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Abraxis Bioscience, Buck Institute, Mitopharm, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Modern Biosciences, University of Dundee, Rosetta, Ben Gurion University, U of Alabama, Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, McCracken & Frank, iBIO Institute

Abraxis Takes License to Drug Discovery IP from Buck Institute
Abraxis Bioscience this week said that it has acquired exclusive worldwide rights to intellectual property related to drug discovery methods from the Buck Institute for Age Research, located in Novato, Calif.
Included in the licensed technologies are an immunotherapeutic/anti-cancer compound and cell-based assay systems for discovering additional immune-modulating drugs, Abraxis said.
Specifically, Abraxis said that it licensed T9, a bifunctional molecule with the ability to kill cancer cells and activate the immune response to recognize cancer cells “in a manner analogous to childhood vaccination;” as well as a platform designed to discover new chemical entities that remediate the signaling activities of p53 in p53-dysfunctional cancer cells.
Abraxis said that its agreement with the Buck Institute also calls for it to license all leading drug candidates discovered by Buck using the p53 assay system.
Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
Over the past year, Abraxis, based in Los Angeles, has entered into strategic alliances or licensing agreements with the California Nanosystems Institute at the University of California at Los Angeles, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, University of British Columbia, University of Maryland, John Wayne Cancer Institute, University of Southern California, and Biocon.

Mitopharm Licenses Chemical Extraction Process from Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
Mitopharm this week said that it has exclusively licensed patents from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology for the use and commercialization of a process for extracting (-)schisandrin B and schisandrin B from the fruit of Schisandra chinensis.
Mitopharm said that the agreement provides it with the first commercial-scale process for extracting the chemicals with a high degree of purity and well-defined bacterial levels. Specifically, the process incorporates hybrid chromatography-crystallization technology.
The new extraction process will extend Mitopharm’s reach with its own branded products to pharmaceuticals, dietary supplements, functional beverages, and commercial-grade raw material applications.
Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Modern Biosciences Licenses Cancer Drug from University of Dundee
Drug-development company Modern Biosciences has taken an exclusive, worldwide license from the University of Dundee for the development of rimcazole in cancer, the company said last week.
Under the terms of the agreement, Modern Bioscience will fund and manage the development program. Revenues generated through commercialization of the drug will be shared by Modern Biosciences and the university.
Modern Biosciences said that it expects rimcazole to be in human clinical trials within a year.
The development of rimcazole for treating cancer has been furthered by the lab of Barbara Spruce, a researcher at the University of Dundee.
The university, with the backing of Wellcome Trust, the North-East Scotland Technology Fund, and Scottish Enterprise, has progressed rimcazole to the point of clinical development.
Further financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Rosetta, Ben Gurion University to Develop miRNA-Targeting Drugs
Rosetta Genomics said last week that it has formed a collaboration with Israel’s Ben Gurion University to develop microRNA-targeting therapeutics against several viruses including the Epstein-Barr virus and herpes simplex viruses.
“Because some viruses encode microRNAs, we believe the silencing of a viral microRNA may form the basis for a new class of drugs to treat infectious diseases,” Zvi Bentwich, Rosetta’s CSO, said in a statement. “We have discovered microRNAs encoded in Epstein-Barr virus and have proven their expression in EBV-infected cell lines. As proof of concept, we have demonstrated in vitro that the inhibition of these EBV microRNAs inhibits viral replication."
Specific terms of the alliance were not disclosed.

U of Alabama Signs Research, Licensing Pact with QRxPharma
The University of Alabama last week announced a collaborative research and licensing agreement with QRxPharma, a clinical stage specialty pharmaceutical company developing therapeutics for pain management and central nervous system disorders.
Under the terms of the agreement, UA and QRxPharma will re-engineer existing drug therapies for new clinical applications including the treatment of dystonia, Parkinson’s disease, and other neurological disorders.
In addition, QRxPharma has licensed from UA patents related to a particular gene shown to suppress the harmful misfolding of proteins within cells, which plays an important role in many neurological diseases.
The partnership builds on research conducted by Guy and Kim Caldwell, professors at UA’s department of biological sciences. The Caldwells will also serve on QRxPharma’s scientific advisory board.
Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Alnylam Says European Tuschl-2 Patent Cleared for Issuance
Alnylam Pharmaceuticals said last week that it has received notification from the European Patent Office that a key patent within the Tuschl II patent estate has been cleared for issuance.
According to the company, the patent is expected to be granted within the next six months.
The soon-to-be-granted patent, EP 1407044, covers compositions, methods, and uses of siRNAs, Alnylam said, adding that an Australian counterpart to the intellectual property was recently granted.
The Tuschl II patent family is exclusively licensed worldwide to Alnylam for RNAi therapeutics through an agreement with Max Planck Innovation GmbH, the licensing agent for Max Planck Society.

Chicago Law Firm Partners with iBIO Institute’s Entrepreneurship Program
McCracken & Frank, an intellectual property law firm based in Chicago, said this week that it will work together with the educational arm of the Illinois Biotechnology Industry Organization and its Propel program to facilitate the development of new life sciences companies.
As part of the partnership, McCracken & Frank will provide entrepreneurs with access to specialized expertise in intellectual property law on a pro bono basis.
The iBIO PROPEL program provides intensive education to entrepreneurs in business, economic, and legal matters at no expense to the entrepreneur. The program is designed to promote the development of Illinois life sciences start-up companies and enhance the survival rates of existing companies. It is modeled on the best practices of other US programs, including the San Diego Connect, which has fueled numerous venture-backed start-ups in Southern California, iBIO said.

The Scan

Sick Newborns Selected for WGS With Automated Pipeline

Researchers successfully prioritized infants with potential Mendelian conditions for whole-genome sequencing or rapid whole-genome sequencing, as they report in Genome Medicine.

Acne-Linked Loci Found Through GWAS Meta-Analysis

Researchers in the European Journal of Human Genetics find new and known acne vulgaris risk loci with a genome-wide association study and meta-analysis, highlighting hair follicle- and metabolic disease-related genes.

Retina Cell Loss Reversed by Prime Editing in Mouse Model of Retinitis Pigmentosa

A team from China turns to prime editing to correct a retinitis pigmentosa-causing mutation in the PDE6b gene in a mouse model of the progressive photoreceptor loss condition in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.

CRISPR Screens Reveal Heart Attack-Linked Gene

Researchers in PLOS Genetics have used CRISPR screens to home in on variants associated with coronary artery disease that affect vascular endothelial function.