Academic inventors’ crucial advancements accelerate leading-edge therapeutic treatments​

Krystof Bankiewicz, MD, PhD, is a renowned physician-scientist working on inventing gene therapies for a wide variety of brain disorders, including Parkinson’s disease, multiple system atrophy, Huntington’s, Alzheimer’s disease, AADC-deficiency and alcohol use disordersMichael Tweedle, PhD, is one of the world’s most prominent and innovative researchers in diagnostic imaging and contrast mediaMichael Tweedle

As Professor Emeritus in the Department of Radiology at The Ohio State University College of Medicine, Dr. Tweedle’s innovative work to increase the information content of diagnostic imaging is leading to more personalized biological-focused treatment. And it’s helping neurosurgeons to develop and deliver transformative therapies for previously incurable neurologic disorders.

“My work focuses on seeking targeted imaging agents that are biochemically associated with treatment,” Dr. Tweedle says. “So that patients’ therapy can be personalized to their biologically unique cancer.”

Dr. Bankiewicz is a professor in the Department of Neurological Surgery at the Ohio State College of Medicine. He works with Russell Lonser, MDprofessor and chair of Neurological Surgery at the Ohio State College of Medicine, to use advances in medical imaging tests to change the trajectory of gene therapy science. He collaborated with Dr. Lonser, to develop surgical devices and methods to deliver gene therapeutics directly to the brain to treat neurological disorders.

“Through magnetic resonance imaging, we receive a full, visual view of where to place gene therapy in the brain which gives us the ability to replace or edit a broken gene with new copies or infuse healthy versions of defective or missing genes in a patient," Dr. Bankiewicz says. “This is ushering in life-changing treatments for patients.”

Transformative progress has been made for the millions of people worldwide affected by neurological disorders that affect nerve cells in the brain and over time cause deterioration of the peripheral nervous system. This work also moves treatment from focusing on controlling symptoms to improving the specificity of diagnostic images. 

Drs. Bankiewicz and Tweedle’s induction into the National Academy of Invention (NAI) Fellows Program is the highest professional distinction awarded solely to inventors making significant contributions to both science and society through their work. They are the 17th and 18th Ohio State inventors selected for this prestigious honor, which now includes 1,700 Fellows worldwide from more than 300 prestigious universities, governmental and nonprofit research institutes. 

The innovations by these two leaders are accelerating the development of translational approaches to drug, gene and cell replacement therapies and influencing their next steps. Dr. Tweedle believes the future of medicine lies in early diagnosis and individually tailored treatments.

“Inventing, creating and driving new ideas to real-world practice is my passion,” Dr. Tweedle says. “So, I am deeply moved by the election to Fellow in the NAI."

“This takes the discovery beyond single applications of genome editing to developing platform approaches that can be used to address multiple diseases,” Dr. Bankiewicz says.