Inventor Spotlight - Newell Washburn
Newell is an Assistant Professor in the Departments of Chemistry and Biomedical Engineering. He is developing a new class of polymer therapeutics to treat a broad range of inflammatory conditions. Polymer therapeutics are an emerging class of drug that conjugates a known therapeutic agent to a polymer in order to provide targeted delivery. The technology developed in Prof. Washburn’s lab at CMU uses polymer conjugation to localize the effects of antibody inhibitors of tumor necrosis factor- a protein known as the central mediator of inflammation. These antibodies form the basis for a $13bln sector of the biotechnology industry, but significant safety concerns have been raised because of their powerful immunosuppressive effects. By localizing the delivery of TNF-ainhibitors, it could be possible to treat psoriasis, burns, chronic wounds, and other conditions characterized by intense, local inflammation without many of the side-effects observed through standard administering of the unconjugated drug.
Washburn earned his undergraduate degree in Chemistry at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and his PhD in Chemistry at the University of California (Berkeley). Following post-doctoral work at the University of Minnesota (Twin Cities), he worked at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, becoming the leader of the Biomaterials Group in the Polymers Division. In 2004, he moved to CMU as Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Biomedical Engineering and began work on cytokine-neutralizing gels, technology that CMU is patenting and that is also the basis for his spin-off Washburn Therapeutics. Washburn recently was awarded a Phase I SBIR grant from the National Institutes of Health and will be initiating clinical trials of their lead compounds in the coming year.
More information:Preliminary studies on cytokine-neutralizing gels