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One of the University of Utah’s greatest assets are its faculty and researchers. Not only do we boast leading experts in research and education, but we also have excellent clinicians who both care for patients and work to find solutions to today’s healthcare challenges.

While both types of faculty members are great alone, they impact more people when they collaborate together. Venkata “Kash” Yellepeddi, an associate professor of pediatrics, focuses on translational research and hopes to serve as a bridge between the two areas.

“We have excellent basic scientists, and we have the best clinical facilities and clinicians, and we have so many patients,” Yellepeddi said. “I think by connecting these two groups with the proper translational methodology, we can bring transformative change in healthcare and improve the health of many millions of people.”

Yellepeddi uses clinical data to develop new dosing regimens for special populations, like children, while also developing new drug delivery systems or formulations to decrease the adverse effects of certain drugs. His expertise and excitement for translational research has made him an excellent collaborator at the U.

Yellepeddi makes it a priority to attend the Department of Pediatrics and School of Medicine’s weekly research in progress meetings to not just listen but also to search for new research opportunities. He also regularly peruses the U’s “Find a Researcher” portal that he refers to as “Tinder for researchers.” The resource allows faculty to upload their abstracts and connect with others based on what they are researching.

I think by connecting these two groups with the proper translational methodology, we can bring transformative change in healthcare and improve the health of many millions of people.

“I'm in a very nice niche area where I can reach out to researchers and say, ‘Hey, you’ve researched this new drug for this disease, that's awesome. But do you know how to take it to the next level?’” Yellepeddi said.

Working with these collaborators, Yellepeddi has identified a drug used for anti-hypertensive activity that works against anxiety as a nasal spray and worked with another professor to help determine the side effects of a new molecule she developed.

Yellepeddi is currently working with Nancy Murphy, a U professor of pediatrics and chief of the division of pediatric complex care, to develop a better method for treating sialorrhea, a condition that causes excessive salivation and is a significant health issue for children with neurological disorders. The team is taking an eye drop that is used off-label to treat sialorrhea and determining the proper dosage and dosing form.

“For this project, Dr. Murphy reached out to another faculty member to help solve this problem. That person then reached out to me recognizing that my research and expertise in developing dosage forms and then dosing them appropriately could be valuable for the project,” Yellepeddi said. 

While the eye drop has been useful in managing sialorrhea, it also has drawbacks like needing frequent application, lacking dosing guidelines and the potential for fatal overdose, which is where Yellepeddi is able to help. The solution he came up with is a gel formulation of the eye drop.

The gel solves many of the drawbacks of the eye drop. For example, the eye drop needed to be administered under the tongue up to six times a day, but the gel sticks in the mouth longer, reducing the need for frequent reapplication.

Yellepeddi said as soon as he realized his research had potential to be a real, useful dosage form, he reached out to the Technology Licensing Office to start the process of protecting the idea and developing it into a marketable product. Once he reached out, the office started determining the correct patenting, development and commercialization strategies.

“My straightforward suggestion is to work closely with the Technology Licensing Office. Reach out to them before publishing, presenting or before even discussing it with your graduate student,” Yellepeddi said. This advice ensures the university will have the best possible chance at receiving a patent for your invention because the ability to protect your idea could be lost if a patent application isn’t filed before a public disclosure.

When should you disclose your research to TLO?

“The office will carve the way for you,” Yellepeddi said. TLO connected Yellepeddi to different people in the field and the University of Utah Therapeutics Accelerator to help his team continue developing the gel to increase the potential impact it will have on children suffering from sialorrhea.

Questions?

We support you and your innovation.

Regardless of what you are looking for, or what stage you are in the innovation journey, the Technology Licensing Office is your go-to source to connect you with the U’s innovation ecosystem.

Call 801.581.7792 or send us a message