[From CASE Reports, Vol. 13, No. 1, 1998]


ADVANCES IN SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
HIGHLIGHT 1997

Connecticut boasts a long and exceptionally illustrious record of achievement in the fields of scientific and technological inquiry and innovation. In keeping with that tradition, many Connecticut-based companies announced important new products and technological breakthroughs during 1997; in the article that follows, CASE Reports highlights several of the many success stories from the state's scientific and industrial communities.

Praxair's Coherent Jet Technology Benefits Steel Industry

Danbury-based Praxair, Inc. has developed a new oxygen injection system to lower costs and improve productivity of electric arc furnace operations in the steel industry. The company's new Coherent Jet(TM) Technology,* introduced in late 1997, provides a safe, easy-to-operate method for lancing/decarburization, post combustion, and burner operation in a single, integrated system.

The new system, made possible by the invention of a new process and injector nozzle, delivers a three- to four-foot jet of oxygen at supersonic speeds into the molten steel bath. The specialized nozzle keeps the jet of oxygen "coherent" (retaining its original diameter and velocity), delivering precise amounts of oxygen to the bath with less cavity formation and splash than that produced by more traditional methods.

*patents pending and applied for

Once the coherent jet of oxygen produced by the fixed, wall-mounted nozzle impinges on the steel bath, the concentrated momentum of the oxygen beam is dissipated in the steel as fine bubbles, providing deep penetration and effective slag-metal mixing. The nozzle also operates as a conventional sidewall burner to melt scrap, and as a supplemental oxygen source for post-combustion-operations which improve furnace productivity and decrease power consumption.

Also in 1997, the company announced an advance in food processing: a new technology that uses carbon dioxide to significantly extend the shelf life of cottage cheese and other dairy foods. The new process can extend the shelf life of such products by at least 100% without affecting taste and texture, reduce the need for artificial preservatives, and enable dairies to ship their products greater distances. With the new Praxair process, which grew out of research conducted at Cornell University, carbon dioxide is injected into dairy products at multiple points during processing. The gas inhibits the growth of bacteria, yeasts and molds that can cause such foods to spoil; minimizes curdling; and displaces oxygen, which also contributes to spoilage.

T3I Announces New Fluid Decontamination System

Triton Thalassic Technologies, Inc. (T3I), with headquarters and manufacturing operations in Ridgefield, has developed and patented a fluid treatment system that can reduce and control bacterial contamination in a range of clear and opaque fluids using only light energy. During 1997, the company successfully conducted three demonstrations of its system in an automotive Powertrain plant. The new system eliminates or greatly reduces the need for chemical biocides, resulting in a healthier workplace environment, improved fluid and water treatment with less use of environmentally hazardous chemicals, and reduced operating costs for manufacturers. T3I's system promises an estimated payback on the manufacturer's capital expenditure within approximately two years of installation.

   

 

T3I is applying its new technology first to the contaminated metal removal fluids used in the automotive, aerospace and farm/construction equipment industries. Because of the opacity and other characteristics of these fluids, no other ultraviolet treatment system has been used successfully to decontaminate them. While conventional chemical biocide treatment can reduce bacteria levels in these fluids, it has many drawbacks, including increased health risks for exposed workers.

The patented technology uses a combination of high energy monochromatic ultraviolet (UV) light and an application-specific fluid flow dynamic to achieve an efficient and highly effective germicidal treatment. These capabilities also allow for improved performance compared to conventional UV systems when the technology is applied to clearer fluids and water treatment. The system's higher power, selectable monochromatic light output, combined with adjustable flow dy-namics and source geometry, can be applied to contaminated metalworking fluids (cutting oils) in the automotive and aerospace industries; process water in the food and paper industries; municipal and industrial waste-water and potable water treatment; aquaculture farms; commercial shipping ballast water exchange; and marine fouling of industrial water intakes and cooling towers. T3I also intends to apply this technology to the treatment and control of airborne pathogen contamination (tuberculosis, Legionella, etc.) of hospital and public building air ducts and circulation systems.

T3I's monochromatic, high energy excimer light source, optimized to treat bacteria in opaque fluids. The spectral irradiance (watts/nm) of these monochromatic sources exceeds that available from all other commercial sources. (Photo: T3I) 

Genaissance Develops 'Genthologys'

Many diseases result from abnormalities in specific genes: a gene may be overexpressed, or its product (RNA or protein) may be altered so as to malfunction. Therapeutic drugs active against such diseases may bind to the gene itself to control its expression, or may bind to the mutant gene product to interfere with its activity. The different forms of a given gene that exist in the population are called isogenes, one or another isogene being the basis for a particular disease.

Genaissance Pharmaceuticals is a New Haven pharmacogenomics company that develops personalized medicines through the discovery, characterization, and isolation of isogenes. The company exploits isogene variation to develop novel therapeutic targets, such as genes for receptors, enzymes, and membrane channels; to screen for the corresponding lead compounds during drug development; and to develop more efficacious drugs for traditional targets that have existing therapies. The isogene information also is used to guide prescription to those individuals who will respond best, and to measure response to therapy.

The development of personalized medicines depends on the successful isolation and characterization of all the isogenes of a drug target that exist in a population. Genaissance has developed proprietary methods for harvesting these isogenes in collections, known as Genthologys(TM). Genthology targets are cloned isogenes that are used for screening and prioritizing lead compounds and for refining the products of rational drug design. The company is currently creating Genthologys for genes critical to the treatment of cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Genthologys are created using the proprietary pClasper vector system developed in the Yale laboratory of CASE member Frank Ruddle, chairman of the Genaissance Scientific Advisory Board. By a proprietary method called Targeted In Vivo Cloning (TIVC), pClasper specifically demarcates and isolates all isogenes of a given target gene from pools of native, uncloned genomic DNA derived from all members of the population. TIVC permits the accurate and efficient separation of the target isogenes present in the population pool from the remainder of the constituent genomes without the need for creating individual genomic libraries from each individual. Each Genthology target contains the entire gene of interest as an expressable haplotype of the inherent variation.

Once a Genthology containing all isogenes of a specific target has been generated and analyzed for the type and frequency of variation present in the population, the variation is correlated with a disease phenotype. The Genthology target then is characterized as protein, DNA, or RNA. If the isogene is expressed, the protein is used in conventional screening assays based on binding or proximity to compounds. Using the isogene as DNA, gene expression screens are performed on small organic molecule libraries; as RNA, screening is performed using anti-sense techniques. -- Martha Sherman, Managing Editor


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