Flinn Foundation funds seven projects to translate research findings into patient care

April 12, 2021

By brianpowell

Arizona’s public universities, private institutes, and research hospitals will collaborate on seven projects to advance precision medicine, medical devices, and diagnostics as part of a Flinn Foundation program to translate research findings into patient care.

Seven grants valued at $100,000 each, awarded through the Flinn Foundation Seed Grants to Promote Translational Research in Precision Medicine Initiative, will fund projects from Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University, Translational Genomics Research Institute, and the University of Arizona. Those institutions’ researchers will collaborate with Banner University Medical Center-Tucson, Barrow Neurological Institute, and Mayo Clinic Arizona.

The two highest-performing projects at the end of the 18-month cycle will be eligible for additional $100,000 grants from the Flinn Foundation.

“Moving discoveries into practice is tremendously important for Arizona’s institutes, hospitals, and universities,” said Mary O’Reilly, Ph.D., Flinn Foundation vice president, bioscience research programs. “We’re optimistic the funding for this collaborative research will lead to additional grant support for these projects and ultimately the commercialization of their groundbreaking technology.”

This is the sixth round of the program. Since 2013, the Flinn Foundation has awarded 41 seed grants totaling $5.29 million.

By promoting translational research and advancing partnerships between researchers and clinicians with significant cross-institutional collaboration, the grant program aims to foster the Arizona’s Bioscience Roadmap research and commercialization goals.

Seed Grant Summaries

Arizona State University with Barrow Neurological Institute: Minimally Invasive Neuromodulation of Occipital Nerve to Mitigate Chronic Migraine

The project seeks to develop a portable, hand-held, neurostimulation system for a patient to use for a few minutes at a time to mitigate pain during an episode of chronic migraine. The injectable neurostimulation technique will provide the spatial precision of implanted microscale leads. This could bring relief to 1.4-2.2% of the world’s population that is impacted by chronic migraine and suffer with migraines about 15 or more days per month.

Arizona State University with Mayo Clinic Arizona: FlexBioTech Fluorescence-Based Testing for Point of Need Diagnostics

The project will adapt the current implementation of the ASU COVID-19 diagnostic system to a point-of-need diagnostic to fulfill the need of remote testing with high sensitivity. The diagnostic, which uses a robust, multiplexed, quantitative, pocket-size system, could be used for early detection of COVID-19 in developing countries. The testing relies on smartphones for the cloud storage of data and computational resources for algorithms.

Northern Arizona University with Barrow Neurological Institute: Development of a Novel Balloon-Stent Device to Improve the Embolization of Aneurysms

The project’s focus is to develop, refine, and validate a novel medical device to treat aneurysms in the brain. The prototype could be used in conjunction with current available devices and would minimize the risk of stroke effects in the short-term, and aneurysm rupture in the long-term. The balloon-stent device would provide surgeons more time to deploy embolics without blood flow arrest while obtaining more complete aneurysm treatments.

Translational Genomics Research Institute: N-GARD: A 21st Century Solution to Age-old Healthcare Problem – Antibiotic Resistance

The project will update a research-use-only antimicrobial resistance detection tool, N-GARD, which can detect hundreds of different causes of drugresistance in healthcare infections. The tool would then be validated for clinical use and adopted by TGen for use on patient specimens. The project is needed as personalized treatment requires that clinicians receive rapid, comprehensive information on a patient’s infection and likely response to therapy.

Translational Genomics Research Institute: Prevention of Inherited Genetic Disease using Whole Genome Sequencing

The project will develop tools needed to analyze entire genome sequences of couples to determine if they are at risk for transmitting an incurable genetic disorder if they become pregnant, define the limitations of such testing, address ethical and moral issues that might arise, explore issues of reimbursement for such tests, and also develop a consistent approach for genetic counseling of such couples.

University of Arizona: Enabling the Early Diagnosis of Chronic Lung Diseases with a Blood-Based Metabolomics Diagnostic Powered by Machine Learning

The project will develop a blood test that can diagnose chronic lung diseases at the onset of symptoms that is less invasive and costly. Today, it often takes between two and four years to make a correct diagnosis of the often-fatal lung diseases because of the non-specific symptoms. The new blood test would allow patients to learn their diagnosis within days and start therapeutic intervention when the responsiveness to treatment is still high.

University of Arizona with Banner University Medical Center -Tucson: A Microbiota-Sparing Live Biotherapeutic for C. difficile infection

The project looks to establish a novel treatment for the deadly bacterial pathogen C. difficile. C. difficile infections, or CDI, are the most common healthcare-associated infection in many hospitals and there are currently no preventive treatments or vaccines for the disease. The researchers will further study their non-antibiotic, orally palatable therapeutic, Syn-LAB, with the hope of moving the treatment into clinical development.