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

New Protein Production Strategy for Plants

UW–Madison researchers have identified a new plant viral IRES that can facilitate the efficient expression of multiple proteins from a single mRNA. The researchers discovered the new IRES in the Triticum mosaic virus (TriMV), a wheat virus that expresses 10 proteins from a single mRNA strand.
(Jan 9, 2015) P140069US02

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

Predicting Computer Memory Failure

The researchers have now developed a method for predicting faults in static random access memory (SRAM) and cache cells. In the new method a memory circuit is artificially aged by reducing voltage, then checked using a predetermined test vector. The vector is altered if there is memory cell failure (i.e., a value of 1 will read out as 0).

The portion of memory being checked may be small and rotated through the entire memory structure to minimize overhead.
(Nov 21, 2014) P150070US01

Treating Hemophilia B with Modified Protein

A UW–Madison researcher has developed new Factor IX mutants for treating blood coagulation conditions, including hemophilia B, hemorrhagic disorder and thrombosis. The modified proteins contain combined mutations in the heparin and antithrombin binding sites that prolong half-life and stability.

The new mutants show improved in vivo activity and more sustained therapeutic effect than naturally occurring Factor IX. They could potentially be administered intravenously, orally or by another route.
(Oct 31, 2014) P150063US01

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