Weibo Cai Has Two Patents Issued in Span of a Few Months

Posted on June 2021

Dr. Weibo Cai

Professor Weibo Cai, PhD was part of two teams that were issued patents recently. The first patent, issued in April, is for treating acute kidney injury with DNA origami nanostructures, which can exhibit preferential renal uptake after intravenous injection. The DNA origami nanostructure includes a scaffold strand (a circular single-stranded DNA of 7249-nucleotides) and a plurality of staple strands, each of which has a length of about 20 to 60 bases. There are eight inventors listed on the patent from four research groups in four institutions. The related manuscript was published in 2018 in Nature Biomedical Engineering (PMCID: PMC6258029).

The second patent, a self-powered, auto-responsive implanted vagal nerve stimulator for weight control, was issued in June. The device has a “passive” generating power source in that it harvests the stomach’s movements to transform kinetic energy to electrical charge without the need for a battery. The invention is self-powering and is automatically timed to stomach peristalsis. While sporadic stimulation to the vagal nerve would seem too infrequent to cause weight loss effects, electrical stimulation delivered at the optimal time (e.g., during food consumption) has been found to optimize the effects of vagal nerve stimulation, giving the user’s brain a “full stomach” signal before the user overconsumes food. Effective weight control was achieved in various animal models. The related manuscript was published in 2018 in Nature Communications.

Dr. Cai was thrilled that both patents were issued. “Since I started as a faculty in 2008 at UW-Madison, I have disclosed a number of inventions to WARF. However, most of them were not accepted or filed due to various reasons. It is very exciting to have two patents issued within a few weeks. I am sure there will be many more inventions to be disclosed and issued in the next several years, and we are working very actively on some of these at the moment,” he says.