died of breast cancer in 1986 at the age of 31.
Following her passing, Rittenhouse-Olson resolved to learn as much as she could about cancer, with the goal of fighting it one day. Twenty-six years later For-Robin was founded to bring the anti-metastatic monoclonal antibody, JAA-F11 to the clinic. Recent humanization of the antibody indicates that it can be used for direct tumor cell killing and as a carrier for drugs toxic to the tumor cells.
Rittenhouse-Olson tapped into the expertise of UB and the CBLS in gaining funding through the University at Buffalo's Center for Advanced Biomedical and Bioengineering Technology (UB CAT) program, which supports research and development projects that are pair local life sciences firms with UB scientists. She received additional startup funds from the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program of the National Cancer Institute and the Bruce Holm Memorial Catalyst Fund at UB, which supports commercialization of UB inventions.
She went on to join UB's Entrepreneur-In-Residence (EIR) program, which pairs university spinoffs with experienced entrepreneurs who can provide guidance on business matters. Rittenhouse-Olson was able to gain access to student interns as part of the CBLS Workforce Development Career Experience Program and she has continued to expand her network and industry partnerships through connections made through attendance at the BIO International Conference and the CBLS Commercialization Lecture Series.
Rheonix®, Inc. has created a powerful microfluidic platform for the evolving molecular diagnostics industry that miniaturizes and automates all the functions of a molecular biology lab on a disposable chip the size of the palm of your hand. The Rheonix CARD® (Chemistry And Reagant Device) system incorporates disposable microfluidic chip technology and a scalable automated platform to analyze single or multiple clinical raw samples, providing multiplexed endpoint and/or real time analysis for a wide array of diagnostic applications.
Successful pilot programs have applied the Rheonix CARD® system to a broad range of functional assays including immunoassay,pathogen identification, pharmacogenomic, companion diagnostics and other molecular diagnostic applications. Rheonix has established worldwide corporate, governmental and educational partnerships for new and existing assays. Commercial development projects include a multiplex assay for multiple sexually transmitted viruses, pharmacogenomic and companion diagnostic tests, human papillomavirus (HPV) detection, HIV antibody and viral RNA detection, drinking water and recreational water testing and other molecular diagnostic applications.
In collaboration with Co-Director of the CBLS's Genomics & Bioinformatics Core (GBC), Michael Buck, PhD, Rheonix will focus on automating Illumina's Nextera DNA Sample Preparation process to allow each of the individual steps to be seamlessly and automatically performed on the Rheonix CARD platform. Rheonix will investigate each of the individual steps int eh process including DNA isolation, tagmentation, clean up and limited-cylce PCR to amplify the resulting library for cluster generation on the Illumina platform. Rheonix will then provide that material to Dr. Buck's laboratory for further processing and testing. If successful, the Rheonix card will provide a means to reduce the time and cost of NGS library preparation methods.
In addition to the ongoing collaboration with the GBC, Rheonix gained funding assistance through the UB CAT program and Senior Vice President for Scientific and Clinical Affairs Dr. Richard Montagna, has not only attended but was a featured guest speaker at the CBLS Commercialization Lecture Series.
Buffalo-based medical device company, Medical Acoustics distributes LungFlute, a non-invasive, drug-free, reusable hand held device that employs patented low-frequency acoustic wave technology for optimal secretion clearance of patients suffering from respiratory illness including COPD, chronic bronchitis and bronchiectasis.
The company has partnered with UB for years on research and development and was instrumental in helping Medical Acoustics commercialize the Lung Flute.
The UB Office of Science, Technology Transfer and Economic Outreach (STOR) helped Medical Acoustics draft the company's first business plan including market research the office's professional staff conducted with the help of a UB graduate. In addition, Sanjay Sethi, UB professor of medicine, identified a secondary market for the Lung Flute to serve as a diagnostics tool, enabling doctors to secur sputum samples for testing.
Sputum samples induced by the Lung Flute for hospitals and clinics can be used to diagnose multiple pulmonary disease states such as pneumonia, chronic bronchitis, asthma, emphysema, cystic fibrosis, lung cancer and tuberculosis. Clinical studies have shown that sputum induction with the Lung Flute ia also safe for patients with COPD.
Medical Acoustics was also able to tap into funding assistance through the UB Center for Advanced Biomedical and Bioengineering Technology (UB CAT), provided funding to ready the Lung Flute for its commercial launch in the hospital and home care markets.