Public Release: 

Life Sciences Discovery Fund announces commercialization grant awards

Life Sciences Discovery Fund

Seattle - (August 4, 2009) - The Life Sciences Discovery Fund (LSDF) today announced $300,000 in awards from its inaugural winter commercialization grant competition to support commercial translation of health-related technologies by two Washington state-based research teams. Commercialization grants are designed to facilitate the transition of promising ideas or technologies from Washington's non-profit research sector into marketable products and services that can improve health, foster economic growth, and promote life sciences competitiveness in the state. The grants support proof-of-concept experiments and prototype development activities that are expected to lower the risk of commercialization and help new technologies cross the "valley of death" - that stage of the commercialization pathway where development funding is particularly scarce.

One team, led by Philip Fleckman of the University of Washington, will assess the ability of a novel material to prevent infections associated with catheter use. The second team, headed by Kenneth A. Schenkman, also of the University of Washington, will conduct a clinical study of a new device for the early detection of shock. Here are the details of each awarded proposal:

Philip Fleckman, University of Washington, $150,000
Project Title: Cutaneous Healing into Porous Biomaterials Impedes Infection
Project Focus: To test the ability of a percutaneous catheter to resist infection

Percutaneous (skin-penetrating) devices such as vascular and dialysis catheters, glucose monitors, and artificial prostheses are essential for medical care. The use of these critical devices, however, is associated with high risk of infection leading to significant morbidity and mortality. The proposed work is a new approach that uses material into which the skin can heal, thus providing a barrier to microbial attachment and infection. The proposed work will test whether cutaneous integration into biomaterial inserted into the skin will resist bacterial challenge by Staphylococcus aureus, an organism that commonly infects percutaneous devices. The commercialization plan continues a fruitful collaboration with Healionics, a successful start-up biotech company that has licensed the technology from the University of Washington.

Kenneth A. Schenkman, University of Washington, $150,000
Project Title: Noninvasive Clinical Monitor for Early Detection of Shock
Project Focus: To test a new instrument for the diagnosis and monitoring of shock

Shock is a life-threatening medical condition that results in insufficient oxygen reaching body tissues. Early and definitive diagnosis of shock is difficult using current methods. As a result, many cases are missed or not picked up until the critical later stages when organ failure and death may occur. The investigators have developed a novel noninvasive clinical monitor that they believe will fundamentally improve the early detection and continuous monitoring of shock. A proof-of-concept study will be performed on trauma patients upon admission to the emergency department and within the first hours of resuscitation in the intensive care unit. The investigators hope to demonstrate that their new monitor can identify the severity of shock and serve as a sensitive indicator of the adequacy of resuscitation. The commercialization plan for the shock monitor includes the formation of a new start-up company.

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Funding for the winter commercialization grants comes from donations to LSDF for grant-making purposes by Amgen, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Group Health Cooperative, Microsoft Corp., the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, Regence BlueShield, and Safeco Insurance Foundation; and from Washington's allocation of bonus payments under the Master Tobacco Settlement Agreement of 1998, revenues arising from multi-state litigation with tobacco product manufacturers.

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