UofM's FedEx Institute of Technology Invests in Four New Technologies

September 27, 2018 - The FedEx Institute of Technology at the University of Memphis recently awarded $80,000 in development grants to university researchers. The funds will be used to support the development of four new, commercially promising projects

"Every research idea or invention has an innovative dimension that can impact our larger world," said Dr. Jasbir Dhaliwal, executive vice president of Research and Innovation. "We see great possibilities in these four new technology inventions. This investment we are making today will help flesh out their patent potential and identify possible application areas."

The winning projects include molecular research to reduce surface bacterial and increase antibiotic efficacy, an ultrasonic aerosol dispenser for additive manufacturing use, a new cancer detection technology, and a project to support tendon and ligament reconstruction. Additional details on the projects are provided below.

"Cyclopropyl Fatty Acid Signaling Molecule Analogs and Methods for Use in Controlling Microbial Biofilms." Principal investigators are Dr. Amber Jennings and Daniel Lee Baker.

Bacterial attachment to surfaces can cause deadly infection and patient complications, especially for patients with implanted devices. The researchers have synthesized a molecule, 2CP, that shows efficacy in removing bacteria from a surface, preventing bacteria from growing and increasing antibiotic efficacy against infectious bacteria.

• "Ultrasonic Dispersion of Cohesive Dry Powders." The principal investigator is Dr. Ranganathan Gopalakrishnan.

Researchers have developed an ultrasonic disperser for dispersing dry powders as aerosols at high concentration for sustained periods of time. Through the use of FIT funds, they will develop a set of optimal operating conditions in which the aerosol generation can be controlled for additive manufacturing and other applications.

• "Single Vesicle Technology for Early Cancer Detection." Principal investigators are Drs. Xiaohua Huang and Thang Ba Hoang.

Researchers propose to develop a cost-effective method that has the potential to detect different types of cancer at early stages. It is a new way to diagnose cancer by investigating a type of tiny particles (called exosomes) in body fluids such as blood, urine and saliva. The method can spot individual cancer-derived exosomes in a vast background of healthy exosomes, and thus detects cancer in early stage.

• "CRISPR-based Synthetic Gene Regulatory Networks for Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine." The principal investigator is Dr. Gary Bowlin.

Tendon and ligament reconstruction surgical procedures have high failure rates because the anchor points into the bone are not regenerated properly. The project will use CRISPR technology (to generate genetic circuits and create programmed cells) in combination with a nanofiber template, mimicking the fibrous nature of the tissue, to engineer proper regeneration of these complex anchors. This strategy may result in better outcomes for tendon and ligament reconstruction procedures, leading to an improved quality of life and a reduction in the societal costs associated with ligament and tendon repair failures.

For more information, contact the FedEx Institute of Technology at fedex@memphis.edu.