Research News

UB CAT invests $253,000 in six life sciences companies

researcher at Empire Genomics.


Published September 13, 2022

Rick Gardner, UB associate vice president for economic development.
“The UB CAT is an incredible resource for life sciences companies that are developing new technologies. ”
Rick Gardner, associate vice president for economic development

The UB Center for Advanced Technology in Big Data and Health Sciences (UB CAT) has awarded six life sciences companies a total of $253,000 to support new biomedical technologies.

The companies are working on developing cancer vaccines, tests to assess one’s risk to COVID-19 infection and complications, and improved breast cancer treatments, among other endeavors.

“The UB CAT is an incredible resource for life sciences companies that are developing new technologies,” says Rick Gardner, associate vice president for economic development. “It enables companies to partner with faculty experts and utilize sophisticated labs and other technology located at UB.”

UB CAT is sponsored by the New York State Division of Science, Technology and Innovation (NYSTAR). It is dedicated to leveraging university resources to drive the growth of life sciences companies across New York State.

The companies receiving UB CAT support for the 2022-23 fiscal year:

Concarlo Therapeutics

Concarlo Therapeutics, a Brooklyn-based company that is developing pharmaceuticals to improve long-term survival of breast cancer patients, will receive $82,000 from UB CAT. The company is developing IpY.20, a protein-lipid nanoparticle that has shown to inhibit cancer cell proliferation and tumor growth in preclinical models. Yun Wu, associate professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering — a joint program of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences — has partnered with Concarlo to aid in its research.

“The UB CAT funding provides strong support for my lab to collaborate with New York City-based Concarlo Therapeutics, perform preclinical studies, move the company’s proprietary drug to clinical trial, and eventually benefit patients with drug-resistant breast cancer,” Wu says.

Empire Genomics

Empire Genomics is a Williamsville-based company founded in 2006 by Norma J. Nowak, professor of biochemistry and executive director of the New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics & Life Sciences (CBLS). The company will receive $30,000 from UB CAT to create a new cancer diagnostic test. The test, known as “Immuno-flowFISH,” combines two technologies: flow cytometry, a technique used to detect and measure physical and chemical characteristics of a population of cells or particles, and FISH, which stands for fluorescence in situ hybridization. Donald Yergeau, associate director of genomic technologies at CBLS, will serve as faculty lead.

KSL Diagnostics

Williamsville-based KSL Diagnostics Inc. will receive $33,000 in UB CAT funding to validate the COVID-19 Immune Index™ test for new strains of COVID -19. The COVID-19 Immune Index™ test helps monitor the effectiveness of COVID-19 virus protection through a simple blood test. Patients can better understand their immune status to help determine appropriate timing for booster vaccine doses and make informed decisions related to potential COVID-19 exposure. The test is being continually validated for new strains of COVID-19 in collaboration with Amy Jacobs, research associate professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology in the Jacobs School and director of UB’s Biosafety Level 3 (BSL3) lab.

Neurovascular Diagnostics

Neurovascular Diagnostics, a UB spinoff company that is developing a low-cost blood test to screen high-risk patients for intracranial brain aneurysms, will receive $47,000 from UB CAT. Three of the company’s four co-founders are UB researchers. John Kolega, associate professor of pathology and anatomical sciences in the Jacobs School, is the faculty lead on the project.

Parker Isaac Instruments

Ithaca-based Parker Isaac Instruments will receive $11,000 to support the creation of a lymph node database that leverages AdiPress, the company’s automated pathology tool that standardizes lymph node detection for cancer staging. Specifically, the project will explore how computational methods for identifying and analyzing lymph nodes for metastatic disease can be validated and optimized by standardizing preanalytic variables. John Tomaszewski, SUNY Distinguished Professor and chair of the Department of Pathology and Anatomical Sciences, is the project’s faculty lead.

POP Biotechnologies Inc.

POP Biotechnologies Inc. was founded by Jonathan Lovell, SUNY Empire Innovation Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering, and UB School of Law alumnus Jonathan Smyth. The company will receive $50,000 from UB CAT to support development of a liposome-based vaccine-delivery platform. Specifically, the researchers are examining the platform’s effectiveness for cancer vaccines.

“The support of the CAT program, along with our continued partnership with the University at Buffalo, has been catalytic in maximizing the impact of company funds used in identifying and validating commercial targets,” Smyth says. “Our current project, involving the use of our cancer vaccine platform in combination with immunogenic neoepitopes, will generate valuable data toward securing future investment and nondilutive funding.”