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emerging technologies

Using virtual reality to view patients’ organs

Photo courtesy of BodyViz

Iowa-based BodyViz has created virtual-reality software that lets doctors create 3-D visualizations of their patients’ organs from two-dimensional images created through techniques such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed axial tomography (the CT scan).

The “voyage through the body”, enabled by these 3-D images, will let doctors plan surgical procedures more accurately; the software also can be used for patient and medical education.

For more information, contact Curt Carlson, BodyViz.

Photo courtesy of University of Houston

Texas Innovator Biotechnology

UH biotech center sparks critical industry growth

The University of Houston’s Center for Life Sciences Technology is spurring education and research in hopes of making Texas one of the frontrunners in a high-growth industry.

Established in 2006 with about $372,000 in seed money, the program teaches fledgling scientists and gives others faced with a lack of capital a chance to test new ideas. It now boasts $1.6 million in funding from the Texas Workforce Commission, the National Science Foundation and other corporate sources.

For more information, contact the Center for Life Sciences Technology at (713) 743-2255.

Texas Innovator biosciences

Treating stroke with stem cells

A joint team from Memorial Hermann - Texas Medical Center and the University of Texas Medical School at Houston recently made medical history by treating a stroke patient with his own stem cells, in the nation’s first such procedure.

The medical team is investigating the use of adult stem cells in stroke treatment under a grant from the National Institutes of Health. The procedure, conducted in March 2009, involved extracting stem cells from the patient’s bone marrow, purifying them and then injecting them back into the patient.

Research has shown that stem cells will gravitate toward the site of injury in the brain and support healing by reducing inflammation and aiding repair processes.

The patient, a 61-year-old painter and farmer from Liberty in East Texas, is recovering well and without paralysis. While the team cautions that it is too soon to attribute his recovery to the stem cell treatment, the technique holds promise of becoming a useful new therapeutic tool for treating stroke victims. According to the American Stroke Association, stroke is the third most-common cause of death in the U.S. Nearly 800,000 Americans suffer a stroke each year.

For more information, contact Dr. Sean Savitz, University of Texas Medical School at Houston.

Texas Innovator agriculture

Not your average cotton

A new technology from Texas Tech University could boost the quality of West Texas cotton.

Developed by Thea Wilkins, director of the university’s International Center for Excellence in Agricultural Genomics and Biotechnology, this new cotton variety produced longer, stronger fibers – the hallmarks of the commodity’s quality – in the experimental stage.

California-grown cotton currently leads the nation in cotton quality, says Thomas Thompson, chair and professor of the Soil Science Department.

“In years past, West Texas cotton has not had the best reputation,” he says. “This is another advance in the search to produce longer, stronger, finer cotton fiber.”

Instead of being used to make T-shirts, this new cotton variety could be used to make high thread count, premium cotton sheets, Thompson explains. Such commercial potential has prompted Texas Tech’s System Office of Technology Commercialization to contract with Bayer CropScience for an exclusive licensing agreement to use the new technology.

For more information, visit the Texas Tech System Office of Technology Commercialization.

Texas Innovator Government

TWC blog keeps tabs on job market

A new blog from the Texas Workforce Commission provides up-to-date information on the state work force. will initially focus on statistics, policy issues and other economic data but is expected to include more information and tips. Early entries have addressed health care, Internet employment fraud and employee training. Job seekers and employers can sign up for RSS feeds and request e-mail alerts for new posts.

Meet America's Entrepreneurial Superstars, Inc. 500.

Texas Innovator Business

Texas firms popular on Inc. 500 list

Texas landed 45 companies on the Inc. 500 list of the top growing private businesses in the United States, second only to California’s 83. Technology firms were well represented, including Austin Internet marketing firm Adlucent at 73; The Woodlands health monitoring business eCardio Diagnostics at 117; and Austin-based custom software management company Headspring Systems at 127. Others in the top 250 include orthodontic technology firm OraMetrix (Richardson, 159); sales technology company Smiley Media (Austin, 168); Internet firm HostGator (Houston, 239); and business technology business ePsolutions (Austin, 244).

For more information contact Inc.

Texas Innovator Energy

Solar-powered parking meters

Energy efficiency, reliability and customer convenience – although drivers have to walk a few extra yards – are among the benefits from Austin’s new solar-powered parking meters.

The city of Austin is installing 500 solar-powered meters that accept credit cards or cash and replacing 3,800 coin-fed meters that were years beyond their 10-year expected life. The Plano-manufactured meters have a three-year battery-life and a 15-year lifespan.

Fixed-length parking bays will be eliminated as drivers pay for time, not a specific place, and capacity will potentially be added from smaller vehicles parked closer together. Drivers running errands can pay once for a block of time and move their car without having to feed a second meter.

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