2023 TechAccelR Participants

Sara's Team Profile Pictures

A high-throughput microfluidic setup for rapid, automated and multiplexed antibiotic susceptibility testing

Professor Sara Mahshid, Sripadh Guptha Yedire, PhD Candidate, Seyed Imman Isaac Hosseini, PhD Candidate, and Tamer AbdelFatah, PhD Candidate, all from Bioengineering

Executive Summary

As antibiotic-resistant infections continue to rise, they are projected to become the second leading cause of death by 2050. Current antimicrobial susceptibility testing (AST) methods suffer from prolonged turnaround times, high costs, and labor-intensive processes, often leading to either overprescription or conjectural prescriptions. Consequently, the timely initiation of effective antibiotic treatments is of paramount importance, as each hour of delay increases mortality by 7%, especially in cases of severe sepsis. Here, we propose to develop a multiplex ultra-rapid AST device that reports on effective antibiotic regimes within just 20 minutes without any delay for clinical culture and user involvement. Our technology leverages additive manufacturing to advance multiplexing capacity of microfluidics to 96 parallel tests for measuring minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) of antibiotics in an all-in-one device. This grant will provide the necessary resources to optimize the design and fabrication of the device and conduct proof-of-concept testing for preclinical validation. We aim to deliver a cost-effective, fast, and user-friendly AST solution, on par with 96-well plates in microbiology labs to reduce over-prescription and contribute to mitigating the antimicrobial resistance (AMR) crisis.

from left to right: Jun Song and Songrui ZhaoArtificial intelligence powered optimization and automation toolkit for atomic-precision molecular-beam epitaxy material synthesis

Professor Jun Song, Mining & Materials Engineering, and Professor Songrui Zhao, Electrical and Computer Engineering

Executive Summary

Molecular-beam epitaxy (MBE) is an advanced technology for high-precision material synthesis, but suffers from being highly cost and time intensive. This invention aims to develop an artificial intelligence (AI) powered automation apparatus to achieve automated, real-time material quality assessment and optimization of growth conditions, to provide drastic productivity/material quality enhancement and cost reduction for MBE growth of thin films, quantum dots and nanostructures. With this grant, we aim to accomplish the first proof of concept with validation, a well-informed go-to-market assessment, and to bring our technology from TRL3 to TRL5 level to prepare us for next stage of innovation.

Viviane YargeauSimple and portable time-delineated water sampling system

Professor Viviane Yargeau, Chemical Engineering

Executive Summary

There are currently no simple and affordable samplers for time-delineated water sampling on the market. The technology we developed will fill this need for environmental sampling and wastewater surveillance. 

Professor Anne-Marie Kietzig, Damon Aboud, PhD, Michael Wood, PhD, Mohammad Bagher Asadi, PhD and Gianluca Zeppetelli, all from Chemical Engineering
Highly Accurate and User-Friendly Contact Angle Analysis

Professor Anne-Marie Kietzig, Damon Aboud, PhD, Michael Wood, PhD, Mohammad Bagher Asadi, PhD and Gianluca Zeppetelli, all from Chemical Engineering

Executive Summary

Contact angle measurements (CAM), which are widely used in industry and academia alike, have the reputation of being a seemingly low cost and simple surface analysis technique owing to rather simple infrastructure requirements. However, literature showcases many examples of wrongly executed analysis and accordingly false conclusions being drawn on surface characteristics. Our novel software eliminates user error by automating key steps such as contact point determination and the identification of advancing and receding contact angles (CAs) and improves measurement accuracy by employing a novel curve fitting method. This grant will be mainly used to cover HQP salary expenses to advance our patent-pending invention from the laboratory to the market

corinne_hoesli profile picturehugo_level profile pictureMarc Antoine CampeauCommercialization of a Universal, Multi-Functional Platform for Covalent and Oriented Antibody Immobilization for Cell Capture

Professor Corinne HoesliHugo Level, PhD Candidate and Marc-Antoine Campeau, Postdoctoral researcher, all from Chemical Engineering 

Executive Summary

Strategies to recruit high-potential regenerative cells is one of the pillars for emerging cell-based therapies. When it comes to implantable devices for instance, those cells could promote better healing and reduce the risks of critical implant failure. In the last decade, there has been an increasing academic and industrial effort to create surfaces that could take advantage of such cells, by capturing them directly from the blood flow. To this end, we patented a biofunctional surface treatment that could not only capture cells but also enhance their proliferative properties. Part of our technology relies on antibodies, as they have been largely studied for their specificity and flexibility. However, grafting antibodies is not trivial: getting a proper orientation is key to preserve the antibody target-binding efficiency. Current strategies often rely on random reactive moieties which can drastically hinder their efficiency. The use of larger binding protein fragments which usually provide a better orientation is also problematic for in vivo applications. To solve these issues, our strategy has been to use specific small peptide sequences that specifically anchor at the bottom of the fragment crystallizable (Fc) region of antibodies, ensuring the right orientation for maximum target-binding efficiency. Unfortunately, this approach is currently limited to only one isotype of antibody and relies on weak interaction bonds. The grant will be used to model a library of different peptides and antibody isotypes and explore the possible matches. Subsequent efficiency and stability of those interactions will be studied in vitro, so that we can further optimize the cell-binding capacities of our surface. This project will be of critical help to increase the relevance and readiness level of our invention before moving forward with industrial partners.

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