UTHSC Research Success Featured in 2008 Better World Report

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A product based on research conducted at UTHSC has been selected by the 2008 Better World Project as one of the top 100 examples from across the globe of how innovation from academic research makes its way to the market.

A product based on research conducted at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) has been selected by the 2008 Better World Project as one of the top 100 examples from across the globe of how innovation from academic research makes its way to the market.

The featured product — a compound called RX100, which is designed to protect the human body when it is exposed to radiation — was developed in 2004 at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center by Gabor Tigyi, M.D., Ph.D., Duane Miller, Ph.D., and Leonard “Rusty” Johnson, Ph.D. Studies have shown that the compound can prevent death if given before or after lethal radiation exposure, and even save life if administered 24 hours or longer after exposure. In addition to boosting the immune system and inhibiting organ failure, RX100 also protects rapidly growing cells, such as those in the bone marrow or the small intestine. Because it protects the lining and preserves the function of the intestine, it can prevent diarrhea and combat bacterial infections.

RxBio, Inc., a biotechnology start-up company headquartered in Johnson City, licensed the patented technology from the University of Tennessee Research Foundation (UTRF) and continues to study and do further development on RX100. Applications of the substance abound in fields where radiation exposure is possible or even necessary, including health care and military or defense scenarios. RxBio is led by Dr. W. Shannon McCool, a pharmacy graduate of UTHSC and a seasoned entrepreneur with extensive experience in the pharmaceutical industry.

“RX100 is just one example of successful product ideas that are emerging from UTHSC and the university as a whole,” said Hershel P. Wall, M.D., UTHSC Chancellor. “Working with companies to license and further develop these products is consistent with our mission to improve human health for Tennesseans, as well as on a global scale.”

The Better World Project was launched by the Association of University Technology Managers in 2005 to increase public understanding of how academic research and technology transfer benefit individuals and communities around the world. Technology transfer is the process that takes a discovery made in a laboratory and turns it into a product that makes its way to the marketplace. UTRF harvests the discoveries and inventions of UT’s faculty and staff and seeks commercial outlets for those inventions. UT was the only educational institution in Tennessee that was highlighted in the project this year. The project’s publication is being distributed to members of the U.S. Congress, state officials and leaders of Fortune 500 companies. A mention of UT’s participation in cellulosic ethanol development was also included in the publication.

“Many people are unaware of the breadth of research conducted at the university and the positive impact of that research on society,” said Fred Tompkins, president of UTRF. “These discoveries not only can save lives, but they also contribute to a stronger economy by creating new jobs in our local community.”