Through Technologies

New Inventions

Combination Therapy Kills Cancer Cells

UW–Madison researchers have developed a new cancer treatment that combines a TRAIL receptor agonist with the diabetes drug metformin. Metformin sensitizes even resistant cancer cells to the TRAIL receptor agonists (e.g., lexatumumab) that induce cell death.

Metformin is attractive because its safety has been established over decades in diabetic patients worldwide. As such, there seem to be few barriers to its clinical implementation as a cancer therapeutic in combination with TRAIL receptor agonists. Metformin is commercially available as Glucophage® or in generic form.
(Apr 21, 2015) P140221US02

New System for Producing Fungal Secondary Metabolites

UW–Madison researchers have developed a new system for producing fungal secondary metabolites using test plasmids and a genetically modified strain of Aspergillus nidulans (TPMW2.3). The strain begins producing secondary metabolites when a gene promoter in the plasmid is triggered by culture conditions. This allows researchers to induce or repress production.
(Feb 16, 2015) P150029US01

Peptide Mimics Last Longer, Target Protein-Protein Interactions

UW–Madison researchers have developed modified Z-domain peptides that last longer in vivo while retaining strong binding properties. The researchers removed one of the helices and stabilized the remaining two with a disulfide bond. They substituted some residues with alpha and beta amino acid residues; the latter helps resist degradation by proteolytic enzymes.

The α/β-peptide mimics (or foldamers) can be tailored to target a variety of different proteins and protein-protein interactions. Given their small size (39 amino acids) relative to full-length Z-domains (59 amino acids), the new peptide mimics are easier to synthesize and modify.
(Jan 22, 2015) P140148US02

Solar Cells Turn HMF to Valuable Platform Molecules

UW–Madison researchers have developed a new method using solar cells to electrochemically oxidize HMF to highly prized furan compounds, specifically FDCA (2,5-furandicarboxylic acid) and DFF (2,5-diformylfuran). These important compounds are used to produce polymer materials, pharmaceuticals, antifungal agents, organic conductors and much more.

The reaction takes place at ambient temperature and pressure using a TEMPO mediator. Unlike previous methods, the process does not require a precious metal catalyst.
(Jan 8, 2015) P150132US01

Hydrogel Arrays for Screening Cell-Substrate Interactions, Now in Multiwell Format

Building on their previous work, the researchers have now adapted their method to any commercially available, glass or polystyrene-bottom multiwell plate. In the new process, hydrogel is covalently immobilized to the bottom of each well and then selectively polymerized. In this way the spots are completely isolatable, allowing for systemic and independent control of their chemical composition and XYZ physical dimensions.

Once the hydrogel array is formed, each of the spots can be exposed to different soluble factors without risk of diffusion.
(Dec 18, 2014) P140305US01

New Amphiphiles for Manipulating Membrane Proteins

UW–Madison researchers have developed improved amphiphiles for solubilizing, isolating and characterizing membrane proteins. They can be prepared from cholic acid, deoxycholic acid and lithocholic acid, which are steroids found in bile.

The new amphiphiles, called CAO, DCAO and LCAO, are effective in challenging biochemical systems, such as extraction of delicate photosynthetic superassemblies from native lipid bilayers.
(Dec 1, 2014) P09028US02

Superabsorbent, Sustainable Aerogels

UW–Madison researchers have developed organic aerogels with excellent absorbent properties. They are made by combining a water soluble polymer and cellulose nanocrystals/nanofibers (CNFs) derived from biomass. The polymer, such as PVA (polyvinyl alcohol), is cross-linked to form a gel and then water is removed by freeze-drying. The surface of the aerogel is coated with an organosilane, making it highly water repellent and superoleophilic (‘oil loving’).
(Oct 24, 2014) P140038US02

Low-Cost Mastitis Test Speeds Detection

UW–Madison researchers have developed a new test that takes less than two hours and can be used in the field or lab to simultaneously detect the eight most important mastitis pathogens. The assay works on DNA extractions from milk or other samples (e.g., blood or environmental) using loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) that can be performed using only the kit and a heat block.

The test involves a rapid DNA extraction method (~ 35 minutes) followed by a 47-minute running time. The researchers developed a ‘master mix’ reaction solution for all eight pathogen-specific primers.

The new assay can test for: Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus agalactiae, Streptococcus dysgalactiae, Streptococcus uberis, E. coli, Klebsiella pneumonia, coagulase-negative Staphylococci and Mycoplasma bovis. The result is a simple yes/no.
(Oct 13, 2014) P140052US02

Microbes Produce High Yields of Fatty Alcohols from Glucose

UW–Madison researchers have developed a method to produce fatty alcohols such as 1-dodecanol and 1-tetradecanol from glucose using genetically engineered microorganisms. The organism, e.g., a modified E. coli strain, overexpresses several genes (including FadD and a recombinant thioesterase gene, acyl-CoA synthetase gene and acyl-CoA reductase gene). Other gene products are functionally deleted to maximize performance.

The strain is cultured in a bioreactor in the presence of glucose.
(Oct 8, 2014) P140076US02

Treating Iron Overload with Block Copolymers

UW–Madison researchers have developed new block copolymers for forming micelles that can respond to the oxidation state of their environment and chelate iron (II) and (III) ions. At suitable concentrations the copolymers can form micelles to prolong circulation in the blood and bind to non-transferrin bound iron. The micelles then break up in cells in the presence of oxidizing agents such as hydrogen peroxide and are cleared from the body by the liver or kidney route.

The copolymers include a polyhydroxamic acid-containing block and a polyferrocenyl block. They can be prepared by standard peptide synthesis or polymerization methods.
(Oct 7, 2014) P140395US01