New Patents

Zinc Oxide Thin Films Have Higher Electron Mobility

UW–Madison researchers have developed a room-temperature, solution-based surface treatment that improves the properties of zinc oxide film. The treatment uses molecules that bind to the film’s surface to increase electron mobility and conductivity.

In the process, a nanometer-thick film of polycrystalline zinc oxide or an alloy is disposed over a supporting substrate and a layer of organic carboxylic acid-containing molecules. The molecules can be derivatives of saturated fatty acids or photosensitizing dye. They bind to the surface of the film via their linkage groups.

The process is compatible with techniques for manufacturing large area electronics on flexible substrates.
(Sep 5, 2017) P130004US02

Non-Natural Peptides for Treating Diabetes

UW–Madison researchers have developed a new approach for designing GLP-1 receptor agonists that could be used to treat diabetes. The agonists retain GLP-1-like function but have prolonged activity in vivo.

The method includes strategically replacing native α-amino acid residues with conformationally constrained β-amino acid resides. The new α/β peptides mimic GLP-1 in terms of interacting with pancreatic beta cells and regulating blood glucose levels. The peptides are less susceptible to enzyme degradation due in part to the multiple β residue replacements.
(Aug 22, 2017) P130310US02

Visible-Range Sunlight Drives CO2 Reduction Process for Cheaper Syngas

UW–Madison researchers have developed a new method of reducing CO2 to CO via a reverse water gas shift reaction using visible solar light. The reaction produces a syngas mixture which can be further converted to liquid fuels.

In this process, CO2 (which can be obtained from many industrial processes) is contacted with a plasmonic catalyst in the presence of hydrogen. The catalyst is exposed to visible-range sunlight so that it undergoes an optical phenomenon called surface plasmon resonance, which causes metal electrons to oscillate in a certain way and accelerates the rate of CO2 reduction.

The process results in CO2 being reduced to water and CO that can be collected for downstream products.
(Aug 22, 2017) P140115US01

Enhanced HIV Treatments: Boronic Acid Group Improves Drug Potency

UW–Madison researchers have developed new, more potent protease inhibitors, particularly aspartyl protease inhibitors such as those that inhibit HIV protease.

To make the new inhibitors, certain aryl groups in existing inhibitors are replaced with aryl boronic acid groups, leading to significantly enhanced activity. The boronic acid group may be protected with a protecting group that can be removed in vivo to provide an HIV protease inhibitor prodrug.
(Aug 22, 2017) P140376US02

Bioreversible Boronates Improve Drug Delivery

A UW–Madison researcher has developed methods and reagents for enhancing cellular uptake in vivo or in vitro by attaching to any desired molecule one or more phenylboronic acid groups. The method is bioreversible; the boronate compound is cleaved from the molecule by intracellular enzymes, leaving its ‘cargo’ unaltered.

Advantageously, boronic acids readily form esters within the dense forest of polysaccharides, known as the glycocalyx, found on the surface of many cells. Targeting therapeutic agents to the glycocalyx has been shown to enhance cellular delivery. In addition, boronate groups are compatible with human physiology, appearing in chemotherapeutic agents and other remedies.
(Aug 15, 2017) P150009US02

Cooling Bed for Livestock

UW–Madison researchers have developed a new cooling mat for livestock that circulates chilled water through elastic conduction channels. Unlike existing systems that require an interfering layer of bedding, the new design provides greater heat exchange because the chilled surface is placed directly beneath a reclining animal. A layer of cushioning beneath the water channels provides support and comfort.
(Jul 18, 2017) P130304US02

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.
(Jul 18, 2017) P140076US02

Platinum-Free Catalysts for Fuel Cells

UW–Madison researchers have developed a new scheme to improve the efficiency of oxygen reduction reactions in electrochemical cells. Their method combines a redox catalyst with a charge transfer mediator capable of transferring electrons and protons. Careful redox mediator/redox catalyst pairings avoid the need for expensive metal cathodes (or anodes). Favorable pairings include quinones with cobalt or iron-containing redox catalysts, and nitroxyl-type materials paired with nitric oxide-type redox catalysts.
(Jul 18, 2017) P140274US02

More Potent UGM Inhibitors for Treating Tuberculosis and Other Microbial Infections

UW–Madison researchers and collaborators have identified a potent set of UGM inhibitors that may help fight tuberculosis and other diseases caused by microbial infections. The compounds contain a bicyclic triazolo thiadiazine core with diversified aromatic substituents. They were identified by virtually screening a database of nearly five million commercially available compounds.

The molecules inhibit the growth of microorganisms that depend on UGM to incorporate Galf residues. They also diminish the virulence of pathogenic microorganisms, such as M. tuberculosis, M. smegmatis and Klebsiella pneumonia, that rely on UGM.
(Jul 18, 2017) P140379US02

Algorithm for Selective Enhancement of Speech Signals

UW-Madison researchers have developed an audio signal enhancement system and method for speech processing, recognition and/or enhancement. Unlike traditional systems, this algorithm recognizes that contrast enhancement, when applied to non-pathological or unimpaired regions of the frequency spectrum, can actually impede a listener’s ability to understand the underlying speech. The system’s contrast enhancement algorithm and selective control mechanism provide a method to selectively manipulate or augment portions of an audio signal and allow other portions to be unenhanced or enhanced differently. As a result, this system can be used to preserve the ability of a listener to process the unenhanced or differently-enhanced portions of the audio signal.

The enhancement process is accomplished by dividing an input auditory signal into a plurality of spectral channels, and either performing or not performing enhancement on established subsets of the channels. Then the enhanced and unenhanced signals are combined to form a selectively enhanced output auditory signal.
(Jul 11, 2017) P100334US01