NEW BRUNSWICK/PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- The innovative polymer research of Dr. Kathryn Uhrich, associate professor of chemistry at Rutgers, is inthe spotlight today (July 11) at the Springboard 2000 Mid-Atlanticventure forum, a session organized by the National Women's BusinessCouncil.
Uhrich is the scientific founder of Polymerix Corp., a company based ona broad range of technologies with medical, dental, cosmetic andindustrial applications. These technology platforms are the product ofher discoveries at Rutgers, and Polymerix is being created with theencouragement and support of the university.
The company makes its debut in today's forum with a presentation byPolymerix Chairman and CEO Karen Giroux to venture capital investorsgathering at America Online's Virginia headquarters. Springboard 2000is a national initiative designed to increase the investment channelsfor women entrepreneurs and facilitate investments in women-led firms bycorporate, angel and venture investors across the United States. Polymerix is seeking additional financing at the forum to manage itstechnologies, direct them toward appropriate applications, and createworking relationships with commercial entities for product developmentand eventual market introduction.
"Prominent among Dr. Uhrich's discoveries is a technology that shouldenable many well-known drugs to be made more effective and/or safer touse," said Giroux. "In the case of aspirin, the process of making itinto a plastic acceptable to the body enables the PolyAspirin™, as wecall it, to be very slowly released. The slow release feature furtherenables the local reduction of inflammation, promotion of healing andeven the stimulation of bone regrowth, a feature of particularsignificance in treating periodontal disease, the major cause of toothloss."
Other medical applications of this technology may be in the treatmentof arthritis, inflammatory bowel disorders and tuberculosis. AnotherUhrich technology planned for development through Polymerix is a methodfor making various substances water-soluble. This is expected to have awide range of applications for drug delivery, cosmetics and industrialuses. Drug-delivery tests have demonstrated a thousand-fold increase inefficiency in certain cases.
Because the new polymer drug applications utilize drugs already knownto be safe and effective, the cost to get them to market is expected tobe five- to 10-fold less than for most new drugs. More than $10 billiona year is spent in the United States on the medical products Polymerixhopes to improve or replace.
Yet another technology involves a technique for making microscopicprotein patterns on polymers. This technology also may have a widerange of applications, including repair of nerve injuries and medicaldiagnostics.
Recognizing that university-based research drives the engine of scienceand technology, and our economy, Rutgers is licensing these technologiesto Polymerix. Rutgers expects the company to develop and market theseproducts of basic research, with the goal of ultimately improving thehealth and well-being of the American public. The university's Officeof Corporate Liaison and Technology Transfer has also facilitated theprocess by making connections with business consultants and patentattorneys.
"Rutgers is very pleased to have a role in the formation of Polymerix,a company that has the potential to bring significant economic benefitsto New Jersey and provide the public with health and quality-of-lifeimprovements," said Joseph J. Seneca, university vice president foracademic affairs at Rutgers. "Professor Uhrich is a superb scientist onour faculty and Polymerix will bring her discoveries to market and helpwith the medical needs of large numbers of people."
Dr. Uhrich, a recent recipient of a Rutgers Board of Trustees ResearchFellowship for Scholarly Excellence, is a full-time member of Rutgers'Faculty of Arts and Sciences-New Brunswick. She lives in Hoboken but isoriginally from Grand Forks, N.D. Her role at Polymerix will be tochair the company's Scientific Advisory Board and to serve as aconsultant, guiding the development of her discoveries and ensuring thather ideas are appropriately marketed and made available to the public asproducts.
"I just want to do the basic research," she said. "But when my firstjournal article came out and 12 different companies called me within twodays, I knew I had to do something. If I can do my basic science andset up this company to develop it, then in the end we'll be able to helppeople and make the world a better place. This could be prettyextraordinary."
The Springboard 2000 Mid-Atlantic venture forum is one of a series offorums showcasing women entrepreneurs and providing investors withaccess to new investment opportunities in the fastest growing sector ofthe U.S. economy -- women-led businesses. Springboard 2000 isspearheaded by the National Women's Business Council in collaborationwith prominent women's business organizations, such as the Forum forWomen Entrepreneurs, the Center for Women & Enterprise, and majorcorporate technology partners.
EDITOR'S NOTE: A photo of Professor Uhrich can be downloaded from http://ur.rutgers.edu/medrel/photos/Uhrich.JPG. For additionalinformation on her research, contact Kathryn Uhrich at (732) 445-0361 orby e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. For information on PolymerixCorp., contact Karen Giroux at (732) 745-0098 or by e-mail email@example.com.
The above story is based on materials provided by Rutgers, The State University Of New Jersey. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.
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