One goal of the M2P2 program is to translate our bench studies to improved patient care. To that end, members of the M2P2 program collaborate with clinicians, startups and industry on a regular basis. Here are some examples of these translation endeavors.
David Leib and Margie Ackerman tackle viral infections.
Work done in the Leib Laboratory has shown that maternal antibodies are the key for preventing lethal and debilitating herpes infections in newborns. David Leib PhD., in collaboration with Margie Ackerman PhD., (Thayer School of Engineering) and Neetu Singh MD (DHMC Neonatology) are working together to develop new antibody-based reagents to prevent neonatal herpes. In collaboration with David Knipe's group at Harvard, ongoing work is also testing a new vaccine, currently in Phase I clinical trials for genital herpes, to protect newborns against herpes infections through maternal immunization. Read more here.
The Cramer lab is developing new approaches to treating fungal infections.
Research in Robert Cramer's lab focuses on the impact of oxygen availability at sites of microbial infection, particularly focused on the lung. In collaboration Dr. Jay Buckey at the Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, the Cramer Laboratory is studying the mechanisms and impact of hyperbaric oxygen therapies on invasive fungal infections caused by the mold Aspergillus fumigatus. In addition, the Cramer Laboratory is currently collaborating with biotech companies in New England to develop adjunctive small molecule therapies that target the fungal hypoxia response to reverse the growing concern of antimicrobial drug resistance in immune-compromised patient populations.
New small molecules to treat cholera.
Jon Kull, PhD, working in collaboration with the late Ron Taylor at the Geisel School of Medicine and Gordon Gribble in the Department of Chemistry at Dartmouth, have been studying the regulation of virulence gene expression in pathogenic bacteria. Their work has produced a series of small molecule inhibitors that target ToxT, the master regulator this process in Vibrio cholerae, for which they were recently granted a patent (US 9,790,186).
Identifying new microbial biomarkers for cystic fibrosis.
Jane Hill, PhD, working with Dr. Heather Bean (Arizona State University) and Dr. Edith Zemanick (Colorado Children's Hospital), have secured funding from the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Therapeutics division to translate their biomarkers for the fast detection of Pseudomonas aeruginosa in patients with cystic fibrosis. Their study seeks to validate their biomarkers in over 300 patients from five sites in the US. This study is also part of a commercial effort to develop a handheld biosensor for infection detection.
Probiotics to treat cystic fibrosis.
George O'Toole, PhD, working with Dr. Juliette Madan, a physician-scientist at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, have been studying the gut microbiota of infants and children with cystic fibrosis. The changes they have noted in the gut microflora suggest possible probiotic interventions. Based on this work, they recently submitted a patent application and are negotiating with a company to advance this work to a clinical study.
The Geisel School's New Ventures Office helps to launch inventions and discoveries into the commercial world. This necessary, but often poorly understood, next step on the path from bench to bedside bridges the interface between academia and industry. "Industry" has many forms, and includes the world's largest companies, as well as startups created expressly for the development of a particular piece of IP. The New Ventures Office assists Dartmouth researchers with their inventions and discoveries through educational outreach, opportunity identification and development, advocacy through the patent application process (in concert with Dartmouth Tech Transfer Office), and finally monetization (e.g. finding a licensee, research sponsor, or starting a new company). We work with the major pharmaceutical companies, a variety of venture-backed companies, and have a number of startups underway. If you have an invention, a discovery, or a really surprising research result, or if you have questions about any of this, send Jake Reder an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I still do the same studies I used to do, but now they have direct clinical applications. It's motivating, and more meaningful, when we know what the work is going towards.