UNM Rainforest Innovations

On June 8, UNM Rainforest Innovations, in partnership with the New Mexico Technology Council, hosted a special Technology Showcase – Women in Technology Edition featuring women innovators from the University of New Mexico.

The event featured six University of New Mexico women innovators presenting life-science and physical-science technologies available for commercialization. The event started with an introduction from UNM Rainforest Innovations’ CEO & Chief Economic Development Officer Lisa Kuuttila and opening remarks were given by Deborah Breitfield, Executive Director of the New Mexico Technology Council.

Below are summaries of the technologies featured:

Virus-like Particle Vaccines for Opioid Drugs
Kathryn Frietze, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Molecular Genetics & Microbiology
Learn more about the technology here: https://unm.flintbox.com/technologies/ce330ae1-6056-4048-88d3-9c68dbd08d10

This is a novel treatment method for opioid use disorders which uses virus-like particles (VLPs) derived from bacteriophage. Bacteriophage VLPs are ideal in vaccines, due to their highly immunogenic, self-assembling protein structures. This treatment method can be used for prevention of opioid use disorder and addiction; as well as, a complementary treatment.

Inhibitor of Early and Late-Stage Protein Misfolding Diseases
Michelle Ozbun, Ph.D., Professor, Molecular Genetics & Microbiology
Learn more about the technology here: https://unm.flintbox.com/technologies/de33286b-83e5-45c5-b88a-6eb7f6ae67cb

This technology utilizes arginine-rich polypeptides to efficiently inhibit HPV activity. Arginine-rich polypeptides can be used to inhibit HPV from binding to a cell, inhibit intracellular processing of HPV by a cell, and/or treat a subject having, or at risk of having, an HPV infection. Using in vitro and in vivo experiments, researchers were able to test that this technology efficiently inhibits early and late stages of HPV 16 infection. Furthermore, this technology may be used for prevention of infection, or to suppress infection and ameliorate an ailment in infected persons.

Novel Theranostics for Protein Misfolding Diseases
Eva Chi, Ph.D., Associate Chairperson & Professor, Chemical & Biological Engineering
Learn more about the technology here: https://unm.flintbox.com/technologies/4ab02f97-523a-4380-814b-b9fa28445495

This technology established the use of novel theranostics for neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. Research discovered that the photosensitization activity of certain oligo-phenynlene ethynlenes (OPEs) can be turned on when their fluorescence is turned on by binding to specific biological entities, such as amyloid protein aggregates. This can subsequently cause localized oxidation of the amyloid aggregates and trigger their clearance in the brain. As the protein aggregates are recognized as toxic species implicated in the pathogenesis of these disorders, clearance of these aggregates could result in slowing down or reversing the progression of these diseases.

A Novel Liquid Metal of High Density and Low Viscosity at Room Temperature
Mahya Hatambeigi, Research Assistant, Civil Engineering
Learn more about the technology here: https://unm.flintbox.com/technologies/fa463cef-b89c-4ed0-b608-b43d657061d5

This novel metal alloy exhibits liquid properties at room temperature and solid properties at temperatures below 16.2 °C (61.2 °F). The temperatures at which the metal alloy is liquid and turns to solid can also be altered based on the purpose and application. This new alloy has a negligible vapor pressure at room temperature compared to other available commercial liquid metals; as a result, it eliminates the danger of inhalation and environmental concerns, making this new alloy non-toxic. With these beneficial properties, the developed liquid metal alloy can be useful for numerous applications, such as porosimetry, electronic components, semiconductors, fusion reactors, wellbore fractures, among others in the medical and defense industries.

Environmentally Friendly Larvicide Delivery System
Ivy Hurwitz, Ph.D., Research Associate Professor, Internal Medicine – Infectious Diseases
Learn more about the technology here: https://unm.flintbox.com/technologies/64b6c9c7-c610-4a8a-b510-00e8f5de91ed

This technology is an effective and more environmentally conscious method of larvae control. Research has been done into the effectiveness of certain essential oils and their effect on target larvae. This method includes an encapsulation process to deliver essential oils to larvae in a manner that is efficient, efficacious, and does not adversely impact the aquatic ecosystem. This approach is less expensive than current larvicide programs and the broad-spectrum of effects makes it difficult for the larvae to develop a resistance.

Autonomous Defense Escort Teams
Lydia Tapia, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Computer Science
Learn more about the technology here: https://unm.flintbox.com/technologies/80da887f-427b-4f4a-b5aa-bc74530be1f8

This technology is an autonomous, fully distributed end-to-end solution for navigation scenarios through deployment of deep reinforcement learning (RL). The escort agents are trained to protect the payload, interacting with obstacles to avoid collision and maintain payload safety. The escorts rely on environment observations, to automatically adapt and position themselves around the payload based on stochastic and interacting motions of the obstacles. The deep RL enables the escorts to respond to disruptions in the system, changes in payload size, obstacle density, and gain/loss of escorts, without the utilization of advanced algorithms. This invention provides an end-to-end solution for escort coordination with the goal of payload safety.

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