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Proposed Technologies

1) Technology: Nanobodies & Polyclonal Antibodies

  • Field: Research Tools
  • Summary: Turkey Creek Biotechnology (TCB) is a licensed limited liability company in Tennessee founded by Vanderbilt School of Medicine faculty for the purpose of developing conventional polyclonal antibodies and single domain antibody fragments (nanobodies) from alpacas. Beginning in 2016, TCB has initiated 101 projects. Approximately 40 of these projects have progressed to nanobodies and 20 additional nanobody projects are on hold due to lack of funding or lack of interest on the part of the investigators. Approximately 30 projects have yielded affinity-purified polyclonal antibodies. At this point, TCB manages and performs the animal-related aspects of the projects with subsequent steps either performed in the Vanderbilt Antibody and Protein Resource Core (VAPR) or in the lab of the initiating investigator. Because TCB started as a mechanism for the principals to inject nanobody research into their own research programs, we have not been primarily profit-motivated to date. Nanobodies, single domain antibodies derived from camelid species, are particularly promising reagents for early-stage drug discovery. There are three principal advantages of nanobodies: i) large libraries of nanobodies can easily be screened which increases the likelihood that a specific antigenic region will be targeted; ii) nanobodies are smaller than traditional antibodies and can access more protein surfaces; iii) nanobodies can be expressed and manipulated easily. These characteristics have made nanobodies extremely useful tools for research purposes, but they have also been developed for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes. The challenges associated with animal care, relative to mice, have likely limited their application. However, TCB has met these challenges. We have a fully functional USDA licensed animal research program (currently 19 animals), with protocols and standard operating procedures in place.
  • Inventors: Ben Spiller, Scott Bury, Brian Wadzinski
  • Potential applications: Early-Stage Drug Discovery


2) Technology: Cad Biomaterial

  • Field: Regenerative Medicine
  • Summary: Healthy tissues require sufficient blood flow for oxygen and nutrient delivery. In aging and disease, arteries become blocked, leading to ischemia in downstream tissue beds. Likewise, a significant number of transplanted organs are rejected due to ischemia-causing blood clots Over two million hernia surgeries are conducted in the US every year, and 30% of those fail due to lack of vascularization of the surgical mesh. This requires patients to be readmitted to surgery to replace the mesh. Similarly, of the 8,000 liver transplants in the US every year, 5-10% fail because of hepatic artery clogs due to poor vascularization. This failure can sometimes be life-threatening, and it is also a waste of precious transplant tissue. Many biomaterials have been developed to promote blood vessel growth, which could theoretically be delivered to these problematic areas to combat ischemia. However, all previous biomaterials have been designed to grow capillaries, the smallest and most fragile vessels in the body. Capillary growth is very slow, which limits tissue penetration of newly formed vessels. In addition, since capillaries lack smooth muscle, they cannot handle high pressure outflows from arteries. Thus, current biomaterials are insufficient for therapeutic interventions that require collateralization of host blood flow around occluded vessels. This material has been shown to grow thicker vascular beds in vitro compared to the current standard and is relatively cheap to make. This technology relates to a new class of biomaterials that promote growth of arterioles, which are larger vessels that contain a lining of smooth muscle and can handle high pressure flow. Extensive unpublished work has shown this biomaterial variant is a potent inducer of arteriole growth in vitro and in vivo.
  • Inventors: Ethan Lippmann
  • Potential applications: Surgical support