Current delivery platforms for RNA and gene editing technologies induce off-target effects and fail to specifically target tissue types. Led by Columbia’s Dr. Fatemeh Momen-Heravi and Dr. Akiva Mintz, the Enviar team has recently developed a novel customizable delivery platform—called SafeExo—based on engineered exosomes. Exosomes naturally carry biomacromolecules including different RNAs (mRNAs, regulatory miRNAs, etc.), DNAs, lipids, and proteins and can deliver their cargoes to the recipient cells, elicit functions, and mediate cellular communications. SafeExo is the first engineered exosome platform capable of eliminating endogenous nucleic acids, which greatly reduces off-target effects. SafeExo is further optimized to enhance RNA stability, CRISPR efficacy, target uptake and specific cell/tissue delivery of large payloads, such as targeted CRISPR/CAS gene editing machinery and RNAi therapeutics. This platform has the potential to treat new diseases and improve current therapies.
Datacenters are a critical component of the modern internet, responsible for processing and storing tremendous amounts of data in the “cloud.” Datacenters also provide the computational power needed for handling “big data,” a growing segment of the U.S. economy. Xscape is making the next-generation photonic communication networks for high-performance computation. Such networks are crucial for data centers, machine learning, and artificial intelligence. Our technology is based on our world-leading photonic-chip technology combined with massive frequency-division multiplexing, which allows for ultrahigh bandwidth communications up to 25 times faster than products currently on the market. This scalable technology is smaller and less expensive than current products and requires less power. The scientific founders are seeking a dedicated CEO to build the company.
WiLO Networks bridges the gap between passive RFIDs and high power Long Range (LoRa)/Sigfox to enable precision agriculture, military surveillance, fire mitigation, smart highways, and other IoT applications. Currently, WiLO Networks focus is to provide solutions for precision agriculture. WiLO Networks is building a novel physical layer communication technology based on low-power integrated circuits (ICs), which can be embedded in sensor nodes and gateways at very low cost. This physical layer technology combined with novel network architecture and protocols, as well as intelligent machine learning techniques promises a 10 year lifetime for sensor nodes powered on millimeter-scale batteries. These ultra-low power sensor networks are the key to precision agriculture, monitoring the health of buildings/bridges, and military surveillance. WiLO's solutions can reduce waste to promote sustainability and carbon neutrality.
Sense4me is developing a digital platform that predicts relapse in patients with alcohol use disorder. Through wearable sensors, sense4me provides real-time measurements of a patient’s sympathetic nervous system and hypothalamus, data that can act as an alert to subdue cravings before they cause the patient to relapse. This just-in-time intervention powered by personalized health analytics has the potential to reduce relapse rates, which can be as high as 80-95% among patients in their first year of treatment for alcohol and nicotine addiction. Dysregulation of the stress system has been associated with a shorter time to future relapse in alcoholics. By monitoring stress responses, this technology empowers the 14.8M Americans with alcohol use disorder to actively participate in their treatment and take control of their cravings. A collaboration between Columbia’s Dr. Lili Deligianni and Dr. Nasir Naqvi, sense4me is seeking $500K in seed funding to complete a wearable prototype and accompanying software.
IMIJ Technologies is a startup from the labs of Columbia’s Dr. Scott Small and Dr. Frank Provenzano that focuses on novel approaches to broad neurological and psychiatric screening and diagnostics that can be applied to existing and conventional neuroimaging - structural MRI. IMIJ has successfully developed and adapted technologies initially researched at Columbia to a variety of existing conventional neuroimaging to develop statistically rigorous candidate biomarkers, as well a fully interpretable report detailing the results. IMIJ uses the same images frequently obtained to diagnose brain diseases, images acquired tens of millions of times a year in the US alone. IMIJ's proprietary software requires no additional data or MRI equipment. IMIJ has raised $1.1M seed funding to date and is seeking $9M with the goal of securing approval for indication in order to refine the development and pilot with a major hospital system.
Dr. Xiaoyang Zhu’s research team at Columbia University developed a method for high-yield production of macroscopic 2D materials. The technique produces macroscopic 2D materials that are comparable in quality to microscopic monolayers formed by Scotch tape exfoliation, with the significant advantage of achieving high-yield production. This technology has potential to catalyze manufacturing of 2D materials such as graphene and transition metal dichalcogenide monolayers for use in many applications.
The Tissue Oracle addresses an unmet need to identify which regions of excised breast tissue should undergo histopathological assessment to diagnose breast disease. Our envisioned product deploys optical coherence tomography (OCT) imaging and artificial intelligence image analysis to achieve the microscopic-level resolution, large field of view, and fast throughput necessary for integration into clinical workflow. The value proposition is that our image-guided sample selection can reduce the number of tissue blocks submitted for histopathology, and the associated cost and workload, by 30-50%. The target customers are pathologists and administrators seeking greater efficiency for a key step in breast cancer care.
Optimer is building a platform to engineer biologic drugs to reduce the time, cost and risk of drug discovery. Despite their superiority, it’s expensive to develop biologics (6-10 years/>2B) given the difficulty in optimizing their performance on different parameters: on-target activity, toxicity, cross reactivity, etc. Researchers currently use trial-and- error approaches to sequentially improve these properties, but the antagonistic relationship between them makes optimizing challenging or even impossible. Additionally, high failure rates are driven by the fact that researchers are left in the dark about the outcome until the end of the iterative process. Optimer aims to turn this sequential, iterative process into a single-shot parallel one using a combination of physics-based machine learning and next-generation sequencing (NGS) assays to reliably discover safe and effective biologics.
Each year millions of people suffer from symptoms of sore throat, laryngitis and cough due to colds and inflammation of the upper aerodigestive tract. Current methods of treatment are suboptimal and rely primarily on throat gargles, sprays, and lozenges, which treat only the mouth and part of the upper throat. They completely miss 50% of the inflamed area. This product is an OTC inhaled liquid mist that is inexpensive, portable, disposable, natural, tastes good, and is more effective because it treats the entire upper aerodigestive tract. The target market would be everyday people with cough, voice and sore throat complaints, as well as singers and voice professionals.
Sharper Sense, spun out of Professor Wang’s Neural Engineering Lab at Columbia University, is commercializing noninvasive neuromodulation technology that improves tactile, auditory, and visual sensory acuity by enhancing the brain’s ability to clearly process detailed sensory information. This technology has many applications including performance and safety enhancement as well as treatment of sensory processing disorders and sensory loss.
Dr. Kam Leong from Columbia University’s Department of Biomedical Engineering is developing cationic biomaterial Nucleic Acid Scavengers (NAS) to treat inflammation and inflammatory diseases. The technology platform encompasses a diverse portfolio of cationic microparticles, nanoparticles, nanofibers, and membranes, for local and systemic delivery with a broad range of target indications including sepsis, rheumatoid arthritis, and cancer. Dr. Leong is an internationally renowned leader in the development of nanoscale therapeutics and has pioneered the development of multifunctional nanoscale technologies for delivering drugs, antigens, proteins, siRNA, and DNA to cells.
Immuno-Modulators of Alzheimer’s Disease (I.M.A.D.) was founded by Dr. Elizabeth Bradshaw and Dr. Wassim Elyaman from Columbia University’s Department of Neurology. The team is pioneering genetically-driven strategies to treat Alzheimer’s disease by directly targeting susceptibility genes in the CNS innate immune cells, called microglia. Their lead program is a preclinical non-antibody biologic which has been shown to target the CD33 genetic susceptibility signaling pathway in human microglia and clear β-amyloid from the brain of treated mice.
Effective treatment of abdominal and thoracic cancers requires a more targeted and improved penetration of therapeutics in order to reduce off-target side effects and increase efficacy. BioBina has developed a treatment strategy which utilizes existing radiation therapy with an increased specificity and penetration of the therapeutic to the affected tissue. The technology has been developed for ovarian cancer and has the potential to be extended to a multitude of abdominal and thoracic cancers.
Cardiac arrhythmias, including atrial fibrillation, put millions of Americans at risk of heart failure or stroke. OptiCardia has a heart visualization system giving the surgeon the ability to assess the effectiveness of Radiofrequency ablation in real time. The technology can result in more effective RF ablation and improve patient outcomes after the procedure.
Aging can lead to immunodeficiencies in patients with abnormal thymus function. As a consequence, the body is not able to produce enough new (“naïve”) T cells for the immune system to recognize pathogens and cancer cells or the body is suffering from autoimmune response. Cancer immunotherapy drugs generated $41 Billion globally in 2014, at 50% market share of the overall oncology drugs market . The invention details a new method for producing large quantities of diverse, functional, naïve autologous T cells for infusion into patients. The in vivo generated T cells arise from bone marrow stem cells taken from the patient and become genetically compatible immune cells that are tolerant of the patient and any selected transplant donor.
Patients with acute and chronic immune disorders have an increased risk of death and a reduced quality of life. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) show promise for effectively treating immune disorders and clinical trials have shown few side effects of MSCs, however naïve MSCs alone are not sufficiently effective. Immplacate will provide an effective and safe solution, allowing patients to return to a lifestyle closer to before their onset of disease, through the use of its proprietary process of educating mesenchymal stem cells (EMCs). Immplacate’s novel approach will utilize its EMC therapy where 100% of the cells are therapeutic from the moment they are injected. Immplacate is founded by Drs. Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic and Holly Wobma.
While surgical intervention via gastric bypass is effective in patients with obesity and type-II diabetes, the surgery is invasive, expensive and not reversible. Additionally, it is usually not prescribed for patients with BMI <40. Therefore, there is a need for a non-surgical alternative which is safer and less expensive but which mimics the effects of gastric bypass surgery. EndObypass achieves this with an implantable metal stent which runs through the stomach. The device mimics the anatomic and physiological changes caused by surgical procedures, resulting in dramatic weight loss and remission of diabetes. Animal studies with the implanted device have demonstrated proof of concept. The EndObypass technology provides a safe and affordable alternative to gastric bypass surgery.
The top 5 drugs sold are delivered by injection, 3 are biologics. Due to discoveries in fields like immuno-oncology, more of these high revenue drugs are biologics. Biologic drugs present a big promise, but they are met with a big problem: They are usually macromolecules, a fact that makes their formulations highly viscous and current injection devices require long injection times and larger gauge needles. The net result for patients is pain and discomfort and therefore reduced acceptance and compliance for treatments. AquaDrive (pka Inviscable) is developing a high performance actuator that could drive formulations 7x more viscous than any other technology currently available on the market, reducing the number of injections by half while minimizing device failure due to the robustness of the actuator at the core of the device.
With over 2/3 of the US population being overweight, and serious and deadly effects associated with obesity, a treatment which prevents and cures obesity is essential. However, previously tested obesity drugs have been characterized by low tolerability and serious side effects. This treatment uses LCN2, a natural appetite-suppressing hormone to treat obesity without the side effects.
Approximately 250,000 invasive breast cancer cases were diagnosed in 2019. Currently, the most commonly used definitive way to diagnose breast cancer is through a biopsy. Dr. Anastassiou's team has recently discovered attractor metagene markers as strong prognostic features for breast cancer survival and derived the BCAM (Breast Cancer Attractor Metagenes) prognostic model. This biomarker allows for a single universal prognostic assay applicable to all breast cancer subtypes and stages.
THDG3 represents a novel, patent protected omega-3 diglyceride emulsion developed by Dr. Deckelbaum’s laboratory at Columbia University. Acute injection of THDG3 emulsion following stroke leads to a marked reduction in brain tissue death (up to 90%, demonstrated in 6 rodent models), with associated preservation and recovery of both short and long term neurofunctional outcomes. Due to the high risk profile and short window of administration, less than 8% of stroke patients receive treatment with t-PA, the current standard of treatment for stroke. DeckTherapeutics is currently developing THDG3 emulsion as a drug candidate for standard emergency treatment for stroke, a global unmet need, with phase 2a trials planned in 2021.
Many disease-causing proteins are difficult to inhibit directly with biologics and small molecules. However, new advances allow for the control of the abundance of proteins using small molecules, providing a path to medicines that selectively control protein stability. Pomerex Therapeutics is building a platform for the systematic discovery of small molecules that control the stability of disease-modifying proteins. They have developed novel compounds that can cause the destruction of otherwise undruggable but crucial protein targets, including those driving the genesis and survival of aggressive cancers. They are seeking funds to expand their platform and develop their lead oncology programs.
LEGIT uses a new optical concept (a lensguide) developed at Columbia University to improve optical endoscopy. Their goal is the development of a whole microscopy probe (size ~ 0.1-1 mm) that can be inserted in the body, with minimal damage, for high resolution imaging (<1 µm resolution). The LEGIT endoscopic probe can be used for cancer diagnostics (e.g. skin and liver cancer) and in vivo biopsy imaging. The LEGIT lensguide is a higher quality and less expensive replacement for the GRIN lenses with significantly higher flexibility in design and manufacturing.
People with temporomandibular joint osteoarthritis (TMJ OA) experience pain and limited jaw function. Approximately 10 million Americans are affected by TMJ OA, and current treatments are invasive and have high failure rates. Furthermore, palliative treatments aimed at increasing short-term function don't prevent disease or promote regeneration of tissue. StemGEL, WNT Scientifics' solution to this problem, uses fibrocartilage stem cells to regenerate cartilage. They have a paper in Nature Communications (along with several other publications) detailing the successful results. The market size of TMJ OA patients that can be treated by StemGEL is approximately 2.6 million.
Spun out from the labs of Columbia’s Dr. Yuan Yang and Dr. Xi Chen, FlexFuture focuses on designing and manufacturing high-energy-density flexible batteries. With advanced core technologies of flexible materials and electrode structures, the flexible cell simultaneously exhibits state-of-the-art volumetric energy density and bending stability up to tens of thousands of cycles. FlexFuture’s battery solutions will enable flexible displays and serve as a key structural element for future wearable electronics. Collaborating with multiple international electronics companies, FlexFuture will release a battery that is compatible with conventional designs and offers enhanced battery life and comfortability for next-generation flexible devices and wearable electronics. FlexFuture is seeking $5M for pilot production and to expand the team.