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Science in Seconds: Navigating the Brain with 3-D Print-out

September 20, 2017 – Elizabeth Caron – UConn Communications

Go inside microbiome startup Shoreline Biome in the latest episode of Inside UConn TIP

Research Award Roundup September 2017

September 14, 2017 – Chris DeFrancesco – School of Medicine and Dental Medicine

Guided by Ephraim Trakhtenberg, postdoctoral fellow Juhwan Kim demonstrates microscope-assisted surgery to master's student Muhammad Sajid (background), undergrad Kathleen Renna, and M.D.-Ph.D. student Bruce Rheaume. (Photo by Ethan Giorgetti)

Guided by Ephraim Trakhtenberg, postdoctoral fellow Juhwan Kim demonstrates microscope-assisted surgery to master’s student Muhammad Sajid (background), undergrad Kathleen Renna, and M.D.-Ph.D. student Bruce Rheaume. (Photo by Ethan Giorgetti)

Ephraim Trakhtenberg, assistant professor of neuroscience, won an Interstellar Initiative honor from the New York Academy of Sciences and the Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development. Most recently he was awarded “First Place – Outstanding Early Career Investigator Team Presentation in Neurocience.” In March he and collaborator Kumiko Hayashi of Tohoku University in Japan won first place for a research solution proposal in the field of neuroscience. Now only in his second year on the UConn Health faculty, Trakhtenberg already has a research grant by the BrightFocus Foundation and a grant from the Connecticut Institute for the Brain and Cognitive Sciences, in collaboration with Steven Crocker, associate professor of neuroscience, to his credit.He mentors undergraduates, medical students, master’s students, Ph.D. students, and postdoctoral fellows in his lab, which focuses on regeneration of central nervous system circuits that have been damaged.

Dr. Augustus Mazzocca, director of the UConn Musculoskeletal Institute, has been presented with the 2017 Champion of Yes Prestigious Excellence in Medicine Award by the Arthritis Foundation.

A study of a surgical technique to restore shoulder joint stability known as the “J-bone graft” conducted at UConn Health under the leadership of then sports medicine research fellow Dr. Leo Pauzenberger has been honored by the world’s largest arthroscopy society. The Society for Arthroscopy and Joint Surgery presented its biannual Medi Award for exceptional research on restoration of joint function to Pauzenberger at its annual congress in Munich earlier this month. Collaborating with UConn Health scientists during his time as a sports medicine research fellow with Mozzacca in 2015 and 2016, Pauzenberger was lead author of the article, which was published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine.

Dr. Ivo Kalajzic, an associate professor of reconstructive sciences, is principal investigator of a federal research grant that focuses on understanding the biological processes involved in mending broken bones (fractures). He is studying the role of the Notch signaling pathway in an effort to identify components that could be manipulated to accelerate fracture healing. Kalajzic’s lab will further explore the role of Notch receptors in fracture repair.

UConn spin-off gets stem cell patent for autoimmune diseases

September 13, 2017

John Stearns

ImStem Biotechnology Inc. and the University of Connecticut today announced that a joint patent was recently issued for human embryonic stem cell technology being used by ImStem to develop therapies for autoimmune diseases, with an initial focus on Multiple Sclerosis.

The company, spun out of the UConn Stem Cell Core Lab, was formed to commercialize the technologies developed by Dr. Ren He Xu, the former director of the UConn Stem Cell Core, and his then postdoc, Dr. Xiaofang Wang. Wang now leads the company as its chief technology officer with CEO Dr. Michael Men.

In 2010, Xu was one of few researchers to derive new stem cell lines when he announced that four UConn lines had been approved for use in federally funded research and added to the National Stem Cell Registry by the National Institutes of Health, according UConn. Both ImStem and its enabling research had been funded by the state of Connecticut Stem Cell Grant program.

Today, ImStem operates through private capital raised by its founders and is located at the UConn Technology Incubation Program (TIP) in Farmington.

While ImStem has proven its T-MSC cell therapy protects mice from MS, it is currently working with the FDA on necessary clearances to begin clinical trials next year and has completed FDA required experiments. ImStem believes its technology might address diseases beyond MS, including the company’s next target, Inflammatory Bowel Disease.

UConn Health’s New 3-D Printed Model Allows Brain Surgeons to Practice

Dr. Charan K. Singh, right, holds a 3-D printed model of arteries and a catheter while speaking with Dr. Clifford Yang at UConn Health. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

Dr. Charan K. Singh, right, holds a 3-D printed model of arteries and a catheter while speaking with Dr. Clifford Yang at UConn Health. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

The first time a young surgeon threads a wire through a stroke victim’s chest up through their neck and fishes a blood clot out of their brain may be one of the most harrowing moments in her career. Now, a UConn Health radiologist and a medical physicist have made it easier for her to get some practice first. The team made a life-size model of the arteries that wire must pass through, using brain scans and a 3-D printer. They will make the pattern freely available to any doctor who requests it.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved mechanical thrombectomy – using a wire to pull clots out of the brains of stroke victims – in 2012. A trap at the end of the wire opens like a little snare that captures the clot, which is then dragged out of the patient.

A lot can go wrong on that journey. One of the most dangerous complications is also one of the most likely: another clot can be accidentally knocked loose from the wall of the arteries and get stuck in the heart, the lungs, or elsewhere in the brain. Computer simulations of the procedure exist, but they are prohibitively expensive for many medical schools to purchase. Interventional radiologists and neurosurgeons need to train extensively before they work on a real person.

UConn Health cardiac radiologist Dr. Clifford Yang and medical physicist intern David Brotman knew they could help young doctors feel more comfortable with the mechanics.

“What matters is the ability of the doctor to be confident in guiding the wire,” says Brotman. He and Yang found a brain scan of a patient with typical blood vessel structure and used the scan to design a 3-D model of the blood vessels. Finding a good scan was easy: UConn Health has an immense library from computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of patients. The tough part was converting the data into something a 3-D printer could interpret. Brotman and Yang found and modified publicly available software to do that, and after a couple months of tweaking, they found they could print a true-to-life teaching model of the brain’s major arteries for about $14.

Technically called a brain perfusion phantom, the model is surprisingly delicate. Holding it in your hand brings home just how small the arteries are, even in an adult man. The top arch of the aorta in the chest, big enough to slide an adult’s pinky finger through, connects to the carotid in the neck and then on to the Circle of Willis in the brain, which is no thicker than a fat piece of yarn. The circle has six branches. Each branch supplies blood to one-sixth of the brain. It is in these branches that clots are most likely to get stuck and cause serious damage.

“We are using this model to teach students,” says UConn Health interventional radiologist Dr. Charan Singh. “Obviously, it won’t feel like the human body. But it will improve their knowledge of anatomy, and give them basic technique on how to move the catheter.”

Singh demonstrates how a slight twist can violently flip the catheter, which is dangerous. It could knock off new clots into the bloodstream. The model isn’t perfect – there are several different ways a person’s aorta can be shaped, and the other veins can vary too. But students can get good practice with it, Singh says.

Dr. Ketan Bulsara, UConn’s chief of neurosurgery, also likes the technology. He cautions that individual anatomy varies too much for it to be used as the only training tool to learn mechanical thrombectomy, but says that it could potentially be used to visualize other conditions, such as brain tumors. Surgery for brain tumors has significant lead time, and modeling the tumor in advance could personalize and improve patient care.

Says Bulsara, “Creating these high-level 3-D models customized for individual patients has the potential to significantly improve outcomes and reduce operative times by enhancing surgical planning.”

Teaching Robots to Think

September 13, 2017 – Colin Poitras – UConn Communications

Ashwin Dani, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, demonstrates how the robot can be given a simple task which can be repeated. Sept. 7, 2017. (Sean Flynn/UConn Photo)

Ashwin Dani, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, demonstrates how the robot can be given a simple task which can be repeated. Sept. 7, 2017. (Sean Flynn/UConn Photo)

In a research building in the heart of UConn’s Storrs campus, assistant professor Ashwin Dani is teaching a life-size industrial robot how to think.

Here, on a recent day inside the University’s Robotics and Controls Lab, Dani and a small team of graduate students are showing the humanoid bot how to assemble a simple desk drawer.

The “eyes” on the robot’s face screen look on as two students build the wooden drawer, reaching for different tools on a tabletop as they work together to complete the task.

The robot may not appear intently engaged. But it isn’t missing a thing – or at least that’s what the scientists hope. For inside the robot’s circuitry, its processors are capturing and cataloging all of the humans’ movements through an advanced camera lens and motion sensors embedded into his metallic frame.
Ashwin Dani, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, is developing algorithms and software for robotic manipulation, to improve robots’ interaction with humans. (Sean Flynn/UConn Photo)
Ashwin Dani, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, is developing algorithms and software for robotic manipulation, to improve robots’ interaction with humans. (Sean Flynn/UConn Photo)

Ultimately, the UConn scientists hope to develop software that will teach industrial robots how to use their sensory inputs to quickly “learn” the various steps for a manufacturing task – such as assembling a drawer or a circuit board – simply by watching their human counterparts do it first.

“We’re trying to move toward human intelligence,” says Dani, the lab’s director and a faculty member in the School of Engineering. “We’re still far from what we want to achieve, but we’re definitely making robots smarter.”

To further enhance robotic intelligence, the UConn team is also working on a series of complex algorithms that will serve as an artificial neural network for the machines, helping robots apply what they see and learn so they can one day assist humans at their jobs, such as assembling pieces of furniture or installing parts on a factory floor. If the process works as intended, these bots, in time, will know an assembly sequence so well, they will be able to anticipate their human partner’s needs and pick up the right tools without being asked – even if the tools are not in the same location as they were when the robots were trained.

This kind of futuristic human-robot interaction – called collaborative robotics – is transforming manufacturing. Industrial robots like the one in Dani’s lab already exist. Although currently, engineers must write intricate computer code for all of the robot’s individual movements or manually adjust the robot’s limbs at each step in a process to program it to perform. Teaching industrial robots to learn manufacturing techniques simply by observing could reduce to minutes a process that currently can take engineers days.
From left back row, Ph.D. students Iman Salehi, Harish Ravichandar, Kyle Hunte, Gang Yao, and seated, Ashwin Dani, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering. (Sean Flynn/UConn Photo)
From left back row, Ph.D. students Iman Salehi, Harish Ravichandar, Kyle Hunte, Gang Yao, and seated, Ashwin Dani, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering. (Sean Flynn/UConn Photo)

“Here at UConn, we’re developing algorithms that are designed to make robot programming easier and more adaptable,” says Dani. “We are essentially building software that allows a robot to watch these different steps and, through the algorithms we’ve developed, predict what will happen next. If the robot sees the first two or three steps, it can tell us what the next 10 steps are. At that point, it’s basically thinking on its own.”

In recognition of this transformative research, UConn’s Robotics and Controls Lab was recently chosen as one of 40 academic or academic-affiliated research labs supporting the U.S. government’s newly created Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing Institute or ARM. One of the collaborative’s primary goals is to advance robotics and artificial intelligence to maintain American manufacturing competitiveness in the global economy.

“There is a huge need for collaborative robotics in industry,” says Dani. “With advances in artificial intelligence, lots of major companies like United Technologies, Boeing, BMW, and many small and mid-size manufacturers, are moving in this direction.”

The United Technologies Research Center, UTC Aerospace Systems, and ABB US Corporate Research – a leading international supplier of industrial robots and robot software – are also representing Connecticut as part of the new ARM Institute. The institute is led by American Robotics Inc., a nonprofit associated with Carnegie Mellon University.

Connecticut’s and UConn’s contribution to the initiative will be targeted toward advancing robotics in the aerospace and shipbuilding industries, where intelligent, adaptable robots are more in demand because of the industries’ specialized needs.

Joining Dani on the ARM project are UConn Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor Krishna Pattipati, the University’s UTC Professor in Systems Engineering and an expert in smart manufacturing; and assistant professor Liang Zhang, an expert in production systems engineering.

“Robotics, with wide-ranging applications in manufacturing and defense, is a relatively new thrust area for the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering,” says Rajeev Bansal, professor and head of UConn’s electrical and computer engineering department. “Interestingly, our first two faculty hires in the field received their doctorates in mechanical engineering, reflecting the interdisciplinary nature of robotics. With the establishment of the new national Advanced Robotics Manufacturing Institute, both UConn and the ECE department are poised to play a leadership role in this exciting field.”

The aerospace, automotive, and electronics industries are expected to represent 75 percent of all robots used in the country by 2025. One of the goals of the ARM initiative is to increase small manufacturers’ use of robots by 500 percent.

Industrial robots have come a long way since they were first introduced, says Dani, who has worked with some of the country’s leading researchers in learning and adoptive control, and robotics at the University of Florida (Warren Dixon) and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (Seth Hutchinson and Soon-Jo Chung). Many of the first factory robots were blind, rudimentary machines that were kept in cages and considered a potential danger to workers as their powerful hydraulic arms whipped back and forth on the assembly line.

Today’s advanced industrial robots are designed to be human-friendly. High-end cameras and elaborate motion sensors allow these robots to “see” and “sense” movement in their environment. Some manufacturers, like Boeing and BMW, already have robots and humans working side-by-side.

Of course, one of the biggest concerns within collaborative robotics is safety.

In response to those concerns, Dani’s team is developing algorithms that will allow industrial robots to quickly process what they see and adjust their movements accordingly when unexpected obstacles – like a human hand – get in their way.

“Traditional robots were very heavy, moved very fast, and were very dangerous,” says Dani. “They were made to do a very specific task, like pick up an object and move it from here to there. But with recent advances in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and improvements in cameras and sensors, working in close proximity with robots is becoming more and more possible.”

Dani acknowledges the obstacles in his field are formidable. Even with advanced optics, smart industrial robots need to be taught how to distinguish a metal rod from a flexible piece of wiring, and to understand the different physics inherent in each.

Movements that humans take for granted are huge engineering challenges in Dani’s lab. For instance: Inserting a metal rod into a pre-drilled hole is relatively easy. Knowing how to pick up a flexible cable and plug it into a receptacle is another challenge altogether. If the robot grabs the cable too far away from the plug, it will likely flex and bend. Even if the robot grabs the cable properly, it must not only bring the plug to the receptacle but also make sure the plug is oriented properly so it matches the receptacle precisely.

“Perception is always a challenging problem in robotics,” says Dani. “In artificial intelligence, we are essentially teaching the robot to process the different physical phenomena it observes, make sense out of what it sees, and then make the appropriate response.”

Research in UConn’s Robotics and Controls Lab is supported by funding from the U.S. Department of Defense and the UTC Institute of Advanced Systems Engineering. More detailed information about this research being conducted at UConn, including peer-reviewed article citations documenting the research, can be found here. Dani and graduate student Harish Ravichandar also have two patents pending on aspects of this research: “Early Prediction of an Intention of a User’s Actions,” Serial #15/659,827, and “Skill Transfer From a Person to a Robot,” Serial #15/659,881.

UConn Lab Identifies Way to Reduce Salmonella Outbreaks in Mangoes

September 11, 2017 – Elaina Hancock – UConn Communications

The next time you eat a piece of fruit, take a moment to appreciate the journey it took to you. Not only was the fruit picked, it was packaged and transported — all with protocols in place to avoid picking up foodborne pathogens.

When the process fails, contamination results and illness can occur, as was the recent situation with mangoes and Salmonella.

To reduce the chance of contamination in that delicate fruit, a team in one University of Connecticut lab recently processed 4,000 mangoes and water samples to test the efficacy of three disinfectants commonly used by the industry to avoid contamination.

“When I saw the results, I didn’t believe it. So we re-ran the test ten times.”
— Mary Anne Amalaradjou

To the utter surprise of researcher Mary Anne Amalaradjou, they found an unlikely candidate was extremely effective: chlorine. “When I saw the results, I didn’t believe it. So we re-ran the test ten times,” says the assistant professor in the Department of Animal Science.

Amalaradjou will present her findings at a meeting of the National Mango Board.

Salmonella is a frequent culprit for outbreaks in mangoes because it makes its way into the water used to wash the fruit in processing plants. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Salmonella leads to approximately 1.2 million cases of Salmonellosis each year in the United States and around 23,000 hospitalizations and 450 deaths.

“We had several outbreaks of people getting sick. The worrying part was the illnesses were not from cut mangoes, these were from mangoes they bought whole,” says Amalaradjou, whose work focuses on food safety and in finding new approaches to control or prevent foodborne illnesses.

In mango processing plants, the wash water is housed in gigantic tanks and once the water is contaminated, the bacteria are able to attach to the fruit’s skin and then enter the fruit’s pulp. Once bacteria make their way into the fruit, no amount of washing can remove them. With so many mangoes washed at once, the number of contaminated mangoes can be numerous, potentially causing many cases of Salmonellosis.

Recognizing the danger, the Center for Produce Safety and the National Mango Board funded Amalaradjou’s study. After taking on the project, Amalaradjou traveled to a mango processing plant to see the source of the contamination, the big wash water tanks, for herself in order to learn the processes so she could adapt them to a smaller-scale laboratory set up.

Amalaradjou was surprised by the results because chlorine is not very effective in the wash step for most produce. For one reason or another, from lettuce, to tomatoes to apples, chlorine simply doesn’t reliably kill Salmonella.

With mangoes, Amalaradjou found, chlorine cleaned the wash water and also helped prevent cross-contamination by cleaning the mangoes themselves.
Mangoes in Mary Anne Amalardjou’s lab at UConn.
Mangoes in Mary Anne Amalardjou’s lab at UConn.

One of the other challenges the research group had to tackle was not only effective Salmonella killing, but doing so with affordable and easily implementable measures on a large scale. Because chlorine is already used in the wash water, all that the processing plants need to do is to monitor the levels frequently to keep it at an effective concentration.

After this study and processing thousands of mangos, Amalaradjou says she still loves the fruit and has plans to study other bacteria that can potentially contaminate them.

“Listeria is another area of concern, we plan to study this next. One of the take-away lessons from this project was that not all produce will respond the same way to the same disinfectant.”

UConn Spin Out Issued Stem Cell Patent for Autoimmune Disease

Rita Zangari

Farmington, Conn. – September 12, 2017 – ImStem Biotechnology, Inc. and the University of Connecticut today announced that a joint patent was recently issued for human embryonic stem cells derived mesenchymal stem cells “hES-T-MSC” or “T-MSC” and the method of producing the stem cells.

The patented technology is being used by ImStem to develop therapies for autoimmune diseases with an initial focus on Multiple Sclerosis (MS).  The company, a spin out of the UConn Stem Cell Core Lab, was formed to utilize and commercialize the technologies developed by Dr. Ren He Xu, the former director of the UConn Stem Cell Core, and his then postdoc Dr. Xiaofang Wang.  Dr. Wang now leads the company as its chief technology officer with CEO Dr. Michael Men, M.D.

In 2010,  Xu was one of few researchers to derive new stem cell lines when he announced that four University of Connecticut lines had been approved for use in federally funded research and added to the National Stem Cell Registry by the National Institutes of Health. Both ImStem and its enabling research had been funded by the State of Connecticut Stem Cell Grant program.

Today, ImStem operates through private capital raised by its founders and is located at the UConn Technology Incubation Program (TIP) in Farmington.

According to Wang, ImStem aims to address the needs of the 450,000 patients in the United States and approximately 2.5 million people around the world that have MS. About 200 new cases are diagnosed each week in the United States with no cures currently available.

“Current therapies temporarily treat MS symptoms, but come with severe side effects and high costs –$60K per year,” Wang said. “ImStem’s technology can offer strong immunosuppression and tissue regeneration with no side effects. It is more robust than other adult stem cell therapies.

While ImStem has proven that their T-MSC cell therapy protects mice from MS (EAE Model), they are currently working with the FDA on necessary clearances to begin clinical trials next year and have completed FDA required experiments.

“None of this would have been possible without the vision and support of the state of Connecticut and UConn,” said CEO Michael Men.  “As a physician and business person, I am naturally pleased to be part of the ImStem team, but without visionary partners like CT Innovations, UConn and Connecticut’s elected officials, the work of our company would not have progressed.”

ImStem continues to collaborate with UConn researcher’s including Dr. Joel Pachter from the Department of Cell Biology and Dr. Liisa Kuhn from the Center for Regenerative Medicine and Skeletal Development.

“That is one of the unique benefits offered by TIP,” said UConn Vice President for Research, Dr. Radenka Maric. “Not only do our TIP startups benefit from use of the unique R&D resources that can only be found at a research institution like UConn, but they have the opportunity to collaborate with leading scientific experts, business advisors, and top student talent to help ensure their success.”

According to TIP’s Executive Director, Dr. Mostafa Analoui, the program has a proven track record of successfully accelerating the growth of high-potential technology startups.

“As the only university-based technology business incubator in the state, TIP has helped over 90 companies that have raised $54 million in grants and $135 million in equity and debt since 2004,” Analoui said. “We are committed to helping Connecticut companies grow and training the next generation of scientists and entrepreneurs for the state.”

ImStem believes that their technology might be able to address a variety of diseases beyond MS, including the company’s next target, Inflammatory Bowel Disease.

UConn TIP startup Azitra closes $2.9M Series A for microbiome work

Published on Fierce Biotech / April 5, 2017

Ben Adams

Azitra has also received funding from the NIH and Peter Thiel’s Breakout Labs.

Preclinical company Azitra has raised a small bag of cash in its Series A round as it looks to further its work using the skin’s own microbiome for new treatments in dermatology and skin infections.

The three-year-old Farmington, Connecticut-based biotech today closed a $2.9 million venture round led by Bios Partners, which brings its total amount of outside funding to $3.75 million.

Previous seed funding sources include Peter Thiel’s Breakout Labs program that supports startups, alongside other nondilutive grants, including from the National Institutes of Health.

Azitra’s lead candidate, AZT-01, is a recombinant strain of a safe skin bacterium that secretes therapeutic proteins locally into the skin.

The big idea is that these bacteria, when applied topically on the skin, can colonize the skin and restore the microbiome, all the while treating the skin condition with therapeutic proteins.

Azitra says that the funding will allow it to push on with work for its platform across a variety of skin conditions, including eczema, atopic dermatitis, MRSA, rare genetic skin diseases and cosmetic applications.

“The current approach of only addressing a disease’s symptoms alone is ineffective, and the microbiome is a nascent area of ground-breaking science that has enormous potential,” said Azitra co-founder Travis Whitfill.

“That’s why we were passionate about launching a commercial organization that harnesses the power of the skin’s own microbiome to develop a new kind of dermatology treatment. Such treatments are potentially safer, more highly targeted, and work better with fewer side effects than what’s currently available for often intractable conditions.”

The closing of its Series A comes on the same day that another microbiome biotech, Finch Therapeutics, penned a new deal with Takeda for research on FIN-524, a microbial cocktail for inflammatory bowel disease.

UCONN Research Innovation Newsletter – April

Published on The Hartford Courant / April 19th, 2017

Stephen Singer

The University of Connecticut is claiming bragging rights for significantly boosting investment in technology startup businesses fostered at its business incubation program.

Nearly three dozen companies, including a vaccine immunotherapy firm and a business developing a therapy to restore hearing drew nearly $40 million in investments last year, UConn said. That’s more than double the $14.6 million in investments in 2015 and up from more than $24 million, the previous record set in 2014, the university said.

“It’s a good return on state investment,” Jeff Seemann, vice president for research at UConn, said Tuesday. “The return on investment is growing and substantial.”

The growth follows state support of $20 million to double UConn’s capacity for business incubators, he said.

The nearly $40 million in investments represents a 63 percent return on the state investment of $20 million two years ago and $4.5 million in grants from foundations and other sources.

UConn’s Technology Incubation Program was established in 2004 to accelerate the growth of technology startups that are connected to the university. State officials, using the state venture capital firm Connecticut Innovations, and other incentives, are trying to promote growth in bioscience, software design and other technology businesses to create more high-paying jobs.

Connecticut is struggling to replace high-paying manufacturing jobs that increasingly have been replaced by less well-paying work.

The business incubator housed 33 companies at the end of last year, which has increased to 37 now, with another four under review, said Mostafa Analoui, executive director of venture development at UConn.

Businesses typically are offered a three-year contract, which is enough time for software companies, though drug development businesses may require more time, he said.

CaroGen Corp., a vaccine immunotherapy company, is benefiting from UConn’s business incubator. It has raised $2 million from investors and is trying to raise $10 million this year, said Chief Executive Officer Bijan Almassian.

Immunotherapies the company is developing have applications in infectious diseases and cancer, he said. They could treat chronic infections related to hepatitis B and immunotherapies being developed in collaboration with UConn professors could be used to treat colon cancer.

For CaroGen, which employs 10 workers, advantages of working in UConn’s business incubator include collaboration with faculty and access to costly equipment such as centrifuge microscopes that CaroGen could not afford on its own.

CaroGen has been at UConn’s business incubator for more than two years and Almassian said he hopes that with more funding the company can move to a larger space.