Students develop system to fight TB

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Classroom science translated into practical medical treatments

A new system developed by Harvard undergraduates delivers anti-tuberculosis drugs through an inhaler, increasing the likelihood that patients will take them over longer periods, and reducing the side effects of pills and injections. To test and market the system, the group has formed a nonprofit corporation called MEND (MEdicine in NeeD). “It’s the beginning of an effort to bring new technology from the labs and classrooms of Harvard to patients by the quickest means possible,” according to David Darst, a 21-year-old junior. “It’s a first as far as we know.” “We started a course to give students the opportunity to translate classroom science into practical medical treatments,” adds David Edwards, Gordon McKay Professor of Biomedical Engineering in the Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences (DEAS). Centered at DEAS, this effort includes two other biotechnology startups. One is focused on protecting against bioterrorist attacks on livestock by countering the spread of airborne germs, such as those that cause foot-and-mouth disease. The other hopes to come up with a noninvasive method of pet neutering.