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Soluble Tight Junction Membrane Proteins

ID: 2017-072 Tight junctions between membranes in the human body are responsible for limiting access through tissues to organs the rest of the interior of the body for promising therapies.

Principal Investigator: Dario Mizrachi

The proteins responsible for tight junctions (membrane proteins) are responsible for guarding these blood-tissue barriers. For example there are no therapeutic means to transiently open the blood- brain barrier in order to deliver drugs or nutrients. This results in an inefficient way to treat certain maladies. For example brain tumors are almost exclusively candidates for surgery. An alternative would be to transiently lower the barrier and deliver a number of existing anti-tumor treatments. In problematic pregnancies this technology could also be used to provide the baby with more nutrients. This technology can also apply to the opposite case where a barrier needs to be strengthened. This could be the case of gastrointestinal disorders or skin abnormalities due to ageing. Medically speaking there is no reagent to transiently open tight junctions, and no reagent to strengthen tight junctions. This invention combines a soluble protein with the tight junction membrane protein. This chimera includes the cis and trans interactions that exist in the native tight junctions as well as the spatial and structural characteristics of the domains responsible for those interactions.

In order for reagents to exert there therapeutic effects, they have to cross the biological membranes into the systemic circulation and reach the site of desired activity. In this invention the developer has shown the ability to use his protein based drug to temporarily open or close tightly these membrane barriers.

About the Market:
Examples of applications for this technology include: 1. Tissue engineering designs to establish organs (e.g. skin graft) that have strong tight junctions that can be more resistant to infection. 2. Cosmetics creams (e.g. anti-ageing). Tight junction proteins can protect the skin from dehydration and restore some of the properties lost with ageing. 3. Temporary modification of tight junctions for drug delivery.

For more information, contact Mike Alder (801-422-3049)

Links and Resources

  1. One Page Summary PDF
  2. Inventor Webpage - Dario Mizrachi
  3. Mizrachi Lab Webpage
  4. BYU Radio Episode