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Applied NeuroSolutions, Optherion, Yale, U of Iowa, New Leaf Venture Partners, InnovateTech, DRI Capital, Sirtris Pharmaceuticals

Albert Einstein Awarded US Patent Licensed to APNS for Alzheimer’s
Applied NeuroSolutions last week said that a US patent entitled “Novel saitohin gene and uses of same,” has been issued to Albert Einstein College of Medicine.
APNS said that it has exclusive rights to the patent for use in Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases through licensing deals with AECOM.
The inventors on the patent are Peter Davies, APNS’s founding scientist and professor of pathology at AECOM; and Chris Conrad, an assistant professor of pathology at Columbia University Medical Center.
The saitohin gene covered in the patent is nested within the tau gene that in turn creates the tau protein that is prominent in the development of neurofibrillary tangles, a hallmark pathology of Alzheimer’s.

Optherion Raises $37M to Turn Yale, U of Iowa Research into AMD Treatment
Optherion, a company developing treatments for age-related macular degeneration, has received $37 million in Series A financing, the company said last week.
Optherion, based in New Haven, Conn., is commercializing scientific discoveries made at Yale University and the University of Iowa.
Specifically, the company’s drug-development platform is based on research by Josephine Hoh, an associate professor of epidemiology and public health at the Yale School of Public Health, and Gregory Hageman, professor of ophthalmology at University of Iowa.
Hoh and Hageman linked complement factor H and complement factor B, elements of the alternate complement pathway of the immune system, with AMD.
Participants in the Series A financing included, but were not limited to Quaker Bioventures, Domain Associates, Johnson & Johnson Development, Purdue Pharmaceutical Products, Pappas Ventures, Biogen Idec New Ventures, and GE Healthcare Financial Services.

New Leaf Venture Closes $450M Life Sciences VC Fund
New Leaf Venture Partners last week announced that it has closed New Leaf Ventures II, a $450 million VC fund dedicated to healthcare technologies.
New Leaf said that it exceeded its target of $400 million and closed at its hard cap of investor commitments.
With offices in Menlo Park, Calif., and New York, New Leaf will continue to invest primarily in companies focused on clinical-stage biopharmaceutical products, early-stage medical devices, and molecular diagnostics.
Since the inception in 2005 of the New Leaf Ventures I fund, NLV Partners has invested in 19 companies, including Cerexa, Ilypsa, Adeza Biomedical, Phase Forward, and Sirna Therapeutics.

Tech-Transfer Firm InnovateTech Opens Shop
InnovateTech, a technology transfer firm that builds startup companies based on technologies developed at universities and research institutions officially launched last week.
InnovateTech, based in Herndon, Va., will assist universities, non-profits, and for-profits in identifying high-potential technologies that could serve as the basis of a startup, and will assemble the management team and funding around each venture.
The company said that it has secured an initial contract with an undisclosed Washington, DC-based non-profit, and anticipates the closing of additional contracts with two major universities in early 2008.

Drug Royalty Corporation now Called DRI Capital
DRI Capital announced last week that it has changed its name from Drug Royalty Corporation.
Based in Toronto, DRI Capital is a privately held investment management company focused on the healthcare industry. The company currently manages two funds: the Royalty Monetization Fund and the Structured Finance Fund.
DRI’s Royalty Monetization Fund acquires existing royalty streams at competitive rates from companies, institutions, and inventors. In 2007, the company deployed about $450 million with royalty acquisitions on products such as Enbrel, FluMist, Preotact, and Peg-Intron.

Sirtris Pharma Licenses MIT Patent to Develop Age-Related Disease
Sirtris Pharmaceuticals said last week that it has signed an exclusive license agreement with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for intellectual property related to SIRT1 as a novel mechanism that affects atherosclerosis and other age-related disease.
Specifically, the agreement provides Sirtris with exclusive rights to IP covered under the US Patent entitled “Cholesterol-regulating complex of SIRT1 and LXR and methods of use.”
Sirtris, based in Cambridge, Mass., is focused on discovering and developing small-molecule drugs to treat diseases of aging.

The Scan

Germline-Targeting HIV Vaccine Shows Promise in Phase I Trial

A National Institutes of Health-led team reports in Science that a broadly neutralizing antibody HIV vaccine induced bnAb precursors in 97 percent of those given the vaccine.

Study Uncovers Genetic Mutation in Childhood Glaucoma

A study in the Journal of Clinical Investigation ties a heterozygous missense variant in thrombospondin 1 to childhood glaucoma.

Gene Co-Expression Database for Humans, Model Organisms Gets Update

GeneFriends has been updated to include gene and transcript co-expression networks based on RNA-seq data from 46,475 human and 34,322 mouse samples, a new paper in Nucleic Acids Research says.

New Study Investigates Genomics of Fanconi Anemia Repair Pathway in Cancer

A Rockefeller University team reports in Nature that FA repair deficiency leads to structural variants that can contribute to genomic instability.