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Enhancing the precision of plant disease management

Late blight of potato and tomato is caused by Phytophthora infestans, an oomycete plant pathogen. It is responsible for huge losses globally – often very dramatically. Huge amounts of fungicide are used globally to protect plants from late blight. In the USA alone, fungicide amounts in the range of 2000 tons annually are used. The goal of this project is to improve a Decision Support System (DSS) for tomato and potato late blight management that will facilitate ease of use by an important subset of users. This DSS will link several models into a system that can be used to predict disease dynamics based on weather conditions, host-crop resistance, and fungicide use (type and amount) as pertinent to the user’s locality, and will provide recommendations for fungicide application. We will evaluate via simulation analysis, the magnitude of benefit due to the proposed improvements. Benefit will be measured in the effectiveness of plant disease suppression and in terms of reducing fungicide load released to the environment.

Industry partner: Green Field CropTech, LLC.

Academic PI: William Fry, Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology.

Development and Validation of Customized Loading Bioreactors for Cartilage Tissue Engineering

The overall goal of this project is to develop bioreactors for the production of tissue engineered intervertebral disc (IVD) tissue. We have previously demonstrated that our image-based design of tissue engineered IVD enables successful replacement of spinal discs in rats, with promising preliminary data in dogs as well. We have also shown that mechanical conditioning of these implants greatly improves their mechanical performance; however, the bioreactors used in these studies are for laboratory-scale generation of tissue. We are partnering with GE Global Research, which has great experience in developing production-scale bioreactors, to design and validate prototype bioreactors that are more efficient and more amenable to scale-up for production of large numbers of engineered implants. This technology can someday be used in the treatment of degenerative disc disease in humans, which is a leading cause of disability in the US, affecting approximately 30 million Americans at a total annual cost of $80 billion.

Industry partner: GE Global Research.

Academic PI: Larry Bonassar, Biomedical Engineering.

Medicine on Demand: Cell-Free Production of Glycosylated Protein Therapeutics

Protein-based therapeutics currently represent one in every four new drugs approved by the FDA and command a market in excess of $120 billion annually. The vast majority of these are modified by glycosylation, the process of attaching complex sugars known as glycans to a polypeptide. The work for this project merges the fields of cell-free protein synthesis and bacterial glycoengineering in a new paradigm of biology-by-design that is anticipated to provide unique access to a wide array of new glycomedicines. Our long-term goal is to design and build a device capable of 24-hour production, purification and characterization of a glycoprotein therapeutic. As a key first step towards this goal, we will integrate a cutting edge yet proven cell-free expression system for biosimilar production with newly established cell-free glycosylation methods. In follow-on collaborative studies with GE Global Research, the resulting cell-free glycoprotein synthesis (CF-GPS) system will be linked to a portable and flexible closed system for automated protein production, purification and validation. The project will leverage the DeLisa lab's core expertise in cell-free glycoprotein synthesis with existing GE Global Research projects developing Class II medical devices and established downstream processing expertise.

Industry partner: GE Global Research.

Academic PI: Matthew DeLisa, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.

Safety assessment of lubrisynth in healthy canines

The goal of the proposed project is to complete the safety analysis of Lubrisynth® in canines, a synthetic joint lubricant developed at Cornell University that prevents the progression of osteoarthritis in the rat ACL transection model. Current treatments for osteoarthritis (e.g., NSAID therapy, corticosteroid injections and hyaluronic acid injections) relieve symptoms but have little to no effect on disease progression. The disease progresses due to the depletion of lubricin, the natural lubricant contained in joints. Articulate Biomedical, LLC, is an Ithaca-based start-up company founded to commercialize Lubrisynth®, which lubricates in the boundary mode of joints, thus halting cartilage damage, inflammation, and the progression of osteoarthritis. Funding and plans will lead to the necessary clinical trials to bring Lubrisynth® into the veterinary market, and eventually into human trials.

Industry partner: Articulate Biomedical, LLC.

Academic PIs:

  • Kei Hayashi, College of Veterinary Medicine.
  • Ursula Krotscheck College of Veterinary Medicine.
  • David Putnam, Biomedical Engineering.

Therapeutic applications of non-thermal plasma

Chronic, non-healing wounds remain a significant health care burden in terms of their morbidity, potential mortality, and overall cost. Our industry partner SteriFreeMed Plasma Processing Technologies has combined non-thermal plasma processing with hydrogen peroxide and ozone technologies to create a totally novel free radical based portable sterilization system using reactive nitrogen and oxygen species (RONS). The product that results from this research has the potential to radically change the current clinical treatment paradigm of chronic wounds to a low cost, minimally morbid therapy that promotes healing and if efficacious against even the most resistant microorganisms. Together with our industry partner, we will carry out the research to determine the short and long term effects on cells and live tissue, and the potential benefits for use as a novel therapy for the treatment of chronic wounds, which will to the development of a unique therapeutic medical device that will be able to treat chronic wounds.

Industry partner: SteriFreeMed Plasma Processing Technologies.

Academic PI: Jason Spector Cornell Weill Medical College.

Culture platforms to grow pre-vascularized tissues for regenerative medicine

A major barrier for the generalization of tissue engineering beyond thin tissues and avascular tissues is the formation of a functional, pervasive microvascular system within the tissue to support metabolic demand during culture in the lab and after implantation. Microvascular structure also plays a central role in defining pathological states of tissues (e.g., in cancer and diabetes) for which we currently lack appropriate models in vitro. Recent efforts in our labs at Cornell and Weill Cornell have made major steps toward addressing this challenge with the development of three-dimensional cultures that contain functional microvascular structure, integration with advanced instrumentation from CorSolutions, and initial demonstration of microsurgical vascular fusion (anastomosis) in an animal model. In the proposed effort, we will continue to work closely with our industry partner CorSolutions to develop a suite of tools for the growth of microvascularized cultures with control of both vascular perfusion and global environmental culture parameters.  We aim to integrate the CorSolutions advanced tools for controlling microfluidic flows with our microvascular tissue cultures to allow for efficient growth in vitro. This work aims at defining the first route to the growth of vascularized tissues for regenerative medicine and tissue-scale biological studies.

Industry partner: CorSolutions.

Academic PIs:

  • Abraham Stroock, Chemical and Biomedical Engineering.
  • Jason Spector, Cornell Weill Medical College.

Use of tethered enzyme technology to diagnose neural injury

There is enormous interest in developing Point-of-Care Testing (PoCT) technologies for neural injury because of the need for quick, objective diagnosis. We are developing a point of care platform based on tethered enzyme technology (TET), which utilizes highly sensitive and rapid coupled enzyme reactions to quantitatively detect blood-borne biomarkers. Our new partnership with Motion Intelligence, LLC (MI) provides us with two truly unique opportunities: 1) MI has a relationship with a mixed martial arts (MMA) fighting league and will give us access to pre- and post-bout blood samples. In no other circumstance can one have access to individuals who will predictably suffer Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI) at defined times; and 2) MI will share their pre- and post-bout functional data (e.g. balance, cognitive, and mixed task assays) with us. This rare opportunity to evaluate before/after biomarker profiles in conjunction with before/after functional data will not only let us have access to a large sample size in a short time, but it will also enable us to identify the best suite of biomarkers to diagnose mTBI. Reciprocally, MI benefits from this partnership in that their prognostic and return-to-function data can be evaluated in context of biochemical markers for injury. Together, this partnership will enable both technologies to accelerate their pathways to commercialization and will provide the most comprehensive diagnostic/prognostic platform for neural injury known.

Industry partner: Motion Intelligence, LLC.
Academic PI: Alexander Travis, Baker Institute for Animal Health.

Science Equipment Lending Library for K-12 New York State Teachers

The Equipment Lending Library supports K-12 science teachers who are partners with the Cornell Institute for Biology Teachers (CIBT). Each equipment kit contains all supplies, equipment and instruction needed for classroom use. The kits are shipped to the teachers without charge, and CIBT staff are available by phone or email in case the teacher needs help with the kit or activity. The goal is to provide equipment, supplies and models to science teachers of all levels so that students can experience "real science" and not just watch videos or look at simulations of experiments, which engages students who otherwise would not be interested in science. Last year this program brought hands-on science activities to over 17,000 students in New York State schools. Since the program began, more than 1,570 teachers have attended our workshops. Our goals for the 2015-16 year include: the assembly of new kits, increasing the number of teachers and districts using our kits, develop more labs and kits for elementary and middle school students, find talented undergrads and graduate students to do lab development, and train more teachers on molecular biology kits. The future competitiveness of New York State in an increasingly high-technology economic climate depends directly on the scientific literacy both of those who will enter the technology workforce and the even larger group of citizens who all live in an increasingly technical time.

Industry partner: Cornell Institute for Biology Teachers.

Academic PIs:

  • Laurel Southard Cornell Institute for Biology Teachers
  • Jeffrey Doyle, Plant Sciences