On July 7, 2015, it was announced that three teams from the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory are one step closer on the journey to commercializing their innovative discoveries and technology. They have each been selected to receive funding from the University of Chicago Innovation Fund. The Innovation Fund awards grants and invests in promising technologies and start-ups created by University of Chicago faculty, students, and staff. Since its inception, the Fund has invested over $3.1 million in 35 projects with high potential for societal and commercial impact. For the Spring 2015 cycle, the Innovation Fund awarded funding to 3F4AP, a PET tracer created to reveal lesions associated with multiple sclerosis during a PET scan; to Therapeutic Human Exosomes, a biologic designed to repair de-myelinated neurons in multiple sclerosis; and to the Array of Things, an urban sensing network of interactive, modular sensor boxes built by Urban Center for Computation and Data (UrbanCCD. The Array of Things collects real-time data on the city’s environment, infrastructure, and activity, bringing the Internet of Things to the “built environment,” and essentially creating a “fitness tracker” for the city. Details of the three funded projects are provided here. 3F4AP: The 3F4AP team has developed a PET tracer that could help reveal important targeted hallmarks of multiple sclerosis. PET tracers are radioactive molecules that, when injected into a subject, can reveal disease-relevant features such as tumors or lesions in the brain during a PET scan. The team took a drug that is typically used to treat MS (4-aminopyridine) and converted it into a PET tracer, which they believe will help doctors visualize demyelinated lesions in the brain and provide a way to monitor response to new remyelinating therapies.
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