UNM Rainforest Innovations

On November 9, UNM Rainforest Innovations hosted a technology showcase highlighting innovative life-science and physical-science technologies developed at the University of New Mexico. All technologies featured in the event are currently available for commercialization.

Opening remarks were given by Lisa Kuuttila, CEO & Chief Economic Development Officer at UNM Rainforest Innovations. The life-science technology presentations were moderated by Gregg Banninger, Ph.D., Innovation Manager of Life Sciences at UNMRI, and physical-science technology presentations were moderated by Arlene Young, Director of Commercialization at UNMRI.

Below are summaries of the technologies featured in the event with video links to each presentation:

Malaria Immunogen
Bryce Chackerian, Ph.D., Professor, Molecular Genetics & Microbiology

Researchers from the University of New Mexico, Johns Hopkins University, and Vaxine Pty Ltd. have developed a targeted virus-like particle (VLP) vaccine that elicits high-titer, “monoclonal-like” antibodies against a highly conserved CSP epitope. In combination with a novel adjuvant (Advax), the CSP-displaying VLPs elicit strong and durable antibody responses against CSP which protect mice from malaria challenge. Learn more about the technology here.

Bacteriophage Virus-Like Particle Vaccines for Chlamydia trachomatis Adhesion Factors and Proteins Involved in Pathogenesis
Kathryn Frietze, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Molecular Genetics & Microbiology

Researchers in the University of New Mexico’s Molecular Genetics & Microbiology Department have developed a virus-like particle (VLP) vaccine that elicits high-titer antibodies for the prevention and treatment of Chlamydia trachomatis (Ct) infection, long-term medical sequalae, and associated symptoms. It was previously unknown which Ct antibody epitopes could provide protection as a vaccine; therefore, studies were conducted on women who experienced spontaneous resolution of Ct infection, to determine antibody epitopes that could elicit protective immune responses via vaccination. Various compositions and therapeutic methods of the invention have shown to induce an immunogenic response against Ct infection, while also offering preventative measures and reduced likelihood of infection acquisition. The present vaccine provides a quick, strong, long-lasting immunogenic response. Learn more about the technology here.

Synergistic Effects Between Iron Chelators and Chk1 Inhibitors in Colorectal Cancer
Xiang Xue, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

A researcher at the University of New Mexico has discovered that iron chelators and checkpoint kinase 1 (CHK1) inhibitors both have a synergistic effect on colon homeostasis. Their results suggest that a reduction in pathway disruption and increase in iron chelation will provide a novel strategy for colorectal cancer (CRC) targeted treatment. TFRC was identified as a critical component for maintaining colon tissue homeostasis. High expression of TFRC led to increased iron uptake and accumulation in CRC, whereas TFRC disruption caused iron reduction in colon tissues. Through combinatorial inhibition, via iron chelators, and DNA repair by CHK1, colon tumor cell growth was decreased in mouse models. Using a pharmaceutical composition, as opposed to chemotherapy, offers benefits related to procedure expense and elimination of toxin exposure. Learn more about the technology here.

Multi-Source Optimal Reconfigurable Energy Harvester
Ganesh Balakrishnan, Ph.D., Associate Chair & Professor, Electrical & Computer Engineering

Multifunction and reconfigurable energy harvesters that achieve high efficiencies and lower costs in renewable energy systems have been developed by University of New Mexico researchers. The proposed harvesting technology consists of a reconfigurable device which can harness, store and utilize multiple sources of wire-free energy to power various modern mobile technologies. This reconfigurable energy harvesting system evolves and adapts to the changing availability of energy and decides to use one or more sources of energy to achieve optimal efficiencies. Learn more about the technology here.

Novel Catalyst and Method for CO Oxidation and HC Hydrogenation/Oxidation
Andrew De La Riva, Ph.D., Research Scientist, Center for Micro Engineering Materials

Researchers at the University of New Mexico have developed a synthesis method that can produce an inexpensive yet active catalyst for hydrogenation and oxidation reactions. This particular synthesis method can create catalysts with elevated oxygen transport capacities and the ability to stabilize single catalytic atoms to improve activity and efficiency. These studies have shown that catalysts synthesized with Ni showed improvement for both hydrogenation and oxidation reactions. These studies have also shown this method can be used for numerous other metals and supports, which may be beneficial for specific catalytic reactions. This route for making catalysts provides an improved and inexpensive method that can be implemented in the catalyst market, specifically in many industry-based hydrogenation/oxidation reactions that not only improves outcomes, but also cuts costs. Learn more about the technology here.

Multi-Source Sustainable-Renewable Energy Harvester
Nima Fathi, Ph.D., Research Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering

Researchers at the University of New Mexico have developed and designed a model to analyze a solar chimney power plant (SCPP) coupled to the condenser of a nuclear plant, or a solar-nuclear combined cycle. This model eliminates the circulating water system, reducing fresh water consumption. Rather than dumping the waste heat from nuclear power plants to a wet cooling tower, the waste heat is directed to the SCPP, where it can be converted to electrical energy. The results exhibit increased efficiency and effectiveness for energy consumption. The SCPP functions as both a drying cooling tower and producer of electrical power. The system is divided up into three different independent thermal cycles, providing low carbon energy locally or directly to the electrical grid. The innovative advanced combined nuclear-solar tower cycle will decrease capital cost and increase thermal efficiency through the entire system, while reducing water usage. Learn more about the technology here.

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