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. 

Alterna Therapeutics Awarded NIH Grant

InteliSpark client, Alterna Therapeutics, Inc. has been awarded a Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). This phase I project titled, “Novel and Potent SHIP1 Inhibitors for Improving Hematologic Recovery Following Myelosuppressive Therapies” will focus on improving the treatment of cancer. Chemotherapy is a mainstay in the treatment of cancer, some types of chemotherapy deplete bone marrow cells, affecting blood cell production. The severely debilitating side effects frequently result in hospitalization and treatment delays, and may compel dose reductions that compromise drug efficacy, with potentially fatal consequences. This project will develop a novel technology to significantly improve blood cell recovery following chemotherapy, thus reducing healthcare costs for cancer patients and saving lives.

Despite recent advances in targeting cancer cells, chemotherapy remains a mainstay of oncology, extending survival and providing cures for many types of cancer. However, chemotherapy that ablates or suppresses bone marrow cells can be debilitating even when combined with autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT). The treatment causes severe side effects such as anemia, neutropenia and thrombocytopenia, the consequences of which include hospitalization, treatment delays, and dose reductions that compromise treatment efficacy and can even result in death. Although expensive, recombinant growth factors can assist with recovery from anemia and neutropenia; however, thrombocytopenia remains an unmet medical need. Alterna has developed a novel technology called SHIPi that consists of the in vivo delivery of compounds that inhibit phosphatidylinositol- 3,4,5-trisphosphate 5-phosphatase 1 (SHIP1), a protein expressed in hematopoietic cells. Investigations of SHIPi have demonstrated that the technology can increase neutrophil numbers and also abrogate the growth of certain hematologic cancers. More recently, SHIPi was found to promote expansions of hematopoietic stem cells and mesenchymal stem cell compartments. It can also super-induce the production of endogenous granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (G-CSF) that acts on the hematopoietic stem/progenitor cell (HS/PC) compartment. Moreover, SHIPi accelerates hematologic recovery after myelosuppressive radiation treatment, including the recovery neutrophils and platelets. These inherent properties of SHIPi provide a mechanistic advantage over recombinant growth factors like G-CSF and erythropoietin in promoting blood cell recovery.

With their grant from the NHLBI, Alterna Therapeutics will be able to focus efforts to test and develop SHIPi approaches that will lead to improved hematologic recovery following chemotherapy (myelo- suppressive or -ablative) combined with HSCT. After synthesizing sufficient amounts of two highly-active SHIP1 inhibitors, the compounds (K103, K161) will be characterized in vivo dose-escalation and pharmacokinetic studies in rats to ensure that there will be appropriate exposure to the compounds in subsequent animal studies. Next, the compounds will be tested, in vitro, for off-target effects. And the final line of investigation will use a murine model of chemotherapy-induced myelosupression to determine if the administration of SHIP1 inhibitors after chemotherapy enhances blood cell recovery. They expect that mice receiving chemotherapy and are treated using SHIPi will show more rapid recovery of blood cell components compared to untreated (negative) and G-CSF-treated (positive) controls.

CLEU DIAGNOSTICS, LLC awarded Phase I SBIR Grant from NIH

InteliSpark Client, CLEU Diagnostics LLC, has been awarded a phase I small business innovative research (SBIR) grant from the NIH department, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Their project, “Rapid Electrochemical Biosensor for Point-of-Care Diagnosis of Joint Infection”, will focus on an innovative technology approach for improving diagnosis of infection after total joint replacement (TJR). 

 

Total joint replacement has posed consequences for patients such as infection, along with a high 5-year mortality rate and (>25%), and an immense societal burden. The single most common reason for patients to present to the emergency department after TJR, is due to concern for infection. A delayed diagnosis can prolong morbidity, reduce the chances for successful infection eradication, and sometimes even lead to sepsis. Diagnostic errors and unnecessary overtreatment pose the possibility of even more damage, given the multiple aggressive surgical interventions and long-term, potentially toxic antibiotic treatment required to manage an infected joint replacement, much akin to cancer therapy. Additionally, making a diagnosis of infection remains a challenge for physicians. Clinical suspicion alone is ineffective for identifying the presence of infection, as outward clinical signs, such as erythema or swelling, are non-specific and cannot be differentiated from other forms of inflammation. Currently, there is no practical point-of-care (POC) test available that can allow physicians to quickly and reliably diagnose a joint infection in order to facilitate prompt clinical decisions in real-time. 

 

CLEU Diagnostics' goal is to develop the first POC test for infection diagnosis based on a novel electrochemical assay that measures the activity of leukocyte esterases (LE) in joint fluid. LE are antimicrobial proteases released by activated neutrophils recruited to sites of infection. The cellular expression of such antimicrobial peptides rises dramatically in response to acute infection; thus, these enzymes serve as ideal biomarkers for joint infection, with nearly optimal diagnostic accuracy. Their approach is driven by their proprietary biosensor technology, which allows for rapid, quantitative detection of LE using low-cost, disposable screen-printed electrodes, similar to glucose meter test strips. CLEU Diagnostics’ novel biosensor will allow physicians in the office or ED to evaluate fluid aspirated from a persistently painful joint replacement with a high diagnostic accuracy in just minutes. Not only will this facilitate prompt intervention for those with an infection, but more commonly it will allow physicians to definitively rule out infection and prevent undue psychological distress, and even hospital observation, for those without a joint infection. 

Shasqi Inc. Awarded NIH Grant

InteliSpark client, Shasqi Inc., has been awarded a grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences division of the NIH for their project, “Material-Guided Delivery and Local Activation of Biorthogonal Prodrugs”. This project focuses on improving systemic administration of small molecule therapeutics to treat diseases, combatting adverse drug events (ADEs).

Systemic administration of drugs to treat disease can be medically ineffective, and even hazardous, because the drugs fail to concentrate, specifically, at the location in the body where intervention is needed. Approximately 1 in 20 hospitalized patients in the U.S. experience ADEs, and over a million are reported every year. This can cause for longer hospital stays, double risk of mortality, and over $100 in economic toll annually. In addition, ADEs have a crippling indirect effect on therapeutic arsenal. Roughly 25% of drug development programs fail before completion of Phase II studies due to problems with clinical safety. Research groups have responded by developing drug delivery systems to optimize the localized and timely delivery of therapeutics, however, the approaches used have major limitations.

Shasqi is developing a modular platform technology for drug-delivery that enables precise spatiotemporal localization of therapeutics and that allows for the modulation of drug release. Relying on proprietary “catch and release” interactions between an implantable gel and initially “silent” prodrugs, the extensible technology is applicable to diverse medical areas and has the potential to accelerate drug discovery.

InteliSpark is hiring Associate Proposal Development Consultants (Ithaca, NY)

Position Overview: InteliSpark is looking for Associate Proposal Development Consultants. This is a great alternative for scientists interested in non‐laboratory careers in science. Associate Proposal Development Consultants work with Senior Team Members conceptualize and develop high-quality scientific research proposals for NIH, NSF, DOD, NASA, DoE, and other Federal funding agencies to support our clients.

Associate Proposal Development Consultants are responsible for the highest quality written scientific research proposals. The work includes conducting literature reviews, developing research strategy recommendations for clients, writing/developing/editing research proposals. Ideal candidates will have scientifically eclectic interests and the ability to quickly pick‐up concepts outside of their immediate field of science. Successful candidates will have the opportunity to grow into the Proposal Development Consultant role that serves as a project lead on proposal projects.

 Qualifications: Applicants must meet the following specifications:

– M.S. or Ph.D. in a STEM field

– Experience with scientific writing

– Outstanding writing skills (with respect to quality and productivity)

– Outstanding time management skills

– Ability to rapidly comprehend new scientific concepts and fields

– Ability to work independently in a dynamic, growing entrepreneurial environment

– Interested in start‐up ecosystems and advancing innovative technologies to commercialization

– Ability to work well independently and in teams

– Excellent organizational and communication skills

Interested Candidates should send a resume and cover letter to Kirk Macolini -at kirk@intelispark.com

About InteliSpark

InteliSpark (www.InteliSpark.com) is an Ithaca, NY based, hands‐on business development consulting firm specializing in securing non‐dilutive federal R&D funding for start‐ups. We specialize in securing non-dilutive funding for start‐ups through the Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR), Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR), and other government research funding programs. We work with start‐ups, universities, venture capital firms and economic development programs to match small innovative companies and technologies with funding opportunities. Using our proven track record of creating winning SBIR/STTR proposals, we turn those opportunities into realities.

Ecolectro, Inc. Awarded DOE Grant

InteliSpark client, Ecolectro Inc. has been awarded a grant from the Department of Energy (DOE) for their Phase I project, “Ultrastable Phosphonium-Based Alkaline Exchange Membranes for Solar Fuels Generators”.

Current membranes that have been developed are for electrolyzes and fuel cells, but are not optimized for solar fuel generators whereas the requirements are different. Currently, companies working on solar fuel generators are using commercially available proton exchange membranes or alkaline exchange membranes that were developed for fuel cell and electrolyzer operation. Ecolectro plans to use their proprietary chemical building blocks to tailor alkaline exchange membranes for solar fuels generators. The membranes tailored will have the necessary cross-over, conductivity and durability to achieve high-performance in solar fuels generators. The chemistry and membranes developed herein have significant commercial applications in the hydrogen space in both fuel cell and electrolyzer applications. The use of these chemistries will enable the manufacturers of solar fuels generators, fuel cells and electrolyzers to decrease their cost and bring these materials to market.

PK Biosciences Awarded NIH Phase I Grant

InteliSpark client, PK Biosciences Corporation, has been awarded a grant from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) for their project, “Preclinical Evaluation of the Anti-Neuroinflammatory Properties and Pharmacokinetic Profile of a Novel Fyn Kinase Inhibitors”. This Phase I SBIR project will focus on developing a new class of disease-modifying drugs aimed at Parkinson’s disease (PD) treatment.

Current approaches to PD treatment mainly focus on alleviating symptoms, by compensating for neurochemical deficits. However, these treatments often fail to halt the progression of the neurodegenerative process. The lack of neuroprotective drugs for PD is attributed to a limited understanding of the complex mechanisms involved in the degenerative processes of the nigral dopaminergic system. Yet, recent discoveries regarding cell death pathways and oxidative stress signaling have offered some important clues that boost hope about the development of novel mechanism-based neuroprotective strategies for PD.

PK Biosciences has found that oxidative stress triggers the mitochondrially mediated caspase cascade and Fyn kinase activation to induce neuronal cell death, cell culture, and animal models of neurodegeneration. Furthermore, Fyn knockout mice were found resistant to MPTP-induced behavioral deficits, neurochemical depletion, and nigral dopaminergic neuronal damage. Additionally, PK Biosciences observed Fyn kinase is rapidly activated and mediates LPS= and SynPFF-induced increases in nitrite and proinflammatory cytokine production in cell culture and animal models of neuroinflammation. Together, these mechanistic studies demonstrate that Fyn is an essential upstream proapoptotic kinase involved in neuroinflammation, and as such, it could prove to be a promising therapeutic target for PD. With the grant assistance from the NINDS, PK Biosciences will continue work on their proof-of-concept study, to validate tri-heterocyclic small-molecule inhibitors of Fyn kinase as novel anti-neuroinflammatory agents for treating neurodegenerative disorders.