University of Massachusetts Amherst

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A Simple Method of Making Biocompatible Protein Films as Antimicrobial Coatings
This invention provides a simple method for making protein films or coatings for antifouling, antimicrobial, and tissue engineering applications. The films are water-stable, biocompatible and resistant to protein and bacterial fouling. The films can be fabricated on substrates with simple or complex geometries. The biodegradability of the films can be tuned to enable controlled release of functional or therapeutic agents.
Published: 7/26/2018   |   Inventor(s): Vincent Rotello, Li-Sheng Wang, Sanjana Gopalakrishnan
Category(s): Healthcare, Life Sciences, Engineering, Biotechnology
Aerobic Microbial Fuel Cell
Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) convert organic matter into electrical energy, and find applications in electricity generation and sensor powering for soil, salt and fresh water, and commercial waste environments. Typically, the anode chamber of the MFC must be kept under anaerobic conditions because of anoxic requirements for the bacteria. This both increases engineering costs and impedes proton transfer from the anode to the cathode.


Dr. Kelly Nevin Lovley and Dr. Derek Lovley patented an aerobic MFC anode electrode, allowing for the aerobic operation of an MFC. In their single-chambered design, an internal reservoir of fuel-bearing liquid is created at the anode. The anode is porous, allowing the fuel (e.g. acetate) to diffuse out and form a thick layer. At the outer layer of biofilm, oxygen will be reduced to water and the acetate fuel will be oxidized to CO2. This outer layer protects the inner layer from rapid oxidation, allowing the bacteria to generate current for weeks at a time.

Published: 12/14/2017   |   Inventor(s): Kelly Nevin Lovley, Derek Lovley
Category(s): Biotechnology, Life Sciences, Environmental
Polymeric Nanocapsules for the Treatment of Biofilms
Bacterial biofilms are widely associated with persistent infections. The amphiphilic construct of biofilms provides protection for bacterial cells by reducing absorption of conventional antimicrobials. This invention provides new antimicrobial nanocapsules that can effectively inhibit and eradiate pathogenic biofilms. The nanocapsules contain an antimicrobial essential oil and can efficiently deliver the essential oil to the cells of pathogenic bacteria in the biofilm, resulting in effective killing of the bacteria.
Published: 9/14/2015   |   Inventor(s): Vincent Rotello, Ryan Landis, Akash Gupta, Yiwei Lee
Category(s): Biotechnology, Healthcare, Life Sciences, Nanotechnology, Therapeutics & prevention
Polymeric Nanocapsules for Efficient Intracellular Delivery of Theraputic Proteins
Designing protein therapeutics is becoming one of the fastest growing strategies to treat a variety of diseases including cancer and diabetes. Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat (CRISPR)/Cas9, a bacterially constructed protein-nucleic acid complex has shown great potential to reverse various genetic disorders. The delivery of this complex into the cell and finally the nucleus is challenging, however, due to the large size of the Cas9 protein. This invention provides a general and efficient protein delivery platform that enables the intracellular delivery of therapeutic proteins. The delivery system involves the use of novel synthetic polymers capable of forming nanocapsules spontaneously under controlled conditions.
Published: 6/22/2015   |   Inventor(s): Vincent Rotello, Ryan Landis, Moumita Ray
Category(s): Biotechnology, Life Sciences, Research tools, Healthcare, Therapeutics & prevention
Efficient Cytosolic Delivery of siRNA Using Nanoparticle-Stabilized Nanocapsules
This invention provides a general and efficient protein delivery platform that enables intracellular delivery of proteins having different physiochemical properties. The delivery system involves the use of surface functionalized nanoparticles to form self-assembled superstructures with the protein to be delivered. The nanoparticle-protein assemblies effectively escape endosomal entrapment and rapidly deliver the protein into the cell cytosol or the targeting organelle. This protein delivery system has been successfully demonstrated for the efficient delivery of the CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing system as well as a number of other proteins with different physiochemical properties.
Published: 6/19/2015   |   Inventor(s): Vincent Rotello, Ying Jiang, Rui Tang
Category(s): Biotechnology, Life Sciences, Healthcare, Research tools, Therapeutics & prevention
Stable, Biocompatible and “Green” Protein Films for Antifouling, Antimicrobial and Tissue Engineering Applications
This invention provides protein films or coatings for antifouling, antimicrobial and tissue engineering applications, and scalable, environment-friendly methods for fabricating the films. The films are water-stable, biocompatible and resistant to protein and bacterial fouling, and can be made to direct human cell adhesion, alignment and growth. The films can be fabricated on both hard and flexible substrates, and the fabrication process does not involve the use of environmentally hazardous materials such as organic solvents or chemical crossslinkers. The biodegradability of the films can be tuned to enable controlled release of functional or therapeutic agents.
Published: 6/19/2015   |   Inventor(s): Vincent Rotello, Bradley Duncan, Li-Sheng Wang, Eunhee Jeoung, Chandramouleeswaran Subramani, Krishnendu Saha
Category(s): Biotechnology, Environmental, Engineering, Healthcare, Life Sciences
RNA is increasingly used as both a research and therapeutic tool to control gene expression. T7 RNA polymerase is the primary enzyme used for in vitro RNA synthesis. One problem that exists in any transcription system is that many initial RNA sequences yield substantial amounts of short, abortive products that complicate both the yield and the purity of the desired in vitro transcript.


Researches at the University of Massachusetts Amherst have developed a new series of T7 RNA polymerase mutants based on mechanistic understandings of the polymerase function. These new mutant forms of T7 RNA polymerase dramatically reduces the yield of undesired (short, abortive) transcripts in transcription. This leads to a higher fraction of transcripts being the desired full-length RNA product.

Published: 6/8/2015   |   Inventor(s): Craig Martin, Luis Ramirez-Tapia
Category(s): Biotechnology, Research tools, Life Sciences, Healthcare
Economical Surface Treatment for Harvesting Epithelial Cells from Biological Fluids
This invention provides economical, bio-interactive surfaces and surface treatment methods for selective capture of targeted epithelial cells or other cell types from cell mixtures or complex biological fluids. Preparation or fabrication of the engineered surfaces provided by this technology does not require the use of expensive and unstable biomolecular materials, and the resulting surfaces can distinguish different cell types or cells that express different levels of the same surface adhesion marker. Such engineered surfaces can be used as economical tools for assessment of cancer risk, cancer diagnosis, and tracking of the effectiveness of cancer treatments, among other potential applications.
Published: 6/3/2015   |   Inventor(s): Maria Santore, Kathleen Arcaro, Surachate Kalasin
Category(s): Biotechnology, Nanotechnology, Diagnostic technology, Devices & sensors, Life Sciences, Healthcare, Research tools
Monitoring Subsurface Microbial Activity in Real Time
Current microbial fuel cell technology for estimating rates of microbial metabolism involve expensive and sophisticated analytical techniques. Dr. Lovley’s lab group has developed a novel microbial activity sensor that functions in situ for monitoring microbial activity in real time for anaerobic soils, sediments, and groundwater. It's accomplishes this by demonstrating a direct correlation between current levels and rates of microbial activity. This novel invention can be applied to estimate rates in a wide range of soils and sediments as well as heterogeneities in microbial activity both horizontally and vertically. The monitoring system consists of a non-poised graphite anode that is embedded in the anaerobic environment, connected to an inexpensive resistor that leads to a conductive cathode. The anode is colonized by indigenous microorganisms capable of oxidizing organic compounds and hydrogen with electron transfer to the cathode. The current between the anode and the cathode is then recorded and correlated to microbial activity.
Published: 5/27/2015   |   Inventor(s): Derek Lovley, Kelly Nevin Lovley
Category(s): Biotechnology, Life Sciences, Environmental
Bacterial Polysaccharides for Inflammatory Disease
Inflammation is a healthy biological response which serves to remove harmful irritants and promote healing. However, abnormal inflammation may lead to pain, suffering, and disease, including digestive disease and autoimmune disease (e.g. multiple sclerosis). Exopolysaccharides (EPS) are polymers made up of sugars residues and are secreted by bacteria. The present invention involves administration of bacterial EPS to prevent and protect against inflammatory disease. Using animal models, the inventors have found that administration of Bacillus subtilis EPS formulations prevent intestinal inflammation. In addition, these formulations prevent development of a multiple sclerosis-like disease in mice. Thus, Bacillus subtilis EPS could be used as a therapeutic or serve as a prophylactic for inflammatory disorders, and thereby improve the quality of life for individuals with these diseases.
Published: 4/30/2015   |   Inventor(s): Barbara Osborne, Furkan Ayaz, Katherine Knight, Sara Jones
Category(s): Biotechnology, Healthcare, Life Sciences, Therapeutics & prevention
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