The University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Medical Innovation (CMI) awarded a total of $115,000 to advance the development of five proposed solutions to medical conditions.
One of the recipients is a group developing an early-stage inhaled aerosol delivery system to efficiently deliver a CXCL10 biomimetic peptide to the lungs.
Biomimetic peptides are synthetically produced in the lab to mimic the effects of naturally-occurring peptides (small pieces of protein). The so-called FibroKine delivery system is designed to specifically help patients with pulmonary fibrosis (PF).
According to a 2010 study from Duke University titled “Inhibition of pulmonary fibrosis in mice by CXCL10 requires glycosaminoglycan binding and syndecan-4″, published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, administration of CXCL10 can be a potential therapy for the treatment of PF.
CXCL10 (also known as IP-10) is a chemokine — a signaling molecule — that has antifibrotic properties.
In the FibroKine project, Pitt researchers will test biomimetic peptides of CXCL10 as potential therapeutic agents for pulmonary fibrosis. These peptides will be administered through an inhaled aerosol delivery system that specifically targets the lungs, providing a more efficient delivery of the compounds.
The awards were given as part of CMI’s 2017 Round-2 Pilot Funding Program for Early Stage Medical Technology Research and Development.
The other four groups awarded grants are developing technologies for various conditions including peripheral artery disease, hearing loss, ocular trauma, and dental problems.
CMI, located at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering, supplies kickstart funding every year for applied technology projects in the early stages of development. The aim of the funding is to advance the technology from research to clinical use.
Groups of innovators at Pitt are encouraged to submit a proposal based on their technology. The proposals are judged based on scientific merit, technical and clinical relevance, potential healthcare impact and significance, experience of the investigators, and the project’s potential for obtaining additional financial investment.
“We have an extremely strong cohort from our 2017 Round 2 funding,” Alan D. Hirschman, PhD, CMI’s executive director, said in a press release. “The collaboration between engineering and medicine at Pitt provides a fertile setting for novel medical technology, and so we’re proud to give these researchers funding to take their ideas to the next level.”
Since it was established in 2011, CMI has invested more than $1 million to support over 50 early-stage projects.