A number of our projects suggest ready applications as exciting advances in biomedicine. This page is constantly being updated with new information.
Our current proof-of-principle data are largely in the frog model, and we are working to extend these into mouse and human cell models. One of the key elements of our IP is that a plethora of ion channel drugs enable the use of already human-approved (as well as novel) compounds to modulate bioelectric state without the use of gene therapy. While such electroceuticals are being pursued by others for novel advances in the nervous system, our core finding is that these pathways extend far beyond neural cells, and are applicable to many examples of cell regulation. We seek partnerships with pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, as well as early-stage investors, to develop several transformative applications in the following fields:
Voltage reporter dyes can reveal pre-cancerous cell populations in vivo, and should be developed as a diagnostic modality for the skin, oral mucosa, and tumor margins during surgery. Moreover, we've shown that control of resting potential can prevent the appearance of oncogene-driven tumors (cancer reprogramming). Finally, our work on the bioelectric induction of metastasis suggests the targeting of downstream neurotransmitter signaling elements to prevent metastatic conversion.
We have shown the use of pharmacological cocktails and ion channel misexpression to induce complete regeneration of the tail (including spinal cord and muscle) and leg. In collaboration with the Kaplan lab, we are extending this work to rodent limb regeneration using a combination of wearable bioreactors and small molecule drug regimes that regulate bioelectric state to trigger organ regrowth. We have also shown a new bioelectric method to regulate innervation from organ transplants.
We recently showed that bioelectric change can over-ride birth defects such as those induced by mutation of key brain patterning genes. We are developing a basic strategy for using induced voltage modulation (via small molecule drugs) to rescue a range of teratologies, including those induced by environmental toxin exposure as well as genetic syndromes.
In vitro bioengineering
Our data suggest that induced bioelectric state change is a powerful way to control stem cell differentiation and growth patterns of bioengineered constructs in vitro. Moreover, in vivo, we have shown the ability to use voltage pattern change to reprogram morphogenesis at the level of organs - for example, inducing complete ectopic eyes to form from gut tissue. Our technology is a toolkit that enables improved control over pattern formation for synthetic morphology applications.
We have developed a novel machine learning platform for the inference of underlying mechanistic models from function data. The strategy is applicable to any area in which the functional dataset is highly complex or deep, and allows the automated discovery of models that can be used to predict intervention strategies.