Shirtliff Captures Top Tech Prize for Staph Vaccine, Diagnostics Technology
|New technology from the University of Maryland (UM) could potentially
provide a five-minute diagnostic test and a vaccine for tough-to-treat
Staphylococcus aureus infections, including the antibiotic-resistant
MRSA, often called a "super bug," says inventor Mark Shirtliff, PhD, an associate
professor at the UM School
of Dentistry in Baltimore.
Shirtliff is the winner of the 2013 BioMaryland LIFE (Leading
Innovative Faculty Entrepreneurs) Prize for the most promising
technology from the University as awarded by a judging panel at the
annual joint meeting of the UM Baltimore Commercial Advisory Board and
the Johns Hopkins University (JHU) Alliance for Science and Technology
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, and other
drug-resistant forms of bacteria too often colonize implantable medical
devices, said Shirtliff, causing many of the nearly 2 million health
care-associated infections each year in this country. Such infections
cause thousands of deaths every year and the annual cost of treating
such infections exceeds $5 billion, according to the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Shirtliff received the LIFE Prize following his presentation,
"Protective Vaccine against Staphylococcus aureus Biofilms and Other
Antigens," before an audience of more than 150 venture capitalists,
seasoned biotech entrepreneurs, and business development executives
from the biopharma industry.
"I am incredibly honored. I owe this to my lab folks and to my
dean [Christian S. Stohler, DMD, DrMedDent], my department chair
[Patrik Bavoil, PhD.] and my early faculty mentor [the late J. William
Costerton, PhD] for their support," said Shirtliff.
Dr. Shirtliff's laboratory in the School of Dentistry's Department of
Microbial Pathogenesis will receive a $50,000 award sponsored by the
Maryland Biotechnology Center and the UM Office of Technology Transfer
Shirtliff, who also serves as an adjunct associate professor in the UM
School of Medicine, said that unlike vaccine attempts elsewhere, his
vaccine candidate "for multiple forms of staph infections shows 100
percent clearance of the infections in mice." He said his
laboratory will apply the prize money to fine-tuning laminar flow assay
diagnostics, which he referred to as "a dip stick test" to determine
from a patient's blood if it is infected with MRSA. The funding also
will advance further proof of concept studies for the vaccine in test
Phil Robilotto, assistant vice
president in the UM Office of Technology Transfer, said, "Dr.
Shirtliff's invention is incredibly important because between 65 and 80 percent
of all infections are biofilm related, including many types of life-
threatening diseases such as endocarditis, osteomyelitis and pneumonia.
Dr. Shirtliff has demonstrated that multiple antigens are necessary to
provide protection against biofilms, and his vaccine has demonstrated
excellent efficacy in initial animal models.
"This is currently an extremely hot area of research and his exciting
data has already generated a great deal of interest from multiple
The LIFE Prize winner for the best new JHU technology was John Wong,
PhD, director of medical physics and professor in the JHU Department of
Radiation Oncology and Molecular Biological Sciences. Following his
presentation, "Real-time Mechanical and Dosimetric Quality Assurance
Measurements in Radiation Therapy," Wong said his laboratory would use
the $50,000 prize money to develop technology that will aid safer
delivery of radiation therapy.
At an evening ceremony honoring Shirtliff and Wong, Maryland Department
of Business and Economic Development Secretary Dominick Murray said,
"In Maryland, we are fortunate to have within our borders some of the
world's best and brightest scientific minds. We are pleased to partner
with our world-class universities to promote our state as a hub of
research and discovery."
|Posting Date: 02/25/2013
|Contact Name: Steve Berberich
|Contact Phone: 410-706-0023
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