This device fights cancer

By Heather Clancy and Adam Lashinsky
February 12, 2016

One of the joys of TED, which begins on Monday in Vancouver, is that it’s not a business conference. For a non-profit, TED runs a shrewd and lucrative operation. And there will be plenty of businesspeople conducting all manner of commerce. But the conference itself is about ideas and connections. Cliché though it sounds, it’s a true mind-expanding experience.

One of TED’s laudable traditions is to bring a group of fellows—accomplished younger people who otherwise wouldn’t have attended—to the conference. As I did last year, when I interviewed Matt Kenyon, an artist with an anti-corporate bent, I sought out some fellows ahead of the conference whose work intersects with commerce.

One who stood out is Laura Indolfi. She is many things: A PhD in biomedical engineering from the Universita di Napoli Federico II in Italy, an MBA from MIT, research fellow at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, and, most importantly to what she’ll discuss at TED, CEO of a company called PanTher Therapeutics. Her startup’s potentially breakthrough product is an implantable device that delivers cancer drugs directly to a tumor. The first target is pancreatic cancer. She explained to me this week that because the pancreas has few blood vessels, it is difficult for chemotherapy to reach the organ. Targeting a tumor holds the promise of being more effective and reducing side effects elsewhere in the patient’s body.

Indolfi is an admirably commercially minded scientist. After enrolling in some business-school classes at MIT, she “fell in love with business and the idea of being able to bring to market the things we were doing in the lab,” she told me. She scratched that itch by becoming a finalist in an MIT business-plan competition and starting PanTher. Her company currently is applying for small business innovation research grants from the National Institutes of Health.

PanTher has tested its device on animals to impressive results and hopes to move on to human trials relatively soon. Her ambitions are giant. “We can go beyond pancreatic cancer,” she says. “We hope we can address all solid tumors.”

You can’t help but wish her every success.

Adam Lashinsky
@adamlashinsky
adam_lashinsky@fortune.com

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BITS AND BYTES

Google’s rumored virtual reality headset won’t need a PC. Most virtual reality devices work in collaboration with a computer or gaming console, but Google is developing one that requires neither, reports The Wall Street Journal. It makes sense that the pioneer in smart eyeglasses would experiment with ways to help virtual reality headsets stand on their own. (Wall Street Journal)

Apple, AT&T face suit over ‘3D touch’ feature. California company Immersion claims that the haptic technology in Apple’s iPhone 6 and 6s smartphone models—which allows users to access additional features by changing the amount of pressure they apply using their fingers—infringes on its intellectual property. Immersion licenses its technology to medical device makers and electronics companies. (Re/code, Computerworld)

Did Airbnb fudge its data? Researchers suggest the home-starting startup cleaned up its New York City database—removing nearly 1,000 listings by hosts who rent multiple apartments—before publicly disclosing the information last year. New York officials are concerned the site facilitates illegal commercial rentals. Airbnb, which disputes the allegations, has pledged to be more transparent. (Fortune)

FireEye anticipates slower cybersecurity growth. Many projects in 2015 were undertaken to clean up major hacking incidents, and spending this year will look slower by comparison, according to the company’s CEO Dave DeWalt. FireEye’s recent acquisitions of iSight Partners and Invotas will also weigh on its results, because their products are sold over time as subscriptions, DeWalt said. (Reuters)

Google won’t accept Flash format ads starting next year. If you had any doubt about the long-term future for Adobe’s Flash technology—a graphics format currently used to create a whopping 84% of all Internet banners—you may lay them to rest. Flash continues to be criticized over security and performance. By 2017, the Internet search giant will require advertisers to use HTML 5, a move meant to “enhance the browsing experience.” (Fortune)

California insurance regulators are investigating Zenefits. The state is probing whether the benefits software company sold insurance policies without the proper licenses. The probe began last year—and it isn’t the only one. Regulators were inspired to disclose it after Zenefits founder and CEO Parker Conrad resigned this week, revealing systemic operational issues at the fast-growing startup. (Fortune)

Pandora may be for sale, but who would buy it? According to the New York Times, the cash-burning company has hired Morgan Stanley to explore a sale. Sure, the streaming music service has 250 million registered users, but only 3 million or so actually pay for their accounts. By comparison, the much younger Apple Music reportedly has about 10 million subscribers. (Fortune, New York Times)

How Facebook combats terrorism. The social network is policing profiles for people who actively support known terrorist groups and removing them proactively. It has also hired a team to encourage “counter speech” in the form of images, videos and commentary that discredits terrorist causes. (Wall Street Journal)

Yahoo begins layoffs. The first wave of staff reductions takes effect April 11, across a range of departments. The Internet company’s CEO Marissa Mayer eventually plans to eliminate about 1,500 people, or about 15% of its workforce, even as the board tries to sell the core business. (Re/code, Reuters)


THE DOWNLOAD

Why Venmo stopped this woman from using its payments app. (It isn’t about her credit.) Noor Ahmed’s friends liked to tease her because she didn’t use Venmo, a must-have app for many millennials who use it to split restaurant checks and send money back and forth on their smartphones. So Ahmed, a 31-year-old pharmaceutical marketer in New York, decided to sign up.

Venmo refused to add her. Instead, it sent an email, asking Ahmed to verify her identity through a morass of antiquated paperwork. It turns out that she, like thousands of other Americans, shares a name with someone on a list-of-concern created by a U.S. Treasury Department group called the Office of Foreign Assets Control. The onus was on her to prove she wasn’t a risk. Sometimes, apparently, the world of digital payments isn’t as simple as it’s portrayed. (Fortune)



ONE MORE THING

Which pooch is your perfect pet? Microsoft’s latest lighthearted (yet powerful) artificial intelligence app identifies which dog breed you resemble. Depending on your expression, it could be different from day to day. (Fortune)


MARK YOUR CALENDAR

Spark Summit: Open source data science. (Feb. 16 – 18; New York)

IBM InterConnect: Cloud and mobile issues. (Feb. 21 – 25; Las Vegas)

Social Media Week: Reimagine human connectivity. (Feb. 22 – 26; New York)

MarketingSherpa Summit: Advance your campaign and careers. (Feb. 22 – 24; Las Vegas)

Enterprise Connect: Communications and collaboration trends. (March 7 – 10; Orlando, Florida)

Pure//Accelerate: The future of the modern data center. (March 14 – 15; San Francisco)

Adobe Summit 2016: Digital strategies. (March 20 – 14; Las Vegas)

Next 2016: Google’s cloud platform strategy. (March 23 – 24; San Francisco)

Microsoft Build: Microsoft’s premier developer conference. (March 30 – April 1; San Francisco)

Microsoft Envision: Where business meets possibility. (April 4 – 7; New Orleans)

Qlik Qonnections: Business intelligence trends. (May 1 – 4; Orlando, Florida)

EMC World: What’s next for digital business. (May 2 – 5; Las Vegas)

The Marketing Nation Summit: Marketo’s annual conference. (May 9 – 12; Las Vegas)

Salesforce Connections: Cloud marketing trends. (May 10 – 12; Atlanta)

Coupa Inspire: Rethink the possible. (May 10 – 12; San Francisco)

Knowledge 16: ServiceNow’s annual service management conference. (May 15 – 20; Las Vegas)

Fortune Brainstorm E: The intersection of technology, energy, and sustainable business. (May 16 – 17; Carlsbad, California)

SAPPHIRE Now: SAP’s annual conference. (May 17 – 19; Orlando, Florida)

Gartner Digital Marketing: How to move from vision to execution. (May 17 – 19; San Diego)

Gartner Supply Chain Executive: Creating a value chain. (May 17 – 19; Phoenix)

Google I/O (registration link coming soon): For creative software coders. (May 18 – 20; Mountain View, Calif.)

MuleSoft Connect: Enable your digital transformation. (May 21 – 25; San Francisco)

MongoDB World: For giant ideas. (June 28 – 29; New York)

Inforum: Infor’s annual user conference. (July 10 – 13; New York)

Fortune Brainstorm Tech: The world’s top tech and media thinkers, operators, entrepreneurs, innovators, and influencers. (July 11 – 13; Aspen, Colorado)

Sage Summit. For fast-growth businesses. (July 25 – 28; Chicago)

Workday Rising: Talent management in the cloud. (Sept. 26 – 29; Chicago)

Microsoft Ignite: Product roadmaps and innovation. (Sept. 26 – 30; Atlanta)

OracleWorld. The future of the cloud is now. (Sept. 18 – 22, San Francisco)

Dreamforce: The Salesforce ecosystem gathers. (Oct. 4 – 7; San Francisco)

 


This edition of Data Sheet was curated by Heather Clancy.
@greentechlady
heather@heatherclancy.com

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