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IU School of Medicine Spinoff Firm Receives Funding to Commercialize Services


INphoton is based on research work at the Department of Medicine’s Division of Nephrology and the Indiana Center for Biological Microscopy, where powerful light microscopes make it possible to produce detailed three dimensional images of cells and to analyze activities in living cells within the body. Approximately half the award, to Drs. Dunn and Molitoris, will support continuing microscopy research at the IU School of Medicine.

The company provides customized, proprietary microscopy and quantitative analysis services to businesses such as pharmaceutical firms, which need to monitor the activity and toxicity of their research compounds within cells as part of the new drug development process.  While many of INphoton’s techniques were developed at the IU School of Medicine with the support of the Indiana Genomics Initiative, the commercial need and type of approaches to be used have out grown the capacity and the mission of the university investigators.

“To move basic discovery research from the university to a commercial company you have to develop standard operating procedures and reliable models to ask specific questions of commercial interest. What we offer can clearly improve the efficiency and effectiveness of pharmaceutical development and speed bench-to-bedside drug discovery,” said Dr. Molitoris, a cofounder of INphoton, chief of nephrology division and director of the biological microscopy center. Dr. Dunn is an associate professor of medicine and scientific director of the microscopy  center.

For example, in diabetes, a company may want to understand what’s going on with the glomerulus, a part of the kidney’s filtration system, Dr. Molitoris said.

“So INphoton will use the microscopy procedures it has developed and new ones developed under the National Institutes of Health STTR grant to come up with approaches to glomerular disease that can be used in conjunction with  pharmaceutical companies to see if you can alter the course of the disease,” Molitoris said.

Steve Plump, INphoton CEO said he expects several additional NIH STTR grants to be applied for and awarded as imaging techniques are developed and advanced for other internal organs such as the liver.