(Dec. 1, 2010)--UTSA professors Anand Ramasubramanian in the College of Engineering Department of Biomedical Engineering and Jose Lopez-Ribot in the College of Sciences Department of Biology and South Texas Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases (STCEID) have developed a prototype nanochip that can accelerate testing in drug delivery and diagnostics.
The chip uses high-throughput screening, which is technology that allows researchers to test simultaneously hundreds of thousands of small molecules for specific characteristics.
"This project started when Dr. Lopez-Ribot and I met at an interdisciplinary seminar held at UTSA," said Ramasubramanian. "We talked about his Candida albicans research, and he said that the current industry standard is 96 well plates. We thought there had to be a better way. There had to be a way to leverage today's technology to achieve faster testing."
Following the seminar, the researchers began talking about applying their ideas in practice. Shortly thereafter, with assistance from Anand Srinivasan, a graduate student in biomedical engineering, and Priya Uppuluri, a post-doctoral researcher in biology, they began developing a high-throughput nanochip to screen potential antifungal drug candidates for Candida albicans. Often fatal to individuals with weakened immune systems, this fungal organism is the third most common hospital-derived infection in the United States.
With grants from the UTSA Office for Research Commercialization and Innovation Proof of Concept fund and the University of Texas Health Science Center's Institute for the Integration of Medicine and Science, and capital equipment support from the STCEID, the researchers developed a nanochip comprised of 768 equivalent and spatially distinct Candida albicans nano-biofilms on a single microscope glass slide.
The chip already has shown to be effective in research, offering advantages including:
Now that a prototype has been created, Ramasubramanian and Lopez-Ribot are testing large libraries of compounds for potential anti-fungal activity. Ramasubramanian recently received funds from the Semp Russ Foundation of the San Antonio Area Foundation and from the San Antonio Life Sciences Institute to develop separate high-throughput chips to diagnose chlamydial infection and to screen potential breast cancer drug candidates.
The project will be in collaboration with researchers from UTSA's STCEID and the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio. Shankar Evani, a research fellow in Ramasubramanian's laboratory will assist in the effort. Lopez-Ribot is the recipient of grants from the NIH National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to study C. albicans biofilms and the pathogenesis of candidiasis.
With the long-term view of successful technology commercialization, the UTSA Center for Innovation and Technology Entrepreneurship (CITE) teams researchers with graduate students in the UTSA Management of Technology program to create a strategic technology business plan that assesses the market potential and outlines the technology roadmap necessary to bridge the gap between research development and new technology venture.
"These are the kind of synergies we can create at UTSA, bringing together phenomenal research innovation with targeted class projects that both improve the educational model for our students and help propel technology from our laboratories into the market," said Cory Hallam, CITE founding director.
The annual Center for Innovation, Technology and Entrepreneurship (CITE) 100K Venture Competition and Exposition will be held on the Main Campus on Dec. 1. Twenty-eight teams from across the university will exhibit their project; six teams will compete for a prize pool of more than $100,000 in funding to launch their new venture / company. More than 650 students have participated in launching new technology ventures.
Biotechnology, Sciences and Engineering (BSE 2.102), Main Campus
This concert features 50 community children performing music in the UTSA Downtown String Project Winter Concert. The children, led by UTSA music students studying to be music teachers, will join together in playing the Theme from Batman at their concert. The Batman of San Antonio, a local celebrity figure, will make an appearance at the concert. This event is free.
Buena Vista Theatre, Downtown Campus
Graduate student uses storytelling to highlight important issues facing children
As touch screens and e-books demand more and more attention from both casual readers and scholars, many people say the handwriting is on the wall for the printed page.
At UTSA, the handwriting is on the wall for a library that doesn't have any printed books.
Since March 2010, the bookless library in the Applied Engineering and Technology Building has given UTSA students an innovative way to read, research and work with each other to solve problems.
With ultra-modern furniture and a décor featuring desktop computers, scanners and LCD screens, the AET Library is designed to engage students in an online format. But it also offers group study niches and study rooms with whiteboards and glass walls on which students can write. The space encourages teamwork, communications and problem solving for the next generation of scientists and professional engineers.
Did you know? The UTSA AET Library is the nation's first completely bookless library on a college or university campus. It served as a model for Bexar County's first-in-the-nation public bookless library system and one of its branches, the Dr. Ricardo Romo BiblioTech.
The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.
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