On the space station, astronauts will use specially designed plates to release the gel into other liquids to see how it reacts in microgravity and how well the drugs within the gel flow into other types of liquid. They will run concurrent experiments on earth to compare how the materials react differently in space.
“Since no one else has ever looked at this sort of phenomenon in microgravity conditions, we are starting at the very beginning,” Horn-Ranney says.
Tympanogen’s leap into space began with a small step into Tulane’s Office of Technology Transfer and Intellectual Property Development seven years ago. The office gave them a $20,000 pilot grant to conduct animal studies that showed the gel could work as designed. They used the data to launch their company. The office helped them apply for a patent and introduced them to resources throughout Tulane to help them develop their innovation into a biotech venture.
“Basically all of the resources we needed on campus were available to us,” Horn-Ranney says. “So just having that little bit of money to do that initial study within the environment that we needed was everything. The company wouldn’t have happened without it.”