Qrono Receives National Institutes of Health Award to Improve
Treatment of Wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration




Qrono Inc., today announced that the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), National Institutes of Health (NIH), awarded Qrono a Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Phase I grant for $256,000 to improve the treatment options for wet age-related macular degeneration (wet AMD) and fund further development of the company’s predictive modeling technology for the design of long-acting injectable (LAI) drug formulations. The research will be conducted in collaboration with The Little Lab at the Swanson School of Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh.

Wet AMD is a leading cause of vision loss among older adults and can progress very quickly due to abnormal blood vessel growth behind the retina. Ranibizumab and bevacizumab are two drugs that target the proteins that cause this abnormal growth. However, because treatments with these drugs require a monthly eye injection, patient non-adherence (up to 67 percent) is a major problem. Qrono’s new LAI formulation for these drugs will reduce the injection frequency to once every three months or even six months which should improve patient adherence and thereby enable better patient outcomes

“We are grateful that the grant reviewers recognized the potential of our technology,” said Larry Zana, Qrono CEO & Co-Founder, “and we appreciate the support of NIGMS for this research.”

The grant will also enable Qrono to demonstrate that its predictive modeling technology, called QronoMetrics™, can be used to produce LAI formulations for a wide range of target pharmaceuticals in an unprecedented, rapid period of time. In Phase I, Qrono will develop LAI formulations for ranibizumab, bevacizumab, and two other active pharmaceutical ingredients. Upon successful completion of Phase I, Qrono will be eligible to apply for Phase II funding that will extend its predictive models to cover preclinical and clinical pharmacokinetic data.

QronoMetrics™ offers three key advantages in the production of custom controlled-release and microencapsulated systems:

• Removes the trial and error required by traditional design techniques, resulting in faster time-to-market, reduced development cost and reduced risk.
• Reduced active pharmaceutical ingredient costs, up to 60% less.
• Critical parameters automatically identified for quality by design (QbD) manufacture

Dr. Steven Little, Professor and Chairman of the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh, said “This grant will further enable research that builds upon our ongoing collaboration with Qrono. It is an excellent example of how an academic-industry collaboration can enable better medications.”

About Qrono:
Fully operational since 2012, Qrono Inc. is a specialty pharmaceutical company enabling better medications, stronger patient adherence, improved patient outcomes, and faster time-to-market for new medications using an innovative technology to create long-acting injectable (LAI) formulations. These long-acting drug formulations enable a single administration of active pharmaceutical ingredient to provide a therapeutic effect ranging from several days to many weeks or months. Our pipeline strategy focuses on LAI controlled release formulations of drugs with known safety profiles in therapeutic areas with either high non-adherence (e.g., antipsychotics and ophthalmology), or where LAIs can add therapeutic value (e.g., medical countermeasures and oncology).

About The Little Lab:
The Little Lab explores synthetic drug delivery strategies that mimic those of cells and tissues in order to enhance (or alternatively endow new) biological functionality. To this end, researchers explore new ways to produce complex presentations of bio-active molecules over time and space. The mission is twofold. Specifically, researchers aim to utilize biomimetic delivery systems to achieve both: 1) enhanced therapeutic efficiency for future drug formulations (e.g. “medicine that imitates life”) as well as 2) understanding of basic biological processes that are otherwise obscured without engineering tools that can be tuned to replicate multi-modal cellular “language”.

Pittsburgh Technology Council Leads Business Mission to Boston

The first meeting of the day takes place as part of the Council's Boston Venture Trip.

The first meeting of the day takes place as part of the Council’s Boston Venture Trip.

The Pittsburgh Technology Council is leading 12 of Pittsburgh’s most promising healthcare-related businesses to Boston today as part of an organized mission to connect Pittsburgh entrepreneurs with venture capital investors. Hosted in the Boston offices of K&L Gates, this mission is the third such trip that the Council has arranged in the past year. Similar to the recent missions to the Silicon Valley and New York, the participating entrepreneurs will participate in a full day of briefings with key venture capital firms and will have the opportunity to showcase their businesses. The investors were selected based upon their relevance to participating entrepreneurs, and they were given descriptions of participating companies in advance of today’s briefings.

This mission is the first to be focused specifically on the healthcare industry, but aligns extremely well with Pittsburgh’s strengths in the healthcare space.  According to a report issued earlier this year by the Council, healthcare related businesses captured the largest share of the $400 million of venture capital invested in the Pittsburgh region during the past 24 months. (Healthcare: $136 million; Business and Financial Services: $94 million; Information Technology: $61 million; Consumer Goods and Services: $54 million; Energy Utilities and Power Supplies: $31 million; Industrial Goods and Materials: $16 million)

With the vast majority of the capital that fuels the growth of Pittsburgh start-ups originating outside of the Pittsburgh region, the Council has dramatically stepped up its efforts to accelerate the development of investment relationships between our entrepreneurs and the nation’s most active investors. The Council is always looking for entrepreneurs to showcase as part of these outbound missions as well as its “Venture In” series, which is focused on attracting national investors to visit Pittsburgh and spend time with Pittsburgh-area entrepreneurs.

For more information on these PTC outbound missions or other angel and venture capital activities, please contact Julien Scranton at jscranton@pghtech.org.

B Three Solutions Bytes into Taco Tuesday

Aaron Cuffman, B Three Taco Eating Champ.

Aaron Cuffman, B Three Taco Eating Champ.

The first Tuesday of every month means one thing at Plum-based software developer B Three Solutions — Taco Tuesday at local watering hole John Anthony’s Restaurant.

Chuck Summerville (left) and Mike Walton relaxing at Taco Tuesday.

Chuck Summerville (left) and Mike Walton relaxing at Taco Tuesday.

B Three President Mike Walton takes a lot of pride in his staff’s dedication and hard work. Treating them to all the tacos they can eat is a simple and fun way to build camaraderie and a fun work environment.

Walton got the idea for a B Three Taco Tuesday when he overhead the owner of John Anthony’s mentioning she was making tacos at home. He suggested that she make them for B Three Solutions. The rest is history, and now an Italian restaurant is developing a reputation for making some of the tastiest tacos this side of the Mason-Dixon Line. John Anthony’s says they are “made with Italian love.”

Current Taco-Eating Champion Aaron Cuffman, a B Three Systems Analyst, has put away 13 of the delicacies to earn his title. The tacos come in fish, chicken or beef — hard shell and soft shell. He says events like Taco Tuesday really make B Three Solutions a cool and engaging place to work. Tasty, too! We sampled a few tacos, and Techburgher is thinking of changing its name to “TechTaco.”

B Three Solutions' team hunkers down for some tacos.

B Three Solutions’ team hunkers down for some tacos.

“We get everyone out here for a taco or two,” said Chuck Summerville, Director of Sales and Marketing at B Three Solutions. “We love Taco Tuesdays!”

Rumor has it that Walton is working with John Anthony’s on a B Three Burger. More on that later. Techburgher saw prototype and it appears to weigh about three pounds…

Demo Day Wrap-up

Seven technology-focused startups pitched their business plans to a packed house at the Pittsburgh Opera yesterday at the 10th Demo Day in the last five years of Innovation Works AlphaLab incubator. The event also included a University Preview, where five companies developing technologies at local universities explained their research and pitched their companies to investors as well. Technologies previewed ranged from cloud-based predictive analytics to a power-generating shoe insert to novel cancer detection technology.

Tune into 104.7 FM this Saturday from Noon to 1 pm to hear Audrey Russo and Jonathan Kersting of TechVibe Radio interview all of the companies who presented.

Here is a quick overview of all of the companies that presented:


Workshirt - Workshirt uses mobile technology to help people discover, capture and share experiences. Since entering the AlphaLab program in January 2o13, Workshirt has developed two web-based products – Photailor, a demand-driven photography marketplace; and HitchedPic, a photo sharing app specifically for the wedding industry.

PoweredAnalyticsPoweredAnalytics makes it easy for developers and data scientists to use Big Data and predictive analytics to optimize their products and processes. Powered Analytics is a cloud-based platform for automatically creating and operationalizing predictive models in mere minutes.

Woo with StyleWoo With Style is a web app and mobile website that helps style-challenged men know what looks good on them. Woo with Style shows men how to look their best with personalized outfit recommendations from a female perspective.

MeaningfyMeaningfy has built a scalable platform to deliver on-demand market intelligence services to sales and marketing professionals in real time. Meaningfy uses a range of machine learning algorithms to separate relevant information from noise that needs to be filtered out.

SolePowerSolePower is an energy harvesting company bringing a power generating shoe insole to market. The technology captures the energy from walking and converts it into usable electrical power, which is stored in a rechargeable battery attached outside of the shoe via USB connection.

NetBeezNetBeez is a first-of-its-kind network monitoring tool for enterprises that tests and validates a network from the end-user perspective. This unique approach relies on distributed monitoring agents that simulate user interactions with the network and its applications, providing real-time outage detection before users are impacted.

Digital Dream Labs – dreamWare is a platform that bridges that gap between worlds where nostalgic, hands-on learning meets engaging, digital technology. Digital Dream Labs‘ product, children solve simple sequence puzzles in real life that are transmitted wirelessly to a tablet or other electronic device for continued interaction.

University Preview:

LumatorLumator provides intelligent, automated services that optimize how residential electricity consumers buy and use electricity.

SolvvySolvvy uses the wisdom of the Web to intelligently automate troubleshooting.

Institute of Consultative Bioethics – ICB’s EthAssist software delivers a full-fledged, searchable and user-friendly learning CMS that includes current and relevant academic, legal and applied bioethics knowledge.

EuTalk is a mobile app that enables people with communication disabilities (autism, stroke) to communicate.

NanoVision Diagnostics – NVD is commercializing a novel cancer detection technology that conducts an optical analysis which provides earlier and more accurate cancer detection.

Technology and Entrepreneurs

What drives a person to become an entrepreneur is a passion to do something differently. They are not satisfied to do things like they’ve always been done. In the hands of an entrepreneur, technology is often used in unique ways. Many times these ideas leave the rest of us thinking “How did they come up with that?”

Saving Lives with Smartphones

Interview entrepreneurs in Pennsylvania, California, or any other state, and you will hear the same goal — how can we use existing technology to improve people’s lives? Technical pioneers have recognized that a tool to prevent a potentially fatal situation is already in our pockets.

It’s estimated that by the end of 2013, over half of the US population that uses mobile devices will own a smartphone. They are becoming a commodity item that people rely on for communicating, information and now, monitoring their own health.

Azumio, a California based maker of consumer health applications, has developed a smartphone app called Cardio Buddy. The goal of this app is to prevent a heart attack from happening. Using the camera on the smartphone, the app measures the facial coloration of a person. From this information it extrapolates the person’s heart rate and risk of having a cardiac event.

Printing Performance

One of the newest technology innovations is the 3D printer. Since most of us think of printing as words or images on paper, this is an ideal technology for the entrepreneur to employ in ways outside of the norm.

New Balance is a manufacturer of high-performance shoes for athletes. They are now using 3D printing to create an even better product. Using various measuring and data capture methods, they collect information from individuals about their running habits. This data is analyzed and a customized pattern for the bottom of the shoe is created for that individual using a 3D printer. As the process evolves, New Balance hopes to be able to print running shoe soles for anyone. They even see the potential of being able to print an entire shoe someday.

If We Can Print a Shoe, Why Not a House?

Entrepreneurs are not afraid of thinking way outside of the box. They are able to envision concepts that most of us dismiss as completely impractical. That’s why we need entrepreneurs.

Universe Architecture is a Dutch company that will attempt to print a house on a 3D printer. They will use a specially constructed printer that produces 6 x 9 meter hollow sections that will be filled with reinforced concrete. This is exactly the kind of project that entrepreneurs enjoy doing to help redefine how we can use technology.

Entrepreneurs Define Our Technology

We have access to many technologies. Some of it we rely on every day. Entrepreneurs in Pennsylvania and around the world look at how we can use it in innovative ways, often leading to the creation of even better technology.