Co-Founder of Clemson University spinoff talks about company’s capabilities in predicting chemotherapy success

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Cancer is the second leading cause of death globally and was responsible for over 9.5 million deaths in 2018, as reported by the American Cancer Society. With over 17 million new cases in the past year, this disease can ravage an apparently healthy person within a matter of months. The effects of treatment methods, such as radiation and chemotherapy, can be an entirely separate, yet equally grueling battle for cancer patients.

KIYATEC, a Clemson University biotech spinoff founded in 2005 by Matthew Gevaert and David Orr, is currently developing innovative techniques that will assist healthcare providers in determining which chemotherapy drugs will be the most effective on individual ovarian cancer patients, using KIYATEC’s Ex Vivo 3D Cell Culture technology (EV3D). 

EV3D, a technology that grew out of research conducted at Clemson University, is a novel method that allows scientists to insert a patient’s cancer cells into a three-dimensional cell culture, an environment that more closely resembles the human body, rather than a traditional, flat petri dish. Using these cell cultures, researchers are able to determine which chemotherapy drugs are the most effective on a person-by-person basis with 89% accuracy rate. 

Based in Greenville, SC, KIYATEC tirelessly works to create a better future for cancer patients. Their research and accomplishments have allowed KIYATEC to make a significant impact on the world of health care. 

To learn more about KIYATEC, click here.

About KIYATEC, Inc.

KIYATEC leverages its proprietary ex vivo 3D cell culture technology platforms to accurately model and predict response to approved and investigational cancer drugs targeting a spectrum of solid tumors. The company’s Drug Development Services business works in partnership with leading biopharmaceutical companies to unlock response dynamics for their investigational drug candidates across the majority of solid tumor types. The company’s Clinical Services business is currently engaged in the validation of clinical assays as well as investigator-initiated studies in ovarian cancer, breast cancer, glioblastoma and rare tumors, in its CLIA-certified laboratory. To learn more about KIYATEC, visit www.kiyatec.com

Promoting collaboration between Clemson research and industry

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On October 22, Clemson University and the Clemson University Research Foundation (CURF) hosted the first event of the INSPIRE series. The Innovation Series for Partnering Industry with the Research Enterprise (INSPIRE) offers a number of targeted events designed to support and enhance both new and existing relationships between Clemson University’s research enterprise and industrial partners. The first event of the series, the SBIR/STTR Workshop, offered attendees the opportunity to learn the various aspects of finding, writing, and securing Small Business Innovation (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grants. 

“Without question, the INSPIRE initial event exceeded our expectations, and we will carry this momentum of success into the upcoming events,” said Chase Kasper, Clemson University Research Foundation Director of Business Development. “Future events are already in the works in areas such as agribusiness, defense contractors, and health care. The response has been overwhelmingly positive from the private sector and our faculty.”

The event featured 3PhaseSC, a resource created by the South Carolina Department of Commerce aimed at assisting South Carolina based companies with successfully acquiring SBIR/STTR funding, who highlighted the countless federal agencies who provide small business funding and the strategies to find and secure that funding. 

“I was extremely impressed to learn more about the INSPIRE initiative at Clemson.  The content they put together for this conference was top notch, and the audience was excellent!  I can see INSPIRE leading to strong industry partners, more academic research, and an increase in startup activity,” said Tyler Garmon, 3Phase SC Program Manager and presenter at the SBIR/STTR Workshop. 

Additional speakers at the workshop included: keynote speaker Dr. Tanju Karanfil (Clemson University Vice President for Research), South Carolina Research Authority (SCRA), i4 Series, Agribusiness Center for Research and Entrepreneurship (ACRE), SCORE, Clemson University Office of Industry Contracts, Clemson University Office of Sponsored Programs, Recovr, Inc., and the National Science Foundation (NSF). 

Of the workshop, Ed Treglia, Vice President and General Manager of Ulbrich Specialty Wire Products, said, “INSPIRE provided a great forum to bring together small business, industry and research institutes.  Even for a company like Ulbrich, who can’t directly participate in SBIR/STTRs due to our size, INSPIRE was beneficial. We are pleased that CURF has launched the INSPIRE series of events and are looking forward to our continued participation in them.” 

Erin Roussey, President of US Building Innovations, Inc., deemed the event “an excellent resource for small businesses.” 

The Clemson University Research Foundation is working to continually create opportunities to develop and enhance long-term collaborations between the Clemson University research enterprise and industrial partners. In an effort to support this initiative, CURF will be offering more customized INSPIRE events in the near future in areas including, but not limited to, agribusiness and health care. 

For more information on INSPIRE and upcoming events, contact cuinspire@clemson.edu

Funding program to advance Clemson technology development

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The Clemson University Research Foundation (CURF) has announced seven researchers will be awarded fiscal year 2020 Technology Maturation Fund grants. 

The CURF Technology Maturation Fund supports researchers as they embark on the crucial last stage needed to move their technology from innovation to commercialization. 

 “The Technology Maturation Fund initiative assists in shaping a pathway for innovation and providing Clemson faculty with the unique opportunity to further their technological development,” said Chris Gesswein, CURF’s executive director. “The program has repeatedly demonstrated that targeted, strategic investments can have a significant impact on the probability of commercial licensing, industry collaboration, or follow-on research dollars. Congratulations to the recipients for their dedication to academic research and for the innovative contributions they have made to the Clemson University research enterprise.”

Since the Technology Maturation Fund program launched in 2014, CURF has awarded over $870,000 in maturation funds to Clemson researchers.

This year’s awards range from approximately $6,000 to $39,000 and were granted to:

  • Jeremy Mercuri, associate professor in the department of bioengineering, to further develop a new biomimetic osteochondral construct to be used in the repair of critically sized focal osteochondral defects through testing. This method doesn’t suffer from the traditional drawbacks many other treatments do that can lead to lower quality repair tissue, complications at the donor site, higher costs, and the inability to integrate repair tissue with the surrounding healthy tissue. 
  • Mark Roberts, associate professor in the department of chemical engineering, to continue development of a new type of electrode material for energy storage, carbon nanotubes with confined redox-active iron nanoparticles, that allows faster charge transfer rates and more than a 5x increase in power density relative to redox flow batteries. This new material provides a more efficient, inexpensive process with less voltage loss and the ability to use more abundant metals. 
  • Christopher Saski, associate professor in the department of plant & environmental sciences, to advance a new biotechnology involving extra-chromosomal circular DNA in the Amaranthus palmeri plant species, which contains and expresses genes and biochemical pathways that can facilitate gene copy number increases and mitotic stability. This technology enables targeted gene amplification and the engineering of the expression of complex crop genes to exhibit agronomically beneficial traits, while simultaneously reducing engineering constraints such as silencing, low-copy number, and non-target effects. 
  • Erica Walker, assistant professor in the department of graphic communications, in collaboration with Hudson Smith, research associate in analytical systems and applications, will continue development of ColorNet, a color-management system based on Neural Networks, which takes in color-incorrect images and automatically outputs color-correct images when displaying brand colors on jumbotrons. This correction alters only brand specific sections of the image, as improperly displayed brand colors can negatively impact the brand and fan experience. 
  • Daniel Whitehead, associate professor in the department of chemistry, to continue development of a new method for the synthesis of diazacyclobutene molecules. This technology produces an effective concentration of a drug capable of killing 50% of blood-stream form parasites in observed cultures. This molecular scaffolding has the potential to manage Human African Trypanosomiasis, a neglected tropical disease with only a handful of effective drug therapies, most of which cause significant, even lethal, adverse side effects. 
  • Dan Simionescu, professor in the department of bioengineering, to further develop a technology that efficiently seeds cells into scaffolds or tissues at multiple locations with high efficacy. Current methods of seeding cells are limited to static or injection seeding, which do not ensure uniform cell distribution or penetration of cells into scaffolds. This technology can seed millions of cells in a controlled pattern via a roller, which can improve regenerative medical and cellular therapy techniques. *This project was funded in conjunction with the department of bioengineering.
  • Victor Zordan, professor in the School of Computing, to continue the exploration of computer-controlled embroidery design and stitching, which covers the making of purposeful, precision changes to material properties of a base textile. This technique can increase the local tensile strength of a 4-way-stretch fabric, up to 10 times the original amount, to create tailored distributions of mechanical properties in the resulting embroidered materials. 

CURF will be accepting applications for the fiscal year 2021 Technology Maturation Fund this spring, the RFP release and proposal deadlines to be announced. For more information, visit curf.clemson.edu or contact the CURF office at curf@clemson.edu.