Medical Devices

Basketball or biomedicine? Indiana’s March Madness schools win at both

What do Purdue University, Indiana University and the University of Notre Dame have in common — besides that they’re Indiana teams playing the 2012 NCAA tournament?

They’re all great schools for medical innovation and have produced noteworthy discoveries the led to successful licensing agreements and life science startup companies.

Not to take the focus away from the Hoosier state regaining some of its basketball gusto, but in recognition of these schools’ other outstanding accomplishments, here are some of the most interesting medical companies to spin out of these three Indiana universities. Feel free to leave others in the comments.



LyoGo — Founded by three Purdue graduate students with an original application in diabetes, this startup specializes in drug-delivery systems for medicines that need to be refrigerated or lyophilized (freeze dried) to be stored. Its first product is an injection system that packages a mixing mechanism for these drugs and their liquid dilutants in a compact delivery system.

Its founders have won seven business plan competitions over the past three years.

Cook Biotech Incorporated — Established in 1995 based on a research team’s discovery of unique properties of porcine small intestinal submucose, the company manufactures several U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved advanced tissue repair products to dress wounds or surgically repair soft tissues.

Medtric Biotech — This wound care startup won the Wake Forest University Schools of Business annual Elevator Competition and the Purdue University Life Science Business Plan Competition last year for its bandage, which contains two active ingredients that heal wounds and kill bacteria by dehydration.

Endocyte — Headquartered at Purdue Research Park and co-founded by Purdue biochemists Philip Low and Chris Leamon, this biopharmaceutical was formed in the early 1990s, went public in 2011 and now employs more than 50 people. The technology develops agents that deliver cancer-killing drugs to over-reactive folate expressions on cancer cells.

Endocyte recently announced that it will submit EU conditional marketing authorization applications for its small molecule therapeutic for ovarian cancer and an accompanying diagnostic in the third quarter of 2012.

Purdue is also home to Purdue Research Park, which houses and supports more than 200 promising companies, including Banyan Biomarkers, which makes blood tests to detect traumatic brain injuries.


ApeX Therapeutics — Using technology developed in Mark Kelley’s lab at the IU School of Medicine, ApeX Therapeutics was formed to develop novel treatments for several cancers and eye diseases. The startup has raised more than $1 million in seed-stage funding

FAST BioMedical (formerly PharmacoPhotonics) — Founded in 2006, this IU Center for Biological Microscopy spinoff is developing a device that measures kidney function for the primary purpose of diagnosing acute kidney failure, although it may have other applications in clinical trial monitoring, drug development and organ harvesting. Having raised more than $12 million, the company is preparing to head into human trials.

Marcadia Biotech — Perhaps one of the university’s greatest success stories is Marcadia, which was acquired by Roche in a 2011 deal worth up to $537 million. Founded in 2006 by chemistry professor Richard DiMarchi, the company is working on a drug that combines the properties of two natural hormones to reduce obesity as well as a new treatment for severe hypoglycemia.

ImmuneWorks — In 2009, this clinical-stage company received orphan drug designation from the FDA for its compound designed to treat autoimmune diseases of the lung by conditioning the body with small doses of a protein called collagen V. The following year, it entered into an agreement with United Therapeutics Corp. subsidiary Lung Rx to develop the drug for treatment of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

Home to the state’s only medical school, IU has upped its efforts in technology transfer over the past several years. Last year, its Research and Technology Corp. put together a handy Faculty Inventor’s Guide to Technology Transfer.

Notre Dame

F3 LLC (pronounced F-cubed) — Based on technology developed by Notre Dame scientist Hsueh-Chia Chang, this startup has created a portable device that uses microfluidic techniques to quickly detect DNA of disease-causing pathogens, toxins and other harmful substances in water, blood or other bodily fluids. Prototypes are being used in an EPA study, but the device also has applications in medical diagnostics and homeland security.

Notre Dame is significantly smaller and has spun out fewer companies, but there’s still plenty of innovative activity going on, particularly in the areas of nanomedicine and nanotechnology. The business accelerator Innovation Park also sits adjacent to campus and houses around 30 companies.

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