June 2015

Early Tech Development Course - This 4-week course began May 29. CLICK HERE for more details on the program's upcoming events.  


Major national grant competition announced for early career scientists - learn more at upcoming information sessions


Submission Deadline - Tuesday, July 28 3:00pm


Award Amount:

$500,000 to $2 million over five years


CLICK HERE for more information 

U-M researchers take step toward bringing precision medicine to all cancer patients

WATCHMAN offers patients with atrial fibrillation alternative to warfarin therapy

Urine-based test improves on PSA for detecting prostate cancer

Regenerative medicine: Injectable stem cell incubator

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Novel Targeted Drug Treats Endocrine Cancers  

Targeted drug improves drug delivery and minimizes toxicity 

Malignancies of the adrenal gland are extremely challenging to successfully treat because of a lack of durable therapies and significant drug toxicities.


U-M Medical School Faculty Mark Cohen, M.D. and U-M College of Pharmacy Faculty Anna Schwendeman, Ph.D., took a unique approach at addressing this problem. Dr. Cohen developed a lead compound with potent selectivity against human adrenocortical cancers based on his studies of novel natural and semi-synthetic withanolide compounds from the native Physalis plant. But the compound had challenges with drug solubility and circulation half-life, as well as targeting the tumor cells.  


"Withanolides are safe natural products with potent anticancer effects in ACC and other cancers," says Dr. Schwendeman. "To improve the effectiveness and targeting of these withanolides, we collaborated to develop Scarab, a novel nanoparticle-conjugate using a patented HDL-nanoparticle delivery platform that targets the SR-B1, also known as Scarab 1, receptor on cells."


The results showed that adrenal cancers naturally overexpress the SR-B1 receptor much more selectively than normal cells. This allows the HDL-nano-carrier to provide a cancer-selective enhanced intracellular drug delivery of the withanolides to the cancer cells, improving the effectiveness and targeting of these withanolides and minimizing the toxicity and side effects to other parts of the body.


"MTRAC is committed to support us as we develop Scarab and move it toward a commercial endpoint," says Dr. Cohen. "It's been a huge benefit to have that expertise and mentorship as we go through this process."


MTRAC is supported by the U-M Medical School, the U-M Tech Transfer Office, and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and works to "fast forward" projects with a high potential of commercial success, with the ultimate goal of positively impacting human health. Scarab is just one of 11 projects in the 2014 cohort funded by MTRAC. And the program recently announced its 2015 MTRAC awardees, with 11 teams set to receive early commercialization development funding this year.  


Biomedical Innovation Shark Tank

Inaugural U-M Shark Tank event makes a splash at the Michigan Growth Capital Symposium    

On May 20, the Fast Forward Medical Innovation (FFMI) team, in partnership with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, hosted U-M's first "Biomedical Innovation Shark Tank" at the Ypsilanti Marriott.  
Held in conjunction with the Business School's Michigan Growth Capital Symposium, the event provided an opportunity for six MTRAC teams to pitch their projects to sharks from the investment world. Distinguished guests among the 80+ in attendance included Dean Woolliscroft and event host, Mike Finney, special economic advisor to Governor Snyder.
Shark Tank was the culminating event of a year in commercialization education for MTRAC teams, helping prepare them to seek real-world investors for their potential biomedical projects. The competition was fierce and the energy was high, but at the end of the day Scarab Therapeutics, led by U-M Medical School Faculty Mark Cohen, M.D. and U-M College of Pharmacy Faculty Anna Schwendeman, Ph.D., was declared the winner and awarded $2,500 in discretionary research funds.

The other MTRAC project team presenters included: Thiran Jayasundera, M.D. and Matthew Johnson-Roberson, Ph.D. (EyeAnalyze); Mukesh Nyati, Ph.D. and Wayne Klohs (Pi Squared); Ulysses Balis, M.D. and Peter Higgins, M.D., Ph.D. (ThioMon); Mark Kiel, M.D., Ph.D. and Megan Lim, M.D., Ph.D. (GENOMENON); and Melvin McInnis, M.D. (PRIORI).
The Shark Tank panel included: W. Davis Griffin (River Cities Capital Fund), Nicole Walker (Baird Capital), Mark Arizmendi (Northwestern Capital Partners), Tom Shehab (Arboretum Ventures), and Mike Fulton (Hopen Life Science Ventures).  


For more information on the MTRAC program, check out our new video! 

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Mark Cuban Foundation Aids U-M Research on ACL Recovery 

New study examines growth hormone impact on ACL tear recovery and long-term effects 

Funding from the Mark Cuban Foundation, run by the well-known owner of the Dallas Mavericks, will allow University of Michigan scientists and physicians to study how human growth hormone may aid recovery from an ACL tear - one of the most frequent, traumatic, and dreaded knee injuries among athletes.


Despite advances in surgical techniques and accelerated rehabilitation, the nearly quarter of a million patients who suffer ACL tears each year still experience permanent weakness and muscle loss. This weakness largely limits their ability to return to the same level of sport performance, and can increase their chances of developing painful osteoarthritis later in life.


The clinical trial, which opened June 2, will study if growth hormone can safely improve recovery and help to prevent long-term osteoarthritis and knee join weakness after an ACL tear.


CLICK HERE to read the full article.   


Exciting Industry Collaborations From the Kretzler Lab

U-M kidney specialist, Matthias Kretzler, M.D., partners with Boehringer Ingelheim in diabetic nephropathy study   

Boehringer Ingelheim and the University of Michigan Health System are working together to discover new medicines for patients with diabetic nephropathy by investigating mechanisms of the condition in the Pima Indian population.


The unique research design consists of more than 10 years of prospective evaluation of the Pima Indians who have a high incidence of type 2 diabetes and kidney disease caused by diabetes. The research team will examine the phenotypic and molecular states before and after the onset of renal damage in the context of diabetes.


CLICK HERE to read the full article. 

Fast-tracking precision medicine: science guides re-aiming of drug to target diabetic kidney disease   

In other news from the Kretzler Lab, last weekend at the American Diabetes Association Scientific Sessions, a U-M research team led by Dr. Kretzler and Frank Brosius, M.D. presented promising results from a clinical trial of the experimental drug baricitinib in people with diabetic kidney disease. 


The results come just three and a half years after the U-M research team linked up with the company that makes the drug, Eli Lilly & Co.


FFMI's Business Development team helped make the linkage between U-M and Lilly possible, and has brokered other agreements under which companies sponsor research by U-M teams to find specific targets for drugs.   


CLICK HERE to read the full article. 

About Us

The Fast Forward Medical Innovation team at the University of Michigan Medical School works to accelerate innovation and commercialization of research at its inception, collaborate with commercial partners via novel models, and enhance medical education by fostering innovation and entrepreneurship at all levels. We help UMMS faculty and strategic partners collaborate, with the ultimate goal of accelerating research and technology to improve human health. To connect, email us or call 734-615-5060.

Office of Research
Fast Forward Medical Innovation is part of the Office of Research, where our mission is to foster an environment of innovation and efficiency that serves the U-M Medical School community and supports biomedical science from insight to impact.