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2 new medtech startups will spin out of Johns Hopkins research fund grants

Hopkins is funding a cure for blindness and UTI's from prolonged catheter use.

(L to R) Nicholas J. Durr and Mandeep S. Singh. (Courtesy photos and composite image)

Two new medical startups, focusing on addressing vision loss and catheter-associated urinary tract infections (UTIs), are on the horizon thanks to the $200,000 in grants the research teams received from the Johns Hopkins University’s Louis B. Thalheimer Fund for Translational Research.

14 researchers applied to the Thalheimer Fund, which was created to provide seed funding for proof-of-concept and validation studies of inventions coming out of Hopkins. The awards from the fund range from $25,000 to $100,000.

“We are excited to have received strong applications for disruptive technologies with commercialization potential that can have a future impact on human health and well-being,” Nicole Snell, associate director of ventures at Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures’ (JHTV) FastForward accelerator, which helps university-affiliated founders commercialize their technologies, said in a statement.

These are the two winners of this year’s award:

  • Nicholas J. Durr, an assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, pitched real-time patient monitoring for catheter-associated UTIs. Durr and his research team have created a lens-free imaging device that can provide continuous, noninvasive analysis of urine with the potential to detect early signs of CA-UTI. Current UTI monitoring is reactive and allows for a large percentage of preventable UTIs from prolonged use of a catheter to occur.
  • Mandeep S. Singh, an assistant professor of ophthalmology and genetic medicine at the Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute, is creating an off-the-shelf product using cytoplasmic transfer cell (CTC) therapy. Using this intervention, which a JHTV announcement described as a “new treatment modality,” Singh and his research team’s treatment would treat inherited retinal diseases (IRD) that cause vision loss in approximately one in 4,000 people. From observations in his early studies, Singh believes CTC treatment may permanently restore vision with just one treatment. The current focus of the team is treating autosomal recessive retinitis pigmentosa, a progressive hereditary disorder that accounts for 35% of IRDs.

Danny Jacobs, a spokesperson for both JHTV and Johns Hopkins’ School of Medicine, confirmed to Technical.ly that both Singh and Durr plan to form startups around this technology. JHTV’s announcement noted that Singh has already met with potential investors, thanks to the support of fellow assistant professor and JHTV’s Medical Director Sashank Reddy

Donte Kirby is a 2020-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation.
Companies: FastForward / Johns Hopkins University / Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
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