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Baylor, VGX Pharma, Ichor Medical Systems, Sage-N Research, Thermo Fisher, Stemina, Cornell University, Gene Network Sciences, Kinetic Concepts, Samaritan Pharmaceuticals, Marcadia Biotech

Baylor Licenses Hormone IP to VGX Pharma for Use in DNA Therapeutics
VGX Pharma last week said that it has signed a license agreement with the Baylor College of Medicine covering a broad range of growth hormone-releasing hormone and related intellectual property for application in humans.
Under the terms of the agreement, VGX will have exclusive worldwide rights to develop the technology for a number of indications including cachexia, or wasting, in cancer and HIV patients, as well as age-related disorders.
The new agreement broadens an existing relationship between VGX and Baylor, as VGX recently acquired Advisys, a BCM spinout company focused on veterinary applications of the GHRH technology.
The technology was developed in the laboratories of Robert Schwartz, Ruxandra Draghia-Akli, and others during their time at Baylor. The researchers co-founded Advisys, and Draghia-Akli is currently VGX’s vice president of research for immune therapeutics.
“The licensed technology will augment our growing early-stage pipeline of DNA-based therapeutics and vaccines being developed at the VGX immune therapeutics division,” Joseph Kim, president and CEO of VGX, said in a statement. “The development of GHRH as a potential treatment to combat wasting associated with these diseases may represent and important step in the management of the disease.”
Financial terms of the new agreement were not disclosed.

Ichor Medical Systems to Begin Phase I Trials of MSKCC-Developed DNA Vaccine
Ichor Medical Systems last week said that it has received approval from the US Food and Drug Administration to conduct a Phase I clinical trial of a melanoma vaccine developed by Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center scientists.
The vaccine, which consists of DNA encoding a form of the tyrosinase protein, will be administered to patients using the Ichor TriGrid Delivery System, which uses electroporation to increase the intracellular delivery of the DNA vaccine to cells at the site of administration.
MSKCC has started enrolling patients with stage IIB to IV malignant melanoma for the two-year trial period.

Sage-N Sublicenses Rights to UW Proteomic Search Engine from Thermo Fisher
Sage-N Research has been granted a sublicense from Thermo Fisher Scientific to sell SEQUEST search engine products worldwide, the companies said last week.
The agreement allows Sage-N to develop and sell products using the proteomic search engine technology, which was developed at the University of Washington. Sage-N and Thermo are the only companies licensed by UW to commercialize SEQUEST technology, which is protected by US Patent No. 5,538,897 covering all proteomic search engines.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

UW-Madison Spinout Stemina Wins $1M from State of Wisconsin
Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle this month authorized a $1 million award to University of Wisconsin-Madison spinout Stemina to further the development of its stem cell-based drug screening technology.
Doyle announced the award during a visit to the lab of Gabriela Cezar, an assistant professor of animal sciences at UW-Madison, whose research on embryonic stem cells serves as the basis for Stemina’s drug-discovery platform.
Cezar’s work has been patented by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, which has licensed the technology back to Stemina.
Elizabeth Donley, Stemina’s CEO, said in a statement that the company is recruiting scientists and finalizing a deal for additional laboratory space.

Cornell and GNS Receive Joint Award from US Army to Build –Omics Database
Cornell University and Gene Network Sciences have been selected to receive a grant for an undisclosed amount from the US Department of the Army to build computational models of Dehalococcoides, a type of bacteria used to dechlorinate toxic pollutants.
Cornell professors Ruth Richardson, Stephen Zinder, and James Gossett, along with GNS principal investigator Bruce Church, will lead the joint team to conduct experiments to generate gene expression, proteomics, and other molecular-level data from Dehalococcoides subjected to various conditions.
GNS will use its reverse engineering and forward simulation software to help guide experimental design.

KCI Announces Issuance of New Wound Therapy Patent, Sues Companies for Infringement
Kinetic Concepts last week said that Wake Forest University has been awarded a continuation patent, US No. 7,216,651, relating to KCI’s VAC technology.
The patent is exclusively licensed to KCI, and further broadens the IP surrounding its negative pressure wound therapy.
In addition, KCI announced that it has filed a patent infringement suit against Smith & Nephew and BlueSky Medical for the manufacture, use, and sale of negative pressure devices that infringe the newly issued patent. KCI also filed an infringement suit against Medela for infringement of the same patent.
Both cases have been filed in the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.

Georgetown Awarded Breast Cancer Diagnostic Patent Exclusively Licensed to Samaritan
Samaritan Pharmaceuticals has received notice that the US patent entitled “Peripheral-type benzodiazepine receptor: A tool for detection, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer,” was formally allowed by the US Patent and Trademark Office.
The patent has been awarded to Georgetown University, which exclusively licenses the IP to Samaritan.
Samaritan’s diagnostic kit comprises antibodies against PBR suitable for detecting the presence of an aggressive breast cancer tumor. The patent’s claims are related to a biopsy test, Samaritan said.

Marcadia Closes $15M Financing Round to Develop IU-Licensed Therapeutics
Marcadia Biotech last week announced the completion of a $15 million Series A venture financing to further its development of diabetes and obesity biopharmaceuticals.
Marcadia announced in November that it had signed a licensing agreement with the Indiana University Research and Technology Corporation giving it the rights to develop and market certain drug candidates in the therapeutic area of metabolic diseases. The company also has signed a sponsored research agreement with Indiana University related to development of the therapeutics.
Frazier Healthcare Ventures and founding investor 5AM Ventures co-led the financing round. Joining them was founding investor Twilight Venture Partners.
In connection with the financing, Patrick Heron, general partner of Frazier Healthcare Ventures, joined Marcadia Biotech’s board of directors.

The Scan

Harvard Team Report One-Time Base Editing Treatment for Motor Neuron Disease in Mice

A base-editing approach restored SMN levels and improved motor function in a mouse model of spinal muscular atrophy, a new Science paper reports.

International Team Examines History of North American Horses

Genetic and other analyses presented in Science find that horses spread to the northern Rockies and Great Plains by the first half of the 17th century.

New Study Examines Genetic Dominance Within UK Biobank

Researchers analyze instances of genetic dominance within UK Biobank data, as they report in Science.

Cell Signaling Pathway Identified as Metastasis Suppressor

A new study in Nature homes in on the STING pathway as a suppressor of metastasis in a mouse model of lung cancer.