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Tech transfer, Millennium, Incogen, and Hyseq


In the year since GT presented a guide on the finer points of technology transfer in its November/ December cover story, universities don’t seem to be slowing down in the licensing department. In fact, Ann Hammersla, president of the Association of University Technology Managers, reports that 33 institutions received more than $10 million in license income in fiscal year 2003, and 151 licenses yielded more than $1 million in revenue. According to the AUTM’s latest survey, there were 15,510 invention disclosures in FY2003, which is an increase of 7.7 percent on the number we reported in last year’s issue.

The 2004 issue also featured the results of our first-ever grants survey, for which we pulled together readers’ responses to uncover trends in funding priorities. We took this germinal idea and expanded on it in the current issue (p. 30), where you’ll find the inside story on best-funded technology categories, survey data from scientists on lab funding, and words of wisdom from proven grant getters in your field.

Back in November 2000, Mike Pavia, then-CTO of Millennium Pharmaceuticals, spoke with us about the company’s homemade DNA chips and their potential to streamline the drug discovery process. Less than two years after our story ran, Pavia left the company to become entrepeneur-in-residence at Oxford Bioscience Partners in Boston. In 2003, the defunct Cereon Genomics, a joint venture between Millennium and Monsanto, spawned Cantata Pharmaceuticals, a drug discovery firm that Pavia joined as CTO. In the meantime, Millennium has made good on its mission to bring new drugs to market: by its 10th anniversary in 2003, the company had launched injectable bortesomib for the treatment of multiple myeloma, and this year it initiated a phase II clinical trial to evaluate MLN1202 in cardiovascular disease.

The same issue also sported a piece on Incogen’s Java-based, sequence-analysis pipeline builder called VIBE, which was developed for use on TimeLogic’s DeCypher accelerators. Back then, the company was based in Clemson, SC; one year after our story ran, Incogen’s corporate headquarters moved to Williamsburg, Va. Most recently, the company received a phase II SBIR grant from NSF to develop an educational version of VIBE, to be co-marketed with Apple.

Five years ago in December, we covered Hyseq right after George Rathmann and Ted Love signed on. With Rathmann as chairman of the board of directors and Love as CEO and president, the company began to focus on biopharmaceuticals based on genes identified via sequencing by hybridization. Hyseq begat Callida Genomics, a subsidiary formed in partnership with Affymetrix, to develop and commercialize sequencing tools. Later, in 2003, Hyseq merged with Variagenics, and the combined company emerged as Nuvelo. These days Love serves as president, CEO, and chairman of Nuvelo’s board of directors, while Rathmann remains on the board.

— Jen Crebs

Don’t miss these features in the January/February issue:


Oligos & synthetic genomics

At what point will the science of genomics lead to true biological engineering? With the ramp-up of synthetic genomics — building genomes from the ground up, or engineering existing genomes to give organisms new functions — the previously staid world of oligo vendors will once again take center stage. GT looks into the oligo arena and introduces readers to the major players in synthetic genomics, with an eye toward where this field is heading.


Location proteomics

The latest advance in the proteomics field, this high-throughput, image-based technology is a means of using location patterns of proteins in cells to help determine function and relationship to other proteins. GT talks to thought leaders in the field to give readers a handle on what location proteomics is, how it works, and how it fits into the systems biology realm.


The Scan

Positive Framing of Genetic Studies Can Spark Mistrust Among Underrepresented Groups

Researchers in Human Genetics and Genomics Advances report that how researchers describe genomic studies may alienate potential participants.

Small Study of Gene Editing to Treat Sickle Cell Disease

In a Novartis-sponsored study in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found that a CRISPR-Cas9-based treatment targeting promoters of genes encoding fetal hemoglobin could reduce disease symptoms.

Gut Microbiome Changes Appear in Infants Before They Develop Eczema, Study Finds

Researchers report in mSystems that infants experienced an enrichment in Clostridium sensu stricto 1 and Finegoldia and a depletion of Bacteroides before developing eczema.

Acute Myeloid Leukemia Treatment Specificity Enhanced With Stem Cell Editing

A study in Nature suggests epitope editing in donor stem cells prior to bone marrow transplants can stave off toxicity when targeting acute myeloid leukemia with immunotherapy.