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Fate Therapeutics Licenses Stem-Cell Modulators for Bone Regeneration from UCLA

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Stem cell therapeutics company Fate Therapeutics said today that it has acquired from the University of California, Los Angeles, exclusive intellectual property rights covering small molecule compositions and methods for inducing bone formation.

With the deal, UCLA becomes at least the eighth university or research institution from which Fate has licensed IP to bolster its portfolio of stem-cell modulators — small molecules and biologics to modulate cells for therapeutic purposes.

The small molecules, or osteogenic agents, were developed by Farhad Parhami, professor of medicine at UCLA, and Michael Jung, professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the school.

According to Fate, Parhami and Jung have demonstrated that the agents can regenerate bone tissue in vivo. Fate said that while many current therapeutics address bone deficiencies by preventing further decay, osteogenic agents instead stimulate positive bone growth and may improve the treatment of orthopedic conditions such as bone fractures and osteoporosis.

"Dr. Parhami and his research team have not only advanced the understanding of the biology around bone formation, but also identified and created small molecules that may be used to induce the differentiation of adult stem cells in the body for osteo-regenerative medicine," Paul Grayson, president and CEO of Fate Therapeutics, said in a statement.

"The potential of these small molecules has been confirmed in several different in vivo proof-of-concept studies, and we look forward to their continued preclinical development for bone generation," Grayson added.

Specific financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

UCLA is the first UC-affiliated campus with which Fate has disclosed an IP licensing deal. Under the UC system tech-transfer policy, the inventors would receive 35 percent of net licensing income from the deal; the UC system would receive 25 percent; and the UCLA campus 40 percent.

Fate, based in La Jolla, Calif., was founded in late 2007 by researchers from Harvard University, Stanford University, the University of Washington, Scripps Research Institute, and Mass General, and has also obtained licenses for myriad stem cell IP from each of those institutions (see BTW, 12/3/2007).

In late April, the company said it had also exclusively licensed IP from the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, an affiliate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, related to mechanisms for reprogramming fully mature adult stem cells to a stem-like state (see BTW, 3/4/2009).

And in May, Fate added to its portfolio IP from Children's Hospital Boston related to methods for modulating adult hematopoietic stem cells for therapeutic applications (see BTW, 5/20/2009).

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