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Interactive comic proves effective tool for kids with autism

What has been a lifelong love of comics and video games for Tamar Medina has turned into an interesting business. Medina and his co-founders developed J-Lynn Entertainment in 2011. The Cleveland-based company makes video game comics -- interactive comics in which the reader controls the outcome.
In July, Medina began test marketing the video game comics at conventions. “The feedback we got at the comic conventions was great,” says Medina.
But at the conventions, Medina also got an unexpected reaction. Parents and teachers approached him to say his video game comics would be a helpful tool for children with autism. After some research into autism, Medina and his team discovered their games were perfect for cognitive training, collecting performance data, and research in autism spectrum disorders.
“Kids with autism have trouble reading and comprehending certain words,” Medina explains. “But reading a comic and seeing what’s going on with pictures, the kids really adhere to technology.” Because the comics are interactive, they also help autistic children develop their social and decision-making skills.
Medina went to top experts for help in developing a line of games specific to kids with autism. “At the end of the game, we put statistics on the social choices they made,” says Medina of one feature he’s incorporated. “We wanted to have it be fun and be interactive.”
J-Lynn Entertainment is still developing its regular line of video game comics and is talking to investors. The company has five employees. Medina says they are hoping to bring on a full-time programmer, and envisions J-Lynn will employ 25 to 50 people within the next five years.
“The passion is awesome and we think our product will be great, not only in improving the autism condition, but also identifying it,” says Medina. “I believe we have the ability and skills for growth. J-Lynn is currently polishing its prototype and hopes to release it this fall for android.

Source: Tamar Medina
Writer: Karin Connelly

Biomotiv announces $46m raised in effort to speed medicines to market

BioMotiv, a pharmaceutical accelerator formed last year to speed early-stage medical developments to market, announced last week that the company has now raised $46 million in total capital, adding Nationwide Mutual Insurance and several individual investors to original investors University Hospitals and the Harrington Family Foundation.

Additionally, BioMotiv announced Monday that the company has formed a multi-million dollar, seven-year partnership with San Diego-based Torrey Pines Investment, a specialty life sciences investor. “We have now raised $46 million in total funding,” says BioMotiv CEO Baiju Shah. “This further investment partnership will expand capital available for projects by up to $20 million through co-investment by Torrey Pines.”
Shah says BioMotiv has just started to identify and develop projects of interest. The partnership with Torrey Pines expands the scope of BioMotiv’s work. “We’re pleased with the prospective partnership,” says Shah. “It’s been in the works for about nine months now. In the partnership we will jointly invest in projects -- one in the cancer area and two projects in neuroscience.”
Shah says BioMotiv is also working on developments on several other fronts, including anti-inflammatory and blindness. “Our mission is to accelerate breakthrough discoveries in medications that actually benefit patients,” says Shah. “These are medications that are in the early stages of clinical validation -- phase one or two patient studies. Once we prove it works in patients, then we’re in a place to partner with agencies to get it to market.”
Cleveland is the hot spot for companies like BioMotiv, Shah says, making it attractive to companies like Torrey Pines. “Cleveland is an incredible medical innovation environment,” he says. “We are on the global radar for medical innovations, so it’s easy for us to find partners. In many ways, healthcare is our defining industry as a community.”
BioMotiv currently has eight employees, but Shah says they will be adding staff as the company continues to grow.

Source: Baiju Shah
Writer: Karin Connelly

New Cleveland-based biomed company will speed delivery of stem cells to patients

Arteriorcyte, a developer of stem cell products and medical devices in Cleveland, has launched Compass Biomedical to speed up the delivery to patients three Arteriocyte stem cells products. Created in December 2012, Compass officially got underway in June.
“The purpose of Compass is to help solve the issues in getting stem cells to patients,” says Kolby Day, Compass Biomedical vice president and general manager of research and development. “The challenges are having enough stem cells and improving the tools used.”
Compass supplies three product lines used to grow stem cells for research and in clinical settings. The products mimic bone marrow and promote the growth of stem cell cultures. “Arteriocyte is more the research and development company, while Compass is more of the team that sells, markets and gets those products into the hands of people who can use them,” says Day.

Compass has hired four people since December. As Arteriocyte develops new products, Day expects Compass will in turn expand its team. “We want to continue to build the sales team and continue finding products to sell,” he says. “We anticipate bringing in at least two to three products in the next six months, and we will be hiring based on demand.”

Source: Kolby Day
Writer: Karin Connelly

The world's most powerful MRI lands in northeast Ohio

After more than a two-year wait and construction of its very own building, the Cleveland Clinic took delivery of and installed a 7 Tesla full-body MRI last month. It is the only one of its kind in northeast Ohio, and one of only about a dozen in the country.
While the 1.5 Tesla MRI is more common, and the Clinic even has several 3 Tesla MRIs, the 7 Tesla provides a better look, even down to the cellular level. “It has special resolution where we can actually see much finer detail than a 3 Tesla or 1.5 Tesla,” says Mark Lowe, director of high field MRI at the Clinic. “With this higher special resolution you can see things you’ve never seen before.”
The MRI will be used for neuroscience research into disorders such a multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s. The finer detail will allow researchers to see focal dysplasia in epilepsy patients, or greater vascular detail in angiography. The acquisition of the new machine created two new jobs, with the potential for more future jobs with grant funding.
“The bottom line is, for years MRI has been very good at imaging soft tissue contrast, but it’s not as good in spatial resolution,” says Lowe. “This provides that spatial resolution.”
It was no easy task to get the 40-ton machine to Cleveland. Lowe and his team secured funding for the $10.5 million endeavor two and a half years ago. It was scheduled for delivery in December. But a shortage of helium, which is used to cool the MRI magnet, caused further delays.
The 7 Tesla is housed in a specially constructed building next to the Mellen Center for Multiple Sclerosis. The roof was lifted off the building to lower the MRI into place, which also comes with 350 miles of superconducting wire.

Source: Mark Lowe
Writer: Karin Connelly

Seventh healthcare organization joins Cleveland Clinic HC Innovation Alliance

Cleveland Clinic Innovations (CCI) announced last month that Wisconsin’s Marshfield Clinic Applied Sciences is the seventh clinic to join the Clinic’s Healthcare Innovation Alliance. The collaboration will help Marshfield develop and commercialize its innovations and improve healthcare.
The alliance, formed two years ago based on CCI’s 13 years of experience, is a way for the Clinic to share its knowledge while also improving upon its reputation within the healthcare industry. In Marshfield’s case, the Clinic is hiring a senior commercialization officer who will be embedded in Wisconsin.
The officer will help to advance diagnostic tools and treatments created by Marshfield Clinic physicians, researchers and staff. The Innovation Alliance also will foster the transfer of Marshfield Clinic technology into commercialization.
“It’s about getting the technology quickly to the patient,” says Brian Kolonick, associate general manager of the Innovation Alliance. “It’s all collaboration, these are not bilateral relationships. We look for ways to collaborate, to share knowledge.”
There are 65 Clinic employees working within the alliance. “If someone in the alliance has an idea, we get a person on the ground there,” says Kolonick. “We find the right person with the right expertise. It’s getting the right people to the table.”
Conversely, the Clinic also learns about what other researchers are doing around the country. “We’re about going in there and getting fresh ideas, flushing them out and commercializing them,” says Kolonick. “It’s about getting in there and shaking trees.”
The Innovation Alliance gets a percentage of the revenues from any idea that goes to market.

Source: Brian Kolonick
Writer: Karin Connelly

Northeast Ohioans flock to national work training program

WorkAdvance, a national program that provides low-income and low-skilled individuals with employment training, in conjunction with Towards Employment, a Cuyahoga County-based employment readiness agency, and seven other collaborators, has enrolled 465 local participants in its training program.

Enrollment began in June. The participants are receiving skills training and career services in manufacturing and healthcare. Rebecca Kusner, director of WorkAdvance, says two-thirds of the Cuyahoga County participants are from Cleveland.
The WorkAdvance program is part of a study to show that low-skill and low-income people with barriers to employment can meet companies’ needs if they are offered coordinated skills training and career coaching. “Often, people get GED services, but not technical training,” says Kusner. “WorkAdvance puts together all the services people need to not only get a job, but continue along a career pathway so they don’t end up back on public assistance.”
Northeast Ohio is one of four sites nationwide in the study. The program operates through federal funding from the Social Innovation Fund and under a local investment from the Fund for Our Economic Future.
Manufacturing and health care are two areas most in need of trained workers, Kusner says. “We talked to employers in both fields and asked them where they feel the pain,” she explains, adding that qualified welders were particularly in demand in Northeast Ohio.
Participants receive training at places like Tri-C, Lincoln Electric, and Lakeland Community College. Kusner reports that 30 percent of those participants in jobs after training have already received wage increases.

Source: Rebecca Kusner
Writer: Karin Connelly

MidTown Cleveland establishes endowment to further boost area development

The two square miles of real estate between downtown Cleveland and University Circle are bursting with development. To ensure that work continues to flourish, a local nonprofit has established an endowment fund.

Last month, economic development corporation MidTown Cleveland, Inc. announced the creation of the MidTown Cleveland, Inc. Endowment Fund at the Cleveland Foundation. The fund, under the foundation's guidance, proposes to build a sustainable revenue source to secure continued activity in the burgeoning district. This will include promotion of the health-tech corridor, a three-mile expanse of hospitals, business incubators, educational institutions and high-tech companies situated within MidTown.

The growing tech corridor isn't the only project the fund will support, notes MidTown chairman John Melchiorre. The group plans to leave other "footprints" on the community as well, be they demolishing old buildings, planting flowers along Euclid Avenue or helping transform distressed properties into job-creating enterprises.

"The Cleveland Foundation has been a leading supporter of the revitalization of Midtown, so this is just the latest way our two organizations have joined forces for the betterment of that neighborhood," said Kaye Ridolfi, senior vice president of advancement at the Cleveland Foundation.

Founded by Cleveland businessman Mort Mandel and others some 30 years ago, MidTown Cleveland has helped develop the area into a business district home to 600 companies and 18,000 employees. Executive director Jim Haviland views MidTown as part of the city's renaissance, and believes the fund will sustain the region for decades to come.

"It helps us to continue the role we play" within the neighborhood, says Haviland.

Sources: John Melchiorre, Jim Haviland, Kaye Ridolfi
Writer: Douglas J. Guth

Cleveland's west side welcomes $83m hospital expansion

Fairview Hospital's emergency services have gotten some much-needed room to breathe thanks to the opening of an $83-million emergency department and intensive care unit. 

The two-story, 155,000-square-foot expansion in Cleveland's West Park neighborhood debuted during a June 6 ribbon-cutting ceremony. The new ICU is scheduled to open this week.

The addition was constructed in front of the 504-bed hospital to offer improved access to emergency and critical care services, says Fairview president Jan Murphy. The expansion includes a 55-bed emergency department with a separate 16-room pediatric emergency space, two Level II trauma rooms, and an expanded ICU with 38 private patient rooms.

The undertaking dramatically enlarges the cramped quarters that sometimes had sick patients waiting in the hallway, Murphy notes. The Cleveland Clinic-affiliated hospital, which treats a significant number of patients from Lorain County, now has separate X-ray, CAT scan, lab and EKG facilities to help the emergency department speed diagnosis and treatment.

"The overall flow is conducive to faster, more efficient access," says Murphy.

The hospital president expects the new facility to handle up to 100,000 patients a year, a leap from the 76,000 visits the emergency department tallied in 2012. More room for patients and staff along with brighter lighting will lend to a more positive healing environment, she believes.

"We're thrilled to be doing this in a beautiful space," Murphy says.

Source: Jan Murphy
Writer: Douglas J. Guth

Explorys lands Trinity Health, expects to up Cleveland staff by 20 percent

Last month Trinity Health, the fourth largest Catholic healthcare system in the country, hired Explorys to manage its healthcare data analytics in its hospitals, outpatient facilities and other facilities. Trinity will implement Explorys’ suite of cloud-based big data analytics solutions to manage the company’s clinical data.

The deal puts industry leader Explorys on top in the clinical data market. Explorys has been rapidly growing since its inception nearly four years ago, and continues to grow. “We’re excited about Trinity,” says Charlie Lougheed, Explorys president and chief strategy officer. “We’ve seen a lot of growth in the past year alone, as well as the last three and a half years. The whole healthcare industry is in the midst of this transformation and big data is in the middle of that.”
Explorys’ big data solutions allow hospitals to better manage their data and therefore improve patient care. Trinity is the latest addition to more than a dozen healthcare companies that use Explorys’ solutions. “Trinity recognized they needed to select a platform that is going to expand into the future rather than solve a problem right now,” explains Lougheed. “They were looking for a platform that would grow and develop within their network, and Explorys met that need for them.”
Explorys continues to grow in its Cleveland offices. The company has close to 100 employees right now and has new-employee orientations every other month. “We plan to continue to hire people over time,” says Lougheed. “By the end of the year I expect, conservatively, to be at 120 people.”

Source: Charlie Lougheed
Writer: Karin Connelly

University of Cincinnati professor leads national PTSD treatment study

University of Cincinnati professor is one of three leading investigators in a national study that is comparing two treatments for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD.

The 17-site, $9 million study will take about three years to complete, and it will involve approximately 500 veterans at VA medical facilities across the country, says UC Clinical Psychiatry Professor Kathleen Chard.

Researchers will compare two proven PTSD treatments:

Prolonged Exposure (PE), which allows patients to work through painful memories by re-experiencing traumatic events in  safe and supportive environments, and to engage in activities they've avoided because of trauma. Prolonged exposure also emphasizes education about treatment, common reactions to trauma and breath retraining.

Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT), which focuses on patients' thoughts and feelings. This approach emphasizes how traumatic experiences changed the patients' thoughts and beliefs, and how those thoughts influence current feelings and behaviors. Patients identify and challenge unhelpful thoughts through structured therapy sessions and practice assignments.

The Institute of Medicine and the health arm of the National Academy of Sciences have endorsed both PSTD treatments, which are used for both military and civilian patients. One of the study's goals will be to determine which treatment works better when a patient has other problems, like depression or substance abuse.

Chard is co-author of the CPT military/veteran manual and the national CPT implementation director for the Department of Veterans Affairs.

"Both are gold standard treatments, but what we don't know is, if I have patient 'X,' which one should I put them in," she says. "What we have now is informed patient choice. We tell them about the treatments and they can decide what to do. We don't have solid research about what works best."

Chard is also director of UC's Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience PTSD division, which is based at the Cincinnati Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center facility in Ft. Thomas. It likely will be one of the 17 testing sites.

The findings of the study will have an impact that reaches beyond treatment for members of the military, as PTSD has been diagnosed in people who have never been in the miliary, but who have seen or lived through dangerous events, including survivors of physical and sexual assault, abuse, accidents and natural disasters.

By Feoshia H. Davis
Follow Feoshia on Twitter

EVIS provides emergency evacuation technology for healthcare facilities

In case of fire or some other emergency, the need to quickly evacuate patients from a hospital or nursing home can often create confusion among staff members and rescue workers.
That’s what Saundra Stevens observed teaching and conducting emergency evacuation drills during her 25 years as a hospital R.N. and a nursing home consultant. “To confine the spread of fire, smoke and vapors, staff immediately shut all patient doors when an alarm sounds,” she says. “With all the doors shut, however, the dilemma was always how to identify which patient rooms had been evacuated and which hadn’t.”
Concerned, Stevens turned to her son, Rob Fuller, an engineer, to see if they could come up with a solution. They established EVIS, which stands for Evacuation Identification Systems. The Cincinnati-area company has developed two emergency evacuation products -- the Evacuation Status Indicator (ESI) and the Evacuation Status Module (ESM).
“ESI is a manual device made of metal that’s mounted on the wall outside an occupied room adjacent to the door handle,” Fuller explains. “The device is hinged and held in a closed position. When the device is opened, it reveals an embossed ‘E’ shape that’s tactile, reflective and visual. During an evacuation, the rescuer opens the device after they ensure the room is empty.”
The Evacuation Status Module is an electronic version of the Evacuation Status Indicator.

“The ESM software provides a real-time overhead view of any floor within the facility,” Fuller says. “The floor plan view contains markers for each room and indicates what the status of the room is – evacuated or occupied. It also provides room temperature, hallway temperature and any motion present inside the room. All this information is available to rescuers at a safe location and enables them to better manage the evacuation, making it faster, safer and more efficient.”

The University of Cincinnati Hospital is currently installing the Evacuation Status Module.
According to Fuller, the company’s two emergency evacuation systems are the only products of their kind on the market. 
The company has received funding from Ohio Third Frontier.
Source:  Rob Fuller, Saundra Stevens, EVIS
Writer:    Lynne Meyer

CWRU researchers turn to squid beaks for medical inspiration

Researchers at CWRU have developed a material that can morph from stiff to soft, making its gradient properties potentially useful in medical implants. The research was conducted by professors Stuart Rowan, Justin Fox and Jeffrey Capadona of the macromolecular science and engineeringchemistry and biomedical engineering departments, and Paul Marasco of the Louis Stokes Cleveland Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
The inspiration for the new material came from studying the properties of squid beaks. “Squid beaks are a stiff material, but they have to attach to very soft tissue,” explains Rowan. “They don’t have any bones per se. Imagine a piece of steel attached to a piece of plastic and you started bending or putting stressors on it. Things would start to tear, and that’s obviously not very good for the squid.”
Capadona, Marasco and Rowan came up with the idea after reading a research paper published in 2008 at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Rowan and his team looked at how the squid’s beak transitions from hard to soft material. “How the squid solves the problem is with a gradient design that goes from hard to soft when wet,” explains Rowan. “We created a material with a similar kind of structure. We tried to mimic the architecture and properties.”
The nanocomposite material the researchers developed changes properties when wet -- going from a rigid material to a soft material. It potentially will prove useful in medical devices such as diabetic glucose sensors, prosthetic limbs and central vein ports. The researchers are now working with the Cleveland Department of Veterans Affairs to develop uses for the material.
The research was recently published in the Journal of the American Chemistry Society.
Rowan and Capadona previously had studied the properties of the sea cucumber, developing a self-healing polymer that is useful in coating. Rowan enjoys taking his cues from natural phenomena.
“As a materials person, I can learn a lot from seeing how nature has evolved to tackle the challenges that we see in our world, too,” Rowan says. “Nature makes a wonderful variety of very cool materials. The key is in understanding how nature does that.”

Source: Stuart Rowan
Writer: Karin Connelly

The Innovation Awards recognize SE Ohio entrepreneurs and innovators

The Innovation Awards, a regional celebration of entrepreneurship and creative innovation, honored eight southeastern Ohio entrepreneurs and innovators last month for their advances in business and technology.
Hosted by TechGROWTH Ohio, 46 finalists from across Appalachian Ohio attended the inaugural event, administered by Ohio University’s Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs. The event was organized in conjunction with the fifth anniversary of the TechGROWTH Ohio program, a public/private partnership that delivers operational assistance to startups.
Andrea Gibson, Director of Research Communications at Ohio University’s Research and Technology Center, details six different categories: Entrepreneur of the Year, Outstanding Woman In Innovation, Social Innovation, Green Innovation, Outstanding Faculty In Innovation, and Outstanding Student In Innovation. Gibson continues, saying the diversity in award categories was part of the event’s goal to “acknowledge innovation throughout southeast Ohio.”
Finalists were chosen through a nomination process at gala.ohio.edu, and judges made their decisions using specific criteria, also listed at the website.
·      Entrepreneur of the Year: Francesca Hartop, Yost Engineering, Inc.
·      Outstanding Woman In Innovation: Kelly McCall, assistant professor of endocrinology
·      Social Innovation: Brad Mitchell, Ohio Appalachian Collaborative
·      Green Innovation: Geoff and Michael Greenfield, Third Sun Solar
·      Outstanding Faculty In Innovation: Jason Trembly, Russ College of Engineering and Technology, Ohio University
·      Outstanding Student In Innovation: Huiwen Cheng, Ohio University doctoral student in chemistry
In addition, two individuals were selected by the Ohio University Foundation for the Konneker Medal for Commercialization and Entrepreneurship, named after distinguished Ohio University (OU) alumnus and entrepreneur, Wilfred Konneker. Recipient David Scholl grew Diagnostic Hybrids from a four-person stratup to the Inc. 500 list during his tenure as president and CEO. John Kopchick, a Goll-Ohio Eminent Scholar and OU professor of molecular biology, developed the FDA-approved drug, Somavert. Besides benefiting thousands of patients, the drug has additionally generated significant licensing income for the university.
Based on the reception, Gibson says Ohioans can expect to see the Innovation Awards back in 2014. “We were very pleased with how the first event unfolded,” she says. “I know we’re looking forward to doing the event again next year, and we’re hoping even more people from the region get involved.”

Source: Andrea Gibson
Writer: Joe Baur

Portsmouth's Yost Engineering sensor offers solutions to movement and orientation challenges

Housed in an historic Portsmouth shoe factory dating back to 1890, Yost Engineering is doing cutting-edge work on sensors to provide a solution to movement and orientation challenges.
The company’s new YEI 3-Space Sensor took three years to complete. “It’s an inertial sensor,” explains Francesca Hartop, ceo. “This means it can be attached to a person or object to provide precise information on that person’s or object’s motion and acceleration, as well as any impact experienced.”

Hartop notes that, while some highly accurate sensors exist, they’re very expensive. And, she points out, affordable versions are not very accurate.  “We wanted to combine high accuracy with low cost to provide the benefits of inertial sensors to a broader range of products and industries. Usually, you have to balance cost versus quality. With our YEI 3-Space Sensor, however, there’s no longer that trade off.”

The sensor has several applications. “Because it measures the motion and acceleration of objects, it’s used to control the navigation of autonomous vehicles, robots or marine vehicles,” she explains. The device is also used in sports analysis to study how the movement of an athlete or equipment affects performance.

Yost is also working with partners in physical medicine and rehabilitation and related patient support services that would like to use the sensors for applications such as tremor analysis in Parkinson’s patients and monitoring joint angles in recovering knee-replacement patients.
In addition, the YEI 3-Space Sensor is currently being tested by the Department of Defense (DOD) in several situations in which navigation needs can’t be feasibly or consistently accomplished by GPS, Hartop explains. “This includes tracking people and objects, as well as aiding in automated mapping, a technique in which a person or robot quickly runs through an area and the sensor data provides a full map without anyone having to draw or measure it out.” It’s anticipated that the DOD testing will be completed this year.
The company, which has received Third Frontier funding, has 28 staff members.

Source:  Francesca Hartop, Yost Engineering
Writer:  Lynne Meyer

Altius implantable medical device offers hope for chronic pain sufferers

Imagine waking up in pain every day.  According to the Institute of Medicine of The National Academies, more than 110 million people in the U.S. endure chronic pain of various types, ranging from migraines and serious back and foot injuries to amputations.

There’s hope on the horizon, however.
Willoughby medical device company Neuros Medical recently completed development of Altius, an implantable generator featuring the company's patented Electrical Nerve Block technology. “Altius is an implantable device that generates a high-frequency electrical stimulation signal that blocks the nerve from transmitting pain signals,” explains Jon Snyder, President and CEO of the company. “As a result, it blocks the pain signal from traveling along the nerve to the brain."
The device is about one-third the size of an iPhone and requires an incision of one to two inches. It’s typically implanted by interventional pain physicians, vascular surgeons or neurosurgeons on an outpatient basis.
“Altius is implanted in various locations of the body, wherever is best for the patient,” Snyder says. “Allowing for the incision to heal and post-operative pain to subside, it can usually be activated two weeks after implantation. Patients use a small remote control to provide on-demand treatment for their pain. The device uses a rechargeable lithium-ion battery to produce the signal, and depending on how often the patient uses it, the unit needs to be recharged every two to eight weeks,” he notes.
The initial target market for Altius is chronic amputation pain, Snyder states, with plans for other pain conditions to follow, including migraines, facial pain and chronic post-surgical pain.
“Upon FDA approval, pain physicians at about 10 to 15 clinical sites throughout the country will begin conducting safety and efficacy studies of Altius by the end of the year,” he explains. “Assuming positive results and FDA approval, we expect to have it on the market in early 2016.”
Snyder has a personal passion for helping those suffering with chronic pain. “It’s extremely gratifying to develop something that has the potential to significantly improve patients’ lives for many years to come,” he says.
Source:  Jon Snyder, Neuros Medical, Inc.
Writer:  Lynne Meyer
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