The University of Rochester has received a second patent for an implantable biosensor that can provide physicians with real time information on their patients’ health. The technology is licensed to Fairport-based Raland Therapeutics.
The technology was created at the University of Rochester Medical Center by Spencer Rosero, M.D., a heart rhythm specialist, and consists of a “living chip” that can detect subtle biological changes in the body that could provide physicians with advance warning of health problems.
The device – which Raland Therapeutics is developing under the name CytoComm Living Biosensor System – contains live cells that are engineered to detect specific biochemicals found in the body. The cells “respond” when they come into contact with these chemicals and glow when exposed to a light source. This fluorescence is detected by the device’s photonics sensors which in turn give off a wireless signal that is picked up by an external sensor.
While the technology has many potential applications, one of the first uses of the device will be in the area of chemotherapy toxicity. The target dose of chemotherapy varies from patient to patient, with the goal of administering enough of the drugs to effectively treat the cancer without triggering toxic side effects. Currently, the process of determining doses of chemotherapy drugs is obtained by measuring the patient’s height, weight, and liver and kidney function, among other factors.
By sensing the levels of the medication and other markers present in a patient’s body in real time, the CytoComm technology would enable doctors to more precisely tailor a course of chemotherapy to the patient, eliminate dramatic swings in the administration of medication, prevent toxic overdoses, and enable physicians to more consistently deliver “just the right" level of treatment.
The company is also developing a version of the implantable sensor for use in laboratory studies involving animals.
Earlier this month the University of Rochester was awarded its second patent for the technology. The first patent, issued in 2011, covered the housing of live cells. The most recent patent covers the detection of changes in the cells using photonics technology. A third patent is pending.
Raland Therapeutics is one of 11 the finalists for 43North, the world’s largest business idea competition. The finalists, trimmed down from a field of more than 6,900 applications, will pitch their ideas to a panel of judges at Shea's Performing Arts Center in Buffalo on October 30. Each finalist will win a portion of 43North's $5 million in cash prizes, which include a top award of $1 million. The 43North finalist team that receives the most tweets using their assigned hashtag (Raland Therapeutics’ is #43North10) will win an additional $10,000.