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Harvard Medical School, Merck, University of Washington, Alimera Sciences, Emory University, Third Rock Ventures, High Throughput Genomics, UCSD

Harvard Med and Merck Ink Pact for Oncology, CNS Drug Discovery
Harvard Medical School’s Office of Technology Development said last week that it has inked a cooperative research agreement with Merck in the areas of oncology and central nervous system disorders.
According to the Harvard OTD, the collaboration includes the funding of six Harvard Medical School laboratories, the members of which will work closely with scientists from Merck Research Laboratories in Boston.
Harvard said that it anticipates that all findings resulting from the collaborative research effort will be submitted to peer-reviewed journals for publication.
Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.

University of Washington Reports Spike in FY ’07 Licensing Activity
UW TechTransfer, the technology commercialization arm of the University of Washington, last week announced an increase in overall commercialization activity in fiscal year 2007 from the previous year.
UW researchers, faculty, and staff reported 335 invention disclosures in 2007, ended June 30 – an 8 percent increase over 310 disclosures in 2006.
The university also reported that patent applications increased 10 percent to 166 from 151 in the prior year, and that the number of licensing agreements rose 29 percent to 198 from 153 in 2006.
UW also spun out 11 new companies in 2007, one better than the 10 companies it spun out in 2006.
UW TechTransfer did not report its revenues for 2007. The office said that it generated approximately $23.5 million in total revenue from all sources in 2006.
Notable life sciences-related spinouts in 2007 included:
  • Cirrus Biosystems, which is developing a hands-free workstation to decontaminate animal cages in specific pathogen-free environments.
  • CorazonX, developing ultrasound technology to detect the presence of arterial plaques.
  • Pfemtoquest, developing a biochip for cancer cell detection and prognosis.
  • PhaseRx, developing polymer-based drug-delivery technology.
  • Polgenix, developing instrumentation for real-time, in vivo imaging of the eye’s functional components
  • Ratner Biomedical Group, a development company pursuing startup opportunities based on UW biomaterial technologies.

Emory Licenses Antioxidant Compounds to Local Firm Alimera
Alimera Sciences has taken an exclusive option to license a class of antioxidant compounds for the treatment of ophthalmic diseases from Emory University, the company said last week.
Under the terms of the agreement, Alimera, located in Atlanta, has the option to license NADPH oxidase inhibitors as a potential treatment for conditions such as dry age-related macular degeneration, in particular the late stage of the disease, known as geographic atrophy.
If the option is exercised, Alimera will hold an exclusive worldwide license for the NADPH oxidase inhibitors for ophthalmic indications, as well as the exclusive right to sublicense the technology and an exclusive option to develop the compounds for non-ophthalomic indications.
Alimera will be responsible for development and commercialization of the compounds, and Emory will receive milestone payments and royalties from net sales.
Further financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Life Sciences VC Firm Third Rock Debuts with $378M Fund
Third Rock Ventures, a Boston-based life sciences venture capital firm, last week announced the launch of a $378 million first fund for investing in early-stage life sciences firms.
The VC firm said that it will use the committed capital to fund and launch innovative biotech and medical device companies, specifically companies with product engines, or technologies that are capable of creating products in multiple disease areas.
Third Rock’s partners include Mark Levin, founder and former CEO of Millennium Pharmaceuticals; Kevin Starr, director of several current biotech companies and former COO/CFO of Millennium; Robert Tepper, previous head of R&D and CSO of Millennium; Lou Tartaglia; Nick Leschly; and Anne-Mari Paster, former CFO of venture firm MPM Capital.

High Throughput Genomics, UCSD Team on Diabetes Gene Studies
High Throughput Genomics said last week that it will collaborate with the University of California, San Diego, to generate arrays from mouse tissue samples and from cell lysates to evaluate genes tied to inflammation and insulin production.
Under the agreement, HTG will work with the UCSD Department of Medicine's Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism to study how insulin resistance and inflammation function in diabetes.
The agreement also calls for HTG to provide its ArrayPlate lysis-only quantitative Nuclease Protection Assay technology, or qNPA, platform, which the company said allows researchers to test any sample, including fixed tissues, without extraction or target amplification.
Jerry Olefsky, a professor of medicine at UCSD, is lead researcher on the project.

The Scan

Tens of Millions Saved

The Associated Press writes that vaccines against COVID-19 saved an estimated 20 million lives in their first year.

Supersized Bacterium

NPR reports that researchers have found and characterized a bacterium that is visible to the naked eye.

Also Subvariants

Moderna says its bivalent SARS-CoV-2 vaccine leads to a strong immune response against Omicron subvariants, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Science Papers Present Gene-Edited Mouse Models of Liver Cancer, Hürthle Cell Carcinoma Analysis

In Science this week: a collection of mouse models of primary liver cancer, and more.