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Upstate Startup wins SUNY award for revolutionary corneal injury treatment

Upstate Medical University-based startup DUB Biologics took home the top prize this month; their business pitch earning them $50,000 at the SUNY Start Up Summer School (S4) Demo Day. 

Headed by co-founders Professor Audrey Bernstein and Research Associate Tere Williams, DUB Biologics is creating a siRNA therapeutic that could prevent corneal scarring and inflammation and revolutionize the treatment of corneal injuries.   

They’re hoping to change how corneal injuries and scarring that can lead to vision loss are treated. As inflammation is a major part of the scarring response, a mix of antibiotics and corticosteroids are often currently prescribed. Steroids produce inconsistent results and well-established adverse events that include cataracts and glaucoma. The available treatments are also time-consuming; the current dosage for some prescriptions can be required as frequently as 4 times/day for over a month. DUB Biologics’ product is made of self-delivery siRNA (sdRNA) that can penetrate cells without additional reagents. One dose of sdRNA lasts 2-3 months to reduce inflammation and prevent scarring. 

Upstate Medical University President Dr. Mantosh Dewan said, "The work of Professor Audrey Bernstein, PhD, and Senior Research Support Specialist Tere Williams demonstrates the heart of Upstate Medical University's mission—research, patient care, and education. Their siRNA therapeutic, designed to promote wound closure and protect against infection and scarring, displays the cutting-edge advantage of collaboration within an academic medical center. Congratulations to Dr. Bernstein and Tere Williams on their win during the SUNY Startup Summer School Class of 2023 Demo Day and thank you to SUNY for providing these impressive and valuable partnership opportunities." 

S4 is an annual business accelerator program that aims to identify, educate, and build strong entrepreneurial teams in order to bring SUNY technologies to market. The program offers virtual accelerated entrepreneurial education and training for participants to help them secure the initial funding needed to get their technology to market. S4 participation has increased from 84 students, faculty, and staff participants in 2019, to 179 participants this year, representing 113% growth. 

Caption: Celebrating the Start-Up win are, from left, SUNY Research Foundation Director of New Ventures Nicholas Querques; DUB Biologics co-founders, Upstate Medical University's Research Associate Tere Williams and Professor Audrey Bernstein; SUNY Senior Vice Chancellor for Research, Innovation, and Economic Development Shadi Sandvik; and SUNY Vice President for Industry and External Affairs Matthew Mroz.