April 10, 2014

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Utah Innovation Awards


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Utah Innovation Awards

Inventing a Better Tomorrow

By Devin Felix, Rachel Madison and Heather Stewart, Illustrations by Juliann Law

April 10, 2014

Synthetic Spider Silk by USU Synthetic Biomanufacturing Institute

Spider silk is one of the strongest natural materials on Earth, and Utah State University researchers discovered a method for synthetically producing it. The endeavor is headed by USTAR professor Dr. Randy Lewis, who has developed new fiber spinning and production techniques. These novel and scalable techniques produce materials that are strong, flexible and lightweight.

USU is able to produce longer protein chains than anyone else has reported. These long-chain proteins create characteristics that are most like natural spider silk. The university can engineer novel proteins for specific applications with an emphasis either on elasticity or tensile strength—or both. The production process is sustainable, in contrast with current materials that require harsh processing substances to be produced and are typically petroleum-based.

USU’s spider silk technology is covered by 24 U.S. and international patents, with several others pending or in the works.

Life Science : Medical Devices Finalists

PowerGlide Midline Catheter by Bard Access Systems

Nearly 150 million patients receive peripheral IV catheters every year, and on average they are stuck twice before the catheter is successfully placed. And many facilities require IVs to be removed or replaced every three or four days, meaning patients can be stuck repeatedly over the course of their therapy. The PowerGlide Midline Catheter by Bard Access Systems offers several benefits. Its all-in-one insertion mechanism and guide wire assist with difficult placement, making it more likely the IV will be placed on the first attempt. And the body-softening polyurethane catheter allows the IV to remain in place for up to 29 days, reducing or eliminating IV replacements.

Tradition midline catheters are as difficult to place as peripherally inserted central catheters (PICCs), but don’t offer as many therapy options as PICCs. Because of this, clinicians generally choose to use either PICCs or multiple peripheral IVs instead of midline catheters. The PowerGlide Midline Catheter combines the ease of peripheral IVs with the therapeutic flexibility of a PICC.

Taking the Smoke Out of Smoking by e-Nicotine Technology

About 430,000 Americans and 5 million people worldwide die each year due to smoking-related illnesses, but still most addicted smokers who try to quit are unsuccessful. E-Nicotine Technology (eNT) hopes to reduce those numbers with its eNT inhaler, which delivers a one- to three-micron aerosol of nicotine and propylene glycol to the lungs of smokers. This allows users to reduce their craving for tobacco, but without ingesting the carcinogens found in cigarette smoke.

A study showed eNT has been able to reduce smoking urges by more than 70 percent within one minute. And unlike electronic vaporizers (also called e-cigarettes), eNT works without producing second-hand vapor, allowing discrete use.

eNT can also sync with a mobile device app to track usage and user patterns to allow users to create and track personal goals. The system can also be set up to send messages about users’ progress to their loved ones so that they can offer emotional support.

UltraBLOX by BLOXR Corporation

Imaging technology allows doctors to track the locations of instruments within their patients’ bodies in real time as they perform procedures. These image-guided procedures lead to better outcomes for patients, but they can also result in higher exposure to harmful X-ray radiation for doctors who carry out such procedures. And many doctors choose not to use protective gloves because they reduce their hands’ sensitivity and dexterity.

UltraBLOX overcomes this problem. It’s a cream doctors can apply to their hands, which significantly reduces radiation exposure without limiting sensitivity and motion like gloves do. It is made of nontoxic ceramic materials and is easy to apply and remove. It’s been cleared by the FDA and labeled a safe and effective medical device.

Honorable Mention

iCalQ Point of Care Mobile Diagnosis and Decision Support System, by i-CalQ and Espiritu Design

Mechanical Systems / Chemicals / Manufacturing Finalists

Efficient Manufacturing of Quantum Dots by Navillum Nanotechnologies, LLC

Quantum dots are tiny nanocrystals that can be used to make significant improvements in a variety of technologies, including lighting, digital displays and solar power production. Quantum dot-based displays use 35 percent less energy and have a 50 percent greater color range than traditional LED technology. They can enable LED lighting to match the warmth of incandescent lights and can make solar panels up to 45 percent more efficient.

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