Funding Moves Inventions of LSU Physician-Scientists Closer to Commercialization

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NEW ORLEANS – The LSU LIFT2 Fund was created by the LSU Board of Supervisors in 2014 to leverage innovation for technology transfer across all the campuses of the LSU system. Grants from this fund are awarded to employees on a competitive basis twice a year, in amounts up to $50,000, to validate the market potential of their inventions. Half of the grants in the latest round of LSU LIFT2 funding, which amount to nearly $200,000, were awarded for technologies invented by LSU Health New Orleans faculty. They will help move the organization’s faculty inventions toward commercialization.

LSU Health New Orleans’ technologies advance diagnostics for cancer and surgical repair techniques.

Two otolaryngology faculty members – Dr. Michael Dunham and Dr. Andrew McWhorter – developed a new system to identify potentially cancerous lesions when looking at a patient’s vocal cords using an endoscope. Their invention more easily distinguishes between cancerous and non-cancerous lesions. Deploying this system when scoping a patient’s throat has the potential to rapidly identify cancerous vocal cord lesions and improve the success of surgically removing them. This invention could lead to faster diagnosis and fewer surgeries.

Dr. Eugene Woltering, chief of surgical endocrinology, and his team created a non-invasive screening test for neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) of the gut by using stool samples. The screening test, NETDetectTM, will use DNA extracted from the stool and compare it to known genes associated with NETs. The advantages of this system over other common detection methods such as blood tests and colonoscopies are the reduced cost and elimination of testing prep. This screening kit offers the ability to detect these types of tumors early, and possibly pre-cancerous NETs as well.

Surgeons Dr. Sol Mundinger and Dr. Mandi Lopez designed an improved surgical suture anchor. Surgical suture anchors are designed to connect tendons or ligaments to bone. While highly effective, the current design presents many drawbacks for surgeons. Drs. Mundinger and Lopez created the HoldTenTM, a new surgical line fixation device that re-imagines suture anchors and gives surgeons more control over suturing. The HoldTenTM‘s design allows surgeons to adjust the tension on the suture prior to setting it as well as having multiple sutures to one anchor. This minimizes the need to re-drill anchors in bone to achieve desired tension and the need for excess hardware.  Its design also permits for securing soft tissue to bone, making it a highly versatile surgical suture anchor for many specialties.

Surgeon Dr. Ian Hodgdon’s invention improves healing after bowel surgery. Bowel removal surgeries use enteric stents to help maintain bowel integrity. Dr. Hodgdon created an absorbable stent for the gut that is made of biologic materials that have already been successfully used in eye and hernia repairs. This stent will absorb leaking contents from the bowel as it heals and will eventually be degraded by gut enzymes effectively promoting stronger repair by encouraging healing and regrowth of the existing tissue around the biologic material framework.

“I’m thrilled that so many LSU Health New Orleans LIFT2 grant proposals were selected for funding,” notes Patrick Reed, RTTP, director of technology management at LSU Health New Orleans.  “Of particular interest to my office is the number of physician-inventors who submitted and received an award.  We have recently seen a sharp increase in medical device-related innovation from the clinical side of our institution, and I’m hopeful the trend will continue.  We appreciate LSU’s foresight in creating a mechanism by which to spur additional development of commercializable technologies.”

By permanently securing a portion of licensing income for the LSU LIFT2 Fund, LSU has ensured continual reinvestment in new innovation opportunities and affirmed its commitment to advancing discoveries for public benefit. Moving concepts closer to commercialization is the fundamental purpose of the LSU LIFT2 Fund.

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