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CleveX, Frankel Commercialization Fund, University of Michigan- Ross School of Business, Apthera, TGen Drug Development Services, Helicos, Uppsala University, SparkIP, Columbia University, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Leiden University, Lehigh U

Cleveland Clinic Spinout CleveX Raises Raises $1.4M in Financing
CleveX, a 2006 medical device spinout of the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, said this week that it has closed $1.4 million in equity financing to support the commercialization of tools for excising cancerous and non-cancerous skin lesions.
A group of Midwest US-based investors participated in the financing round, including lead investor Plymouth Venture Partners, and participants WPWIII Cap LP and the Esposito Group.
The company said the financing will help it fully commercialize ExiClip, its lead technology. ExiClip is a surgical tool that excises skin lesions and closes the site more efficiently than typical scalpel and suture procedures, the company said.
ExiClip received 510(k) regulatory clearance by the US Food and Drug Administration in May 2007. CleveX said that it will initiate a pilot launch of the product in September, and is seeking an additional $400,000 to close the financing round.

UM Student-Managed VC Fund Invests $90,500 in Surgimatix
The Frankel Commercialization Fund, a student-managed venture capital seed fund at the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business, has invested $90,500 in Surgimatix, an Ann Arbor-based company developing a new suturing approach for the health care market.
Surgimatix was founded by Jafar Hasan, a surgeon from the University of Michigan Hospital and graduate of U-M's joint MD/MBA program. The company has developed a wound-closure device that combines the convenience of a surgical stapler with the aesthetic and closure strength benefits of manual sutures, thereby decreasing the time of surgery, saving operation cost, and reducing scarring for patients.
The company said it intends to utilize the Frankel Fund seed money to fund pre- clinical testing, refine the clinical scale prototype design, and develop the resorbable fastener for the device.
This marks the Frankel fund's third investment in the last year and the first in a health care company. The student venture capital fund was formed to help accelerate commercialization of technology and the formation of companies at UM, and complements other entrepreneurial and VC programs, including the $3.5 million Wolverine Venture Fund, a student-led VC fund that invests in early stage companies and is sponsored by the University's Zell Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies.
The fund is organized into student teams that function as independently financed venture capital companies providing seed or pre-seed investments. Each student team reports to a board of directors composed of venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, industry experts, and CEOs, who provide additional mentoring and learning opportunities for the Ross School students.

Apthera Taps TGen Drug Development Services to Prepare Breast Cancer Drug for Phase III Trials
Apthera, a Scottsdale, Arizona-based biotechnology company focused on cancer immunotherapy, this week announced that it has signed a Master Services Agreement with TGen Drug Development Services.
TGen Drug Development Services, or TD2, will provide drug-development and regulatory services related to the clinical development of NeuVax, Apthera's lead immunotherapy drug for treating early-stage, lymph-node-positive breast cancer that contains the HER2 oncogene. Apthera is currently preparing NeuVax for international Phase III clinical trials.
TD2, located in the Mayo Collaborative Research Building in Scottsdale, Arizona, is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Translational Genomics Research Institute. TD2 provides a range of services for oncology-focused biopharmaceutical companies.
Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Helicos Inks Alliance with Uppsala University for Gene Expression Studies
Helicos said this week that it has signed a scientific collaboration with Sweden’s Uppsala University in which university researchers will use Helicos’ single-molecule sequencing technology to study changes in the cell nucleus that occur in the presence of growth factors.
Helicos said the researchers would study changes in the structure of the protein-DNA complexes that make up chromosomes and how they interact with transcription factors that bind DNA, which may “provide a more complete understanding of how structural features of the genome affect gene expression.”
The Uppsala team, led by Claes Wadelius, will use Helicos’ True Single Molecule Sequencing technology as part of the study.
Additional terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

SparkIP Adds Technologies from Five New Institutions to IP Database
SparkIP last week announced that it has added technologies available for licensing from five new academic institutions, bringing the total to 8,350 technologies from 33 research institutions available in its online database.
The new contributors to SparkIP’s database are Columbia University, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Leiden University, Lehigh University, and the University of Tennessee Research Foundation.
Founded in October 2007, Atlanta-based SparkIP offers research tools, an IP marketplace represented by visual “spark” clusters, and an online community to connect IP sellers and buyers.

Senate Committee Approves 14-Year Extension for SBIR/STTR Program
A US Senate committee last week unanimously passed a bill that would extend by 14 years two federal programs that provide research funding for small businesses.
The bill, the SBIR/STTR Reauthorization Act of 2008 (S. 3362), will now move to the full Senate after the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship passed it.
The Small Business Innovation Research and the Small Business Technology Transfer programs, which were instituted in 1982 and are scheduled to “sunset” in September, would be extended under the bill through 2022 and 2023, respectively.
The House of Representatives passed a version of the bill (H.R. 5819) in late April. Since then, the Senate committee has been working on a compromise regarding the eligibility of small businesses that are majority-owned by venture capital firms.
The Senate committee agreed on a compromise that allows the National Institutes of Health to award up to 18 percent of its SBIR funds to these VC-backed companies, and the other 10 SBIR agencies to award up to 8 percent of their SBIR funds to these firms.
The bill has retained language from the House version (H.R. 5819) that excluded businesses with over 500 employees from the SBIR/STTR program.
The National Small Business Association said in a statement that although the compromise is “not ideal for the small-business community,” the Senate bill improves upon the House version, which “would have allowed unfettered SBIR access to VC-controlled firms.”
The Senate bill would raise SBIR and STTR award sizes from their current level of $100,000 for Phase I grants and $750,000 for Phase II grants to $150,000 and $1 million, respectively. This is also a departure from the House bill, which called for $300,000 for Phase I grants and $2.2 million for Phase II awards.
Federal agencies having an extramural yearly budget over $100 million will continue to be required to allocate 2.5 percent of their extramural research and development funds to the SBIR program under the legislation.
The committee said that approximately one out of four projects that are funded by the SBIR program result in new commercial products or processes.
The bill will now wait for review by the full Senate, and if it passes there it would be returned to the House where the changes would be considered.

Versant Ventures Closes $500M Fund for Early-Stage Biomed Investments
Versant Ventures, an early-stage healthcare venture capital firm, last week said that it has closed a $500 million Versant Venture Capital IV fund.
The firm now has more than $1.6 billion and 75 portfolio companies under management in the biotechnology, pharmaceutical, and medical device sectors.
Versant IV will target approximately 30 to 35 medical device, biotech, and pharmaceutical investments throughout the US. The fund will focus primarily on early-stage and seed opportunities, but may also target later-stage companies.
Versant’s two primary offices are in Menlo Park and Newport Beach, California.

Cancer Research Technology Licenses Colorectal Cancer Test to ArcticDx
Cancer Research Technology Limited, a UK-based oncology-focused development and commercialization firm, has granted a non-exclusive license to ArcticDx for the rights to develop a Colo RiskT test to determine an individual’s predisposition for developing colorectal cancer.
As part of the licensing deal, CRT will receive an upfront payment and royalties on any future sales.
The agreement allows for some results from Cancer Research UK-funded genome-wide association studies to be integrated into the colorectal cancer test. Specifically, the studies were the first to identify a number of single-nucleotide polymorphisms that increase bowel cancer risk.
CRT is a wholly-owned subsidiary of CRUK, the largest independent funder of cancer research in the world. CRT works with CRUK and leading international cancer institutions to protect intellectual property, establish links with commercial partner, and provide commercialization assistance.

FEI to Sell Max Planck's Electron Microscope Imaging Technology
Imaging and analysis systems developer FEI will market and distribute a system for acquiring electron microscope images that was developed by the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, the organizations said this week.
FEI said that it expects to begin selling the system, which includes a cryo-correlative stage for optical microscopes and associated software, sometime in the fourth quarter of 2008.
The technology is designed to acquire high-resolution transmission electron microscope images of molecular entities found using optical microscopy techniques.
MPI and FEI also will implement a program that will involve working with life science researchers to continue to define new applications and methods for correlative microscopy. By participating in that program, the company said, these researchers will have access to a correlative stage allowing extended use of the solution in their own ongoing research programs.

The Scan

Single-Cell Sequencing Points to Embryo Mosaicism

Mosaicism may affect preimplantation genetic tests for aneuploidy, a single-cell sequencing-based analysis of almost three dozen embryos in PLOS Genetics finds.

Rett Syndrome Mouse Model Study Points to RNA Editing Possibilities

Investigators targeted MECP2 in mutant mouse models of Rett syndrome, showing in PNAS that they could restore its expression and dial down symptoms.

Investigators Find Shared, Distinct Genetic Contributors to Childhood Hodgkin Lymphoma

An association study in JAMA Network Open uncovers risk variants within and beyond the human leukocyte antigen locus.

Transcriptomic, Epigenetic Study Appears to Explain Anti-Viral Effects of TB Vaccine

Researchers report in Science Advances on an interferon signature and long-term shifts in monocyte cell DNA methylation in Bacille Calmette-Guérin-vaccinated infant samples.