New App Helps Patients Take Medications Correctly

InteliSpark client, Insightfil, was awarded a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for phase I of their project, “Personalized Multimedication Packaging with Integrated Real-Time Instrumentation to Improve Adherence.” Insightfil researchers will develop a comprehensive medication management plan to promote medication adherence, and in so doing, improve patient health.

Research shows that about 50% of patients in the U.S. do not take their prescription medications as prescribed. Many patients have complicated medication regimens involving more than three types of drugs, which puts these individuals at a higher risk of not taking medications correctly. Non-adherence to prescription drug regimens leads to more visits to the hospital, increased healthcare costs, and poorer health outcomes.

This project, led by Dr. Edward Acworth, CEO and founder of the startup Insightfil, will address medication non-adherence by developing a solution that positively impacts all stakeholders including patients, doctors, pharmacies, and insurers. This medication management solution includes convenience packaging combined with a smartphone app that both verifies if a patient opens a medication pack and delivers essential and medicine-related information in real-time. In other words, not only will a patient realize he or she missed a dose, so will the patient’s doctor.

Researchers believe this will contribute to a more accurate information exchange between all stakeholders, leading to decreased healthcare costs and improved health outcomes for patients. Once Insightfil develops a successful prototype in phase I, they plan to advance to phase II and conduct a pilot study in 1-2 pharmacies serving 5,000 patients.

Potential Life-Saving Diagnostic for Unruptured Brain Aneurysms

InteliSpark client, Neurovascular Diagnostics, Inc., secures $750,000 for a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for phase II of their project, “A Blood-Based Test to Identify Patients with Intracranial Aneurysm.” Researchers will validate and test a new blood-based diagnostic to detect unruptured brain aneurysms in patients.

About six million people in the United States have an unruptured brain aneurysm. Approximately 30,000 people suffer from a ruptured brain aneurysm annually, 50% of which are fatal. Many show no symptoms until it is too late. The lack of adequate diagnoses of unruptured aneurysms puts these individuals in a potentially dangerous situation. Additionally, the treatment costs are significantly more for ruptured than unruptured aneurysms.

Neurovascular Diagnostics, Inc. will build upon the success of phase I of their project and validate and test a new diagnostic. In phase I, researchers discovered that a panel of about 50 circulating RNAs (ribonucleic acid) isolated from blood samples predicted unruptured brain aneurysms with over 90% accuracy. In phase II, researchers will utilize blood samples from 400 individuals with and without brain aneurysms across 3 clinical centers to test the accuracy of their new diagnostic. 

Drs. Vincent Tutino and Hui Meng, CEO and CMO respectively, at Neurovascular Diagnostics, Inc., are utilizing technology they developed at the State University of New York at Buffalo. Both of their academic training and research in neurovascular diseases and intracranial aneurysms led them to develop this desperately needed diagnostic screening tool and to form the startup Neurovascular Diagnostics, Inc.

This new diagnostic has the potential to provide millions of Americans access to affordable screening, which may save many lives and prevent the permanent neurological deficits that survivors from ruptured brain aneurysms experience daily.

Fighting Cancer by Delving into the Promising Field of Immunotherapy

InteliSpark client, Glycobia, Inc., secures $300,000 for a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for phase I of their project, “Novel Strategy to Generate Glycan-Specific Antibodies for Cancer Immunotherapy.” Dr. Brian Green, Senior Director of Research and Development at Glycobia, Inc., will lead this project to investigate an innovative method to advance the field of immunotherapy.

The growing field of cancer treatment through immunotherapy targets malignant cells, but unlike traditional therapies, it avoids dangerous and unpleasant side effects of treatment. Immunotherapy is a promising method of treatment as it helps the body’s natural immune system fight against cancer.

Tumor-associated carbohydrate antigens are appealing targets for immunotherapy, but the problem is that carbohydrates are poor immunogens. As a result, cancer research has developed few diagnostics and treatments in targeting these antigens.  

In response to this significant technical challenge, Glycobia Inc. will use a novel immunization strategy that elevates and focuses the immune response to these poor immunogens. Researchers hope this will lead to the development of vaccines and antibody-based therapies targeting carbohydrate antigens that are found in human cancers, such as, but not limited to, lung cancer, breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, and melanoma.

Though not as widely used as traditional treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation, immunotherapy shows great promise. Glycobia, Inc. is contributing directly to this field through its technology and continued research through federally-funded projects. The company is a biotech startup founded by Cornell faculty member, Dr. Matthew P. DeLisa and PhD alumnus, Dr. Adam Fisher.

Using Data to Combat Prescription Drug Misuse and Abuse

InteliSpark client, Principled Strategies, Inc., wins a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for phase I of their project, “Patient-level Risk Identifier Models for a Multifactor Opioid Abuse Risk Assessment Strategy.” Dr. Paul DuBose, Vice President of Analytics at Principled Strategies, Inc., is leading a research effort to deliver actionable solutions to pervasive prescription drug misuse and abuse that exists at prescriber, pharmacy, and patient levels.

Prescription drug misuse, abuse, and addiction is an alarming public health concern in the United States. The 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health revealed that 9.9 million people misused prescription pain relievers, and that 37.6% of misusers received prescriptions or stole from health care providers.

Recognizing the urgency in finding preventative measures to this widespread health issue, Principled Strategies, Inc. created SafeUseNow. This novel solution identifies behaviors of prescribers that may contribute to drug abuse, misuse, and addiction. It also engages prescribers in educational programs to improve prescription drug prescribing and monitors patterns or changes in behaviors that may inform and improve intervention services.

As SafeUseNow focused on prescribers primarily, researchers identified the need to address the issue at the patient level and will develop patient-level risk identifiers in this newly awarded project to incorporate in SafeUseNow. This holistic approach enables insurance companies, networks, and state and local governments to identify behaviors that may contribute to the issue across prescribers, pharmacies, and patients. This, in turn, will enhance or prompt new approaches to prevention and intervention. 

Children Grasp STEM Concepts through a Game

InteliSpark client, Parametric Studio, Inc., was awarded a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract from the U.S. Department of Education for phase I of their project, “An Augmented Reality Sandbox for use in Early Elementary STEM Instruction.” As one of 13 award recipients across the nation, Parametric Studio, Inc., will develop an augmented reality application-based engineering puzzle game for students in kindergarten to grade 2 that combines design, simulation, programming, STEM learning, and collaboration utilities.  

Research shows that technology can be a learning tool for both inside and outside of the classroom, and that early exposure to computer science and engineering increases the likelihood for students’ future success in math and science. According to research conducted by Google and Gallup, only 40% of K-12 schools in the U.S. offer at least one computer science course, and yet, over 90% of parents believe in the importance of computer science in early education. Meanwhile, schools that do offer courses continue to experience challenges in meeting state and national standards for math and science.

To meet the growing need for early and effective education in STEM, the researchers at Parametric Studio, Inc. will develop an engineering puzzle-based augmented reality (AR) sandbox for K-2 age children. Students will design Rube Goldberg contraptions that will foster skills in problem solving and algorithmic thinking. This fun and engaging approach has potential to improve students’ perceptions toward STEM as well as their performance, thereby helping teachers and institutions meet state and national standards. Additionally, young children will develop critical skills required to thrive in the 21st century.

Parametric Studio, Inc. is an Ed-Tech company that believes in the importance of STEM education in raising up the next generation of scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, and leaders. This project, led by Dr. Christopher Whitmer, Chief Technology Officer at Parametric Studio, Inc., exemplifies the potential for technological innovation in the private sector in addressing social challenges.  

Cooling Technology Reduces Carbon Dioxide Emissions

InteliSpark client, Heat Inverse, LLC, secures a phase I Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the National Science Foundation for their project, “Passive Cooling Materials for Transparent Applications in Refrigerated Trucking and Solar.” The research team, led by Dr. Romy M. Fain, Founder and CEO at Heat Inverse, LLC, will develop a transparent passive cooling thin-film product for applications that lose efficiency when heated such as over advertisements on refrigerated trucks or on the front face of solar panels.

To meet the growing need within the refrigerated trucking industry to reduce fuel costs and CO2 emissions, researchers will optimize the revolutionary method of entirely passive heat management through the development of a thin-film photonics application to the outside of refrigerated truck trailers. This has the potential to provide a 25-80% increase in fuel efficiency which would benefit customers through cost savings in fuel, maintenance and replacement, temperature maintenance in maximum heat, and reduced emissions to meet regulatory requirements and contribute to the overall well-being of the broader society.

Located in New York State, Heat Inverse, LLC is a clean tech startup that is utilizing a cooling technology for the development of thin-film materials that offers manufacturers an affordable way to increase efficiency.

Nth Cycle Wins NSF SBIR Grant

InteliSpark client, Nth Cycle, LLC has been awarded a phase I Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for their project titled, “Electrochemical Separation Device for Co-Ni Recovery from Li-ion Batteries”. This project will address a new source of strategic materials for the clean energy and electronics markets. Nth Cycle plans to provide a recycling technology for the li-ion battery market, helping to solve the supply crisis for cobalt in the electronics and clean energy sector.

The U.S. is a major consumer of cobalt, which is a critical component in rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. It is estimated that over the next five years, the rapid increase in electric vehicles on the road will cause a drastic shift in the market, becoming the largest and fastest growing end-use of this critical material. This increase in demand, combined with the unstable global supply and difficulties with scaling mining productions, puts cobalt supply at high risk. Discarded lithium ion batteries could be a viable secondary source of cobalt if viable recycling technologies were available. Achieving efficient, low-cost recycling of Li-ion batteries will facilitate a secure source of cobalt for U.S.-based manufacturers with large societal impact, offering a high net-benefit concerning air emissions and climate protection, and incentives for collecting high priority waste.

Currently, there are no viable alternatives for cobalt separation and capture, except for large, expensive, and energy consumptive hydrometallurgical and pyrometallurgical processes. While these techniques work well, they require high capital and material transportation costs. Nth Cycle’s technique provides a new and efficient method for separating and reclaiming cobalt oxide for direct reuse in advanced manufacturing, designed with a small footprint so that it can be added onto existing recycling and manufacturing processes to capture these metals, without large upfront capital cost. The anticipated results will include a 5-10x reduction in cost and 1-4x reduction in CO2 emissions compared to incumbent recycling technologies, ultimately redefining our current wastes as resources, providing a secure source of cobalt to the U.S. market.

Renerva Awarded NSF SBIR Phase I Grant

InteliSpark client, Renerva, LLC, has been awarded a phase I SBIR grant from the NSF for their project titled, “Development of a Peripheral Nerve Matrix Conduit to Enable Nerve Regeneration”, that will begin on July 1st. This project will focus on the advancement of biomaterials development for nerve repair.

U.S. surgeons perform around 550,000 procedures to repair peripheral nerves affected by traumatic or iatrogenic nerve injury each year. The economic burden associated to loss in employee productivity is estimated to exceed $150B each year as well. Peripheral Nerve Injury (PNI) impacts the injured patient’s quality of life, productivity, and interpersonal relationships. Existing materials are primarily indicated for use as passive support or to prevent complications (e.g., mechanical instability, neuroma, or donor site morbidity associated with autograft). None of these products has shown clinical improvement in functional outcomes.

Therefore, an advancement of technology or method that can accelerate or improve nerve repair is vital, as it can improve quality of life for those with nerve injuries and reduce the economic burden associated with long term disability for those with nerve injuries. Renerva proposes to address this issue by undertaking the initial development and testing of a porcine tissue-based nerve conduit. The objective of this project is to fabricate conduits that have suitable mechanical, structural, and biological properties to provide an ideal environment for nerve repair and regeneration in nerve gap injuries. Their project will include the development and in vitro characterization of the conduit, as well as in vivo testing in a small animal model of nerve gap repair. Pilot studies have suggested that the proposed conduits have the potential to promote key early events in the nerve regeneration process leading to the formation of functional nerve tissue. The expected outcome is that the proposed conduits will be superior to existing nerve guides and allografts, enabling improvements in nerve repair and providing improvements in the clinical care of affected patients.

Simulated Inanimate Models Wins NSF Phase I SBIR Grant

With assistance from InteliSpark, Simulated Inanimate Models, LLC has been awarded a grant from the NSF, for their project, “Integration of Anatomical Hydrogel Phantoms with Augmented Reality and Deep Learning to Enable Automated Independent Surgical Training”. This project will focus on the development of novel technology to more efficiently train surgeons and reduce the risk of patients in the operating room.

Current surgical education can be seen as inadequate, and furthermore, resulting in inexperienced surgeons inevitably end up operating on live patients during their training. Simulated Inanimate Models’ solution is to be performed outside of the operating room and allow them to train in a simulated, educational environment on non-patient specific models. This work seeks to reduce surgical error and increase the health and safety of all patients undergoing surgery. The project will integrate technology with surgical simulation, combining educational hardware/software packages with physical anatomical models to create an immersive, highly effective training experience. Additionally, the project will improve both the well-being of the public as well as the educational and training of the healthcare industry. 

Simulated Inanimate Models’ project will develop a prototype hardware and software training system that delivers educational content in real time, guiding a training surgeon through a simulated surgical procedure. The developed prototype will visually recognize state changes and objects in three-dimensional space, using these cues to trigger prompts and deliver instructions, guidance, and medical curricula in a timely manner as the surgeon interacts with a non-patient specific physical models; this product will require the integration of physical models with software and augmented reality technology on a level unparalleled on the market today. This prototype will undergo technical validation and an initial round of educational validation, in preparation for the broader clinical and educational validation planned in Phase 2.

Respira Labs Wins NSF Phase I Grant

InteliSpark client, Respira Labs, LLC, has been awarded a SBIR Phase I grant from the NSF. Their project titled, “A novel, active acoustic wearable for real-time deterioration assessment in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)”, has a focus on developing a new gold-standard for COPD deterioration detection. With the assistance from the NSF, Respira Labs can now work on the development of a next-generation product that will revolutionize COPD management by empowering patients, providers and caregivers to monitor the disease, prevent respiratory attacks, and receive timely care at home.

The current COPD death rate is one American every four minutes. Additionally, it costs nearly $72B a year with almost half of those costs attributed to ER visits and hospitalization. Respira Labs plans to address this issue with the use of early detection of lung deterioration in their innovation; which will facilitate preventive interventions at home and thereby reduce the $36B/year spent on ER and hospital visits. Their solution has a validated business model that drives value for patients, physicians, provider networks and payers.

Respira Labs’ innovative product is based on audio sensors paired with AI algorithms on a Smartphone platform to track lung resonance and flag any changes in lung volume. Current methods for tracking lung function at home are sub-optimal, as they are often difficult to use. Pulse-oximeters are highly inaccurate and only provide data at discrete points, causing late diagnosis. This lack of timely information manifests in excess hospitalizations because detection often occurs too late to prevent an attack. Respira Labs’ product creates a fundamental shift in the technology employed at home by identifying air trapping, a more sensitive biomarker for lung deterioration. The goal of this Phase I project is to create a Minimum Viable Product that can be used for human testing. By the end of this award, Respira Labs plans to have tested and validated the concept in a small cohort of patients and controls. Successful development of this product is forecast to create 42 new jobs (2024) with an annual payroll exceeding $6.5M. As a direct result of this award, this innovative product can reach the U.S. market in 2023, with $100M in projected revenue by 2027.