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BioFusion, University of Sheffield, Agios Pharmaceuticals, Oligomerix, Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation, Saint Louis University, Vivendy Therapeutics, International Stem Cell Corporation, Michigan State University, Olink, Uppsala University, Biométho

UK’s BioFusion Expands Sheffield Pact, Raises $4.2M, Changes Name
BioFusion, a UK-based company specializing in the commercialization of university technologies, said this week that it has expanded an existing 10-year exclusive agreement with the University of Sheffield to include IP in areas other than life sciences.
In addition, the company said that it has raised approximately £2.1 million ($4.2 million) through a private stock placement, and will change its name to Fusion IP “to reflect more accurately the group’s enlarged business.”
Based in Sheffield, BioFusion secures long-term exclusive commercialization agreements with universities, and in return, makes its university partners stakeholders in the company.
BioFusion’s first agreement was signed in 2005 with the University of Sheffield to commercialize all of its medical- and life sciences-related IP for 10 years while receiving initial ownership of 100 percent of all future portfolio companies resulting from commercialization activity.
In 2007, BioFusion signed a similar agreement with Cardiff University. In both cases, the academic institutions are given the opportunity to subscribe for typically 40 percent of the shares in portfolio companies, BioFusion said.

Agios Pharmaceuticals Closes $33M Series A Financing Round
Agios Pharmaceuticals has closed a $33 million Series A financing round to establish a product and biology platform to accelerate the development of a pipeline of drugs that regulate cancer metabolism, the company said this week.
Third Rock Ventures, Flagship Ventures, and ARCH Venture Partners co-led the round.
Agios was founded with seed financing from ARCH and Flagship, along with cancer metabolism experts Lewis Cantley, director of the Cancer Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and professor of systems biology at Harvard Medical School; Tak Mak, a researcher at the Campbell Family Institute for Cancer Research and the University of Toronto; and Craig Thompson, director of the Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania.
Agios said that it is developing a pipeline of drug candidates that disrupts the growth and survival of cancer by targeting three key metabolic pathways: glycolysis, fatty acid metabolism, and autophagy.
The company said that its platform will also be applicable to therapeutic areas such as obesity/diabetes, autoimmune disorders, inflammatory diseases, and neurological diseases.

ADDF Awards Oligomerix $100K for Drug-Discovery Research with Columbia, Dalhousie
Oligomerix this week said that it has received $100,000 in funding from the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation to support the company’s work in Alzheimer’s disease drug discovery.
Oligomerix will work in collaboration with Ottavio Arancio of the Columbia University Medical Center and Donald Weaver of Dalhousie University, both of whom are co-principal investigators on the program.
Specifically, the researchers will work together to select compounds using Alzheimer’s screening assays active against tau oligomers, and to evaluate those compounds in tauopathy mouse models.

Saint Louis U Licenses Enzyme Replacement Therapy IP to Vivendy
Saint Louis University has exclusively licensed patents covering enzyme replacement therapy to Swiss drug maker Vivendy Therapeutics, the Saint Louis University Office of Innovation and Intellectual Property said this week.
Under the agreement, Vivendy has exclusive rights to use SLU’s patents to research, develop, manufacture, market, sell, use the licensed products in the field of enzyme replacement therapy compositions for patients with mucopolysaccharidosis IVA, or MPS IVA.
Vivendy, based in Basel, is developing an enzyme-replacement therapy for MPS IVA, a rare lysosomal storage disease caused by the deficient activity of N-acetylgalactosamine-6-sulfatase, or GALNS.
The license agreement includes the right to grant a sublicense to third parties and the access to MPS IVA mouse models, monoclonal antibodies for GALNS, cell lines producing the modified GALNS enzyme, and know-how for the development of an enzyme replacement therapy for treating MPS IVA.
Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Int’l Stem Cell to Study Parthenogenetic Stem Cells with Michigan State Researcher
International Stem Cell Corporation this week announced a new collaboration with Michigan State University stem cell researcher Jose Cibelli in the area of parthenogenetic stem cells.
Under the agreement, Cibelli will study gene expression in several human parthenogenetic stem cell lines and compare the results with fertilized embryonic stem cells.
International Stem Cell has developed a process for creating human stem cells, called parthenogenetic stem cells, from unfertilized eggs. The company’s goal is to create a cell bank of clinical grade parthenogenetic stem cells for immediate use without having to isolate cells from a patient’s body or depend on cells from other living individuals.
Financial terms of the research collaboration were not disclosed.

Olink Teams with Uppsala University Researchers on New Biosensor Firm
Swedish firm Olink said this week that it has partnered with researchers from Uppsala University to form a new biosensor instrument manufacturing firm called Q-linea.
The new company will develop a rapid and sensitive instrument for detecting and analyzing infectious agents in the air and water. Olink said that the primary customer for the instrument is FMV, a Swedish defense material procurement agency.
The instrument is based on a technique developed by Uppsala University researchers for detecting single biomolecules and particles. Q-linea will develop the instrument, while Olink is responsible for developing reagents for the platform.

France’s Biométhodes Inks Licensing Option for Biofuel IP from Virginia Tech
French biotech firm Biométhodes has taken an exclusive, worldwide option from Virginia Tech Intellectual Properties to license multiple technologies for converting biomass to bioethanol and biohydrogen.
The process was invented by Percival Zhang, assistant professor of biological systems engineering in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech.
Biométhodes, based in Evry, and Virginia Tech said that they envision an integrated biorefinery pilot plant in Virginia to advance the process for converting biomass into ethanol and valuable co-products, focusing especially on biomass pre-treatment.
The process for transformation of biomass into hydrogen will be developed in France and will be validated through a biohydrogen fuel cell prototype and small-scale model car, Virginia Tech said.

The Scan

Study Tracks Responses in Patients Pursuing Polygenic Risk Score Profiling

Using interviews, researchers in the European Journal of Human Genetics qualitatively assess individuals' motivations for, and experiences with, direct-to-consumer polygenic risk score testing.

EHR Quality Improvement Study Detects Demographic-Related Deficiencies in Cancer Family History Data

In a retrospective analysis in JAMA Network Open, researchers find that sex, ethnicity, language, and other features coincide with the quality of cancer family history information in a patient's record.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease Linked to Gut Microbiome Community Structure Gradient in Meta-Analysis

Bringing together data from prior studies, researchers in Genome Biology track down microbial taxa and a population structure gradient with ties to ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease.

Ancient Greek Army Ancestry Highlights Mercenary Role in Historical Migrations

By profiling genomic patterns in 5th century samples from in and around Himera, researchers saw diverse ancestry in Greek army representatives in the region, as they report in PNAS.