Technologies

New Inventions

Production of Medium-Chain Fatty Acids from Biorefinery Residue

UW–Madison researchers led by Profs. Daniel Noguera and Timothy Donohue have developed a method for converting unreacted chemical components in stillage to valuable medium-chain fatty acids, such as hexanoic and octanoic acids, using a mixture of microbes (e.g., anaerobic microbiome).

Operationally, a portion of the stillage stream is separated and fed to a bioreactor containing the mixture of microbes, which transforms a fraction of the stillage to MCFAs. The other fraction of the stillage can be sent on to the anaerobic digester to generate electricity (similar to existing biorefineries).
(May 10, 2019) P170271US04

New Hormone Analogs for Treating Hypoparathyroidism

UW–Madison researchers have developed backbone-modified analogs of PTH(1-34). The analogs exhibit advantageous properties; they are biased toward Gs activation/cAMP production relative to β arrestin recruitment.

The analogs were generated via an unconventional strategy in which the backbone of a natural PTHR-1 agonist was altered, rather than the side-chain complement. More specifically, selected α-amino acid residues were systemically replaced with either β-amino acid residues or with unnatural D-stereoisomer α-amino acid residues.

The researchers have shown that backbone-modification can rapidly identify potent agonists with divergent receptor-state selectivity patterns relative to a prototype peptide.
(Aug 22, 2018) P180053US02

Enzymatic Depolymerization of Lignin

UW–Madison researchers provide the first demonstration of an in vitro enzymatic system that can recycle NAD+ and GSH while releasing aromatic monomers from natural and engineered lignin oligomers, as well as model compounds composed of similar chemical building blocks. Nearly 10 percent of beta-ether units were cleaved when the system was tested on actual lignin samples.

The relevant enzymes include dehydrogenases, β-etherases and glutathione lyases. In an exemplary version, the system uses the known LigD, LigN, LigE and LigF enzymes from Sphingobium sp. strain SYK-6. A newly discovered heterodimeric β-aryl etherase (BaeA) can be used in addition to or instead of LigE.
(Aug 14, 2018) P170274US02

Soybeans with Increased Resistance to Sclerotinia Stem Rot and Drought Tolerance

UW–Madison researchers have demonstrated that knocking down expression of a specific soybean respiratory burst oxidase homolog protein (GmRBOH-VI) leads to enhanced resistance to S. sclerotiorum and confers drought tolerance.

Using protein sequence similarity searches, the researchers identified seventeen GmRBOHs and studied their contribution to Sclerotinia disease development, drought tolerance and nodulation. Transcript analysis of all seventeen GmRBOHs revealed that out of the six identified groups, group VI (GmRBOH-VI) was specifically and drastically induced following S. sclerotiorum challenge. Virus-induced gene silencing of GMRBOH-VI resulted in enhanced resistance to the fungus and, coincidently, drought stress.

Based on these discoveries, the researchers have developed modified soybeans and production methods available for licensing.
(Jul 31, 2018) P170294US03

High Yield Method to Produce HMF from Fructose

UW–Madison researchers have discovered that a solvent system comprising water and a polar aprotic solvent (e.g., acetone) is ideally suited for converting C6 carbohydrates into HMF at reasonably low temperatures (such as 120°C), low acid concentration and at very high yields and efficiencies.

The C6 carbohydrate used in the method can be derived from any source including biomass (processed or unprocessed), cellulose and lignocellulosic sources, etc. The nature of the C6 carbohydrate is not critical to the method, although fructose is preferred.
(Jul 31, 2018) P180329US01

Field Portable Smartphone Device for Water Quality Monitoring

A University of Wisconsin-Green Bay professor of chemistry has developed a portable, accurate, low cost, smartphone-based analytical device for the field-measurement and geographical mapping of environmentally relevant water quality parameters. In its current embodiment, the device is a colorimeter for measuring absorbance that includes a visible light source with onboard power, imaging filters, a sample cuvette, and a mounting mechanism for attachment to a smartphone or tablet. An accompanying app is used to record camera images of samples and convert them to numerical absorbance data for analysis. The app will be further developed to allow integration with an online ArcGIS platform for uploading and mapping the data.
(Jul 23, 2018) T150032US02

S1mplex: A New Tool for Precision Gene Editing

UW–Madison researchers have developed a modular RNA aptamer-streptavidin strategy, termed S1mplex, to ‘sharpen the scalpels’ used in genome surgery. In the new approach, CRISPR-Cas9 RNPs are complexed with a nucleic acid donor template, as well as other biotinylated molecules (e.g., quantum dots).

In human pluripotent stem cells, tailored S1mplexes increased the ratio of precisely edited to imprecisely edited alleles up to 18-fold higher than standard gene editing methods, and enriched cell populations containing multiplexed precise edits up to 42-fold.

These advances with versatile, preassembled reagents could greatly reduce the time and cost of in vitro/ex vivo gene editing applications in precision medicine and drug discovery, and aid in the development of increased and multiple dosing regimens for somatic gene editing in vivo.
(Jun 14, 2018) P170309US02

Modified Newton’s Cradle Demonstrating Mechanical Impedance

A Physics professor and inventor at the University of Wisconsin – Whitewater has developed a modified Newton’s Cradle that allows the user to visualize and test the concept of mechanical impedance in addition to momentum and energy conservation. The traditional version of Newton’s cradle has a cradle of identical metal spheres. In this modified and improved device, the user is able to interchange these spheres with ones of varying mass and material composition. By allowing the user to strategically align and create a unique cradle, they have the opportunity to visualize mechanical impedance. For example, a sphere with a small mass would have the ability to strike the cradle and lift a sphere of greater mass on the opposite side if the spheres in-between had a gradient of increasing mass themselves. The possibility of changing a sphere at any position in the cradle allows for an exceptionally large number of possible experiments and would overall lead to an enhanced understanding of the aforementioned physics concepts, something a traditional cradle device does not provide for.
(May 16, 2018) T170047US02

Novel Transparent Dilatant Materials Comprised of Single Chemical Component

Research from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point has resulted in the synthesis of a series of materials exhibiting a range of dilatant properties. The materials show good transparency and are chemically uniform (e.g. consisting of a single chemical component). The degree of dilatancy is easily controlled by adjusting the compositions of the materials. Due to the range of dilatant properties, good transparency, and single chemical component nature of the dilatant samples, these materials show significant promise for novel uses in protective equipment and other areas related to impact protection, especially where transparency is desirable.
(May 7, 2018) T170056WO01

Device to Monitor Airborne Silica for Enhanced Occupational Safety

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire have designed a new device to rapidly quantify breathable, airborne silica. This device uses a novel adaption of a technique previously used almost exclusively for water quality analysis. To achieve this, it collects ambient air and uses specialized components to purify the air and collect particles of interest into an aqueous solution. Silica particles in solution then undergo chemical processes to create an acid that is subsequently bound to a light-emitting (chemiluminescent) molecule that can be detected and measured by light-sensitive electronics. This chemiluminescence-based strategy is simpler and likely more sensitive than a potential alternative strategy of absorbance, which is more cumbersome because it requires multiple components to provide a light source, reference cell, and a light detector. The current design of this device can fit comfortably on a table top for portability, and employers can use it without specialized laboratory experience. Preliminary studies suggest that this new device has a silica particle detection limit of approximately 20 µg/m3, appropriate for use towards compliance with the new OSHA personal exposure limit of 50 µg/m3. In addition, preliminary work also indicates that the device can make measurements in as quickly as 20 minutes, making it a much faster complement to the current analysis standards that take days to weeks. Overall, this new airborne silica detection device is a compelling answer to the challenge of rapidly and cost-effectively detecting life-threatening contaminants in occupational air environments.
(Apr 9, 2018) T180036US01