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InteRNA Technologies, VU University Medical Center, Source MDx, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, SeraCare Life Sciences, Sacred Heart Medical Center & Children’s Hospital, USPTO, IP5, Bucknell University, Geisinger Health System, Business Alliance of George

InteRNA, VU University Med Center to Co-Develop miRNA-Based Cancer Rx, Dx
InteRNA Technologies, based in the Netherlands, said last week that it has signed a research agreement with the VU University Medical Center to develop microRNA-based diagnostics and therapeutics for cancer.
According to the company, it will use its lentiviral-based miRNA over-expression library in multi-parametric, high-throughput screening assays to identify the biological role of individual miRNAs and novel therapeutic targets in leukemia, colon, prostate, and head and neck cancer.
In addition, the organizations said that “diagnostic miRNA profiles will be developed through next-generation sequencing, in combination with InteRNA’s proprietary small RNA bioinformatics pipeline … on diverse patient sample sets” provided by the medical center.
Specific terms of the arrangement were not disclosed.

Source MDx, Brigham and Women's Partner on MS Biomarker Discovery
Source MDx has formed a partnership with Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital to study RNA-based biomarkers for multiple sclerosis, the company announced this week.
The duo plans to use expression profiling to find diagnostic markers, markers for active or stable MS, and response markers for currently available MS therapies.
The research ties into ongoing work by Brigham and Women’s researchers Phil De Jager and David Hafler, and others in the International Multiple Sclerosis Genetics Consortium and Partners Healthcare MS Center.
Source MDx said that it has patented the use of gene expression data for identifying, monitoring, and treating MS. The company added that it has identified and patented MS gene expression biomarkers linked to MS in independent studies by De Jager and Hafler.
“Our objective is to evaluate RNA-based markers in the broader context of each patient’s genetics, protein markers, family history, and clinical information in order to determine markers that can help in making a diagnosis of MS and prognosticate on drug response in MS,” De Jager said in a statement.
“By doing so, we hope to be better able to identify makers that could lead to improved diagnostic tools, therapies, or treatment regimen,” De Jager added.

SeraCare Licenses Genetic Testing Controls for CF from Sacred Heart Med Center and Children’s Hopsital
SeraCare Life Sciences last week said that it has licensed exclusive rights from Sacred Heart Medical Center & Children’s Hospital in Spokane, Wash, to controls for genetic testing including screening for cystic fibrosis and for diseases common among Ashkenazi Jews.
SeraCare, based in Milford, Mass., announced the licensing deal concurrent with the launch of its new genetic testing controls business line. This business line initially includes controls for warfarin sensitivity testing and thrombophilia testing, which were developed internally by SeraCare.
“In the coming months, we will continue to make key additions to the genetic controls product portfolio as this business line plays an important role in the company’s near-term growth strategy and future profitability,” SeraCare President and CEO Susan Vogt said in a statement.
Financial terms of the licensing agreement were not disclosed.

USPTO Joins IP Offices from Four Nations in Work-Sharing Pact; Inks Agreement with Danish Patent Office
The US Patent and Trademark Office last week announced the development of a blueprint for work sharing among five major international intellectual property offices to address the common challenges they are currently facing.
The heads of the initiative, called IP5, met in Jeju, Korea on Oct. 27-28 to discuss a shared vision for work sharing and collaboration.
The meeting was chaired by Jung-Sik Koh, commissioner of the Korean Intellectual Property Office. Also attending were Alison Brimelow, president of the European Patent Office; Takashi Suzuki, commissioner of the Japan Patent Office; Tian Lipu, commissioner of the State Intellectual Property Office of the People's Republic of China; and Jon Dudas, under secretary of commerce for intellectual property and director of the USPTO.
The offices established a cooperative framework of 10 foundation projects devised to “harmonize the search and examination environment of each office and to standardize the information-sharing process,” the USPTO said in a statement.
The projects are expected to “facilitate the work-sharing initiative by enhancing the quality of patent searches and examinations and building mutual trust in each other’s work,” the USPTO said.
Each office will oversee the implementation of two projects. For the first step, the offices agreed that by the end of April 2009 they would exchange detailed proposals on each foundation project and strive to identify the areas of agreement as well as specific details of implementation, the USPTO said.
Separately, the USPTO said this week that it intends to launch a new trial cooperation initiative called the Patent Prosecution Highway with the Danish Patent and Trademark Office.
The initiative will leverage fast-track patent examination procedures already available in both offices to allow applicants to obtain corresponding patents faster and more efficiently, the USPTO said.
The agreement will also permit each office to exploit work previously done by the other office and reduce duplication.
Under the program, an applicant whose application filed with either the DKPTO or USPTO contains at least one allowable claim may request that the other office fast-track the examination of corresponding claims in corresponding applications.
The trial period will be set for one year to gauge the interest of applicants to see whether the program improves quality and efficiency and reduces workload at each office.
The USPTO in April announced it had inked similar Patent Prosecution Highway agreements with the Australian Patent Office and the EPO.

Bucknell and Geisinger Health System Share $71K Matching Grant to Develop Med Techs
Bucknell University said last week that it will share a $71,000 matching grant with Geisinger Health System to support collaborative medical technology research and development efforts.
Bucknell’s department of biomedical engineering will share the state-funded Keystone Innovation Grant with Geisinger in a partnership supported by the Bucknell Small Business Development Center.
The grant will specifically provide funding for hiring a doctoral-level staff member to facilitate cross-institutional research and tech-development efforts, and will provide seed capital for specific projects, with priority given to Bucknell biomedical senior design projects. At least five such projects are expected for 2008-2009, Bucknell said.
The partnership has already spurred the development of an enhanced drug-injection device for use in emergency response, yielded two patents, helped create a prototype, and stimulated licensing discussions with an unnamed commercial firm, the school said.

George Mason U Biz Alliance Announces Showcase for Mid-Atlantic University, Government Techs
The Business Alliance of George Mason University this week announced the second annual Mid-Atlantic Innovation Showcase on Nov. 14 at the McLean Hilton in Tyson’s Corner, Va.
The event will feature exhibits and speakers sharing the latest research with commericial licensing or spin-out opportunities from more than 20 universities and federal labs throughout the mid-Atlantic region.
The showcase will match innovations and research in IT/defense, biotechnology, clean tech, materials, and life sciences from regional academic institutions and federal labs with potential investors and entrepreneurs.
Participating institutions include: George Mason University; the College of William and Mary; Eastern VA Medical School; Federal Labs Consortium; George Washington University; Hampton University; Hampton Roads Research Partnership; the Institute for Advanced Learning & Research at James Madison University; James Madison University; Johns Hopkins University; Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory; MTECH; NASA Goddard Space Flight Center; NASA Langley; Naval Research Laboratory; Old Dominion University; University of Maryland, Baltimore; US Army Medical Technology Transfer; University of Maryland; University of Virginia; USDA-ARS-OTT; Virginia Commonwealth University; and Virginia Tech.
Sponsors of the showcase include: Squire, Sanders, & Dempsey; Fairfax County Economic Development Authority; Latimer, Mayberry & Matthews; LUNA Innovations; Miles & Stockbridge; Red Shift Ventures; Parabon Computation; r2i Integrated; Scheer Partners; SRA International; Townsend and Townsend and Crew; University of Virginia; Washington Business Journal; China Telecom Americas; InnovateTech Ventures; Lockheed Martin; Media Force PR; MITRE; and Potomac Tech Wire.
Interested parties may register by visiting the Business Alliance of George Mason University website.

The Scan

Drug Response Variants May Be Distinct in Somatic, Germline Samples

Based on variants from across 21 drug response genes, researchers in The Pharmacogenomics Journal suspect that tumor-only DNA sequences may miss drug response clues found in the germline.

Breast Cancer Risk Gene Candidates Found by Multi-Ancestry Low-Frequency Variant Analysis

Researchers narrowed in on new and known risk gene candidates with variant profiles for almost 83,500 individuals with breast cancer and 59,199 unaffected controls in Genome Medicine.

Health-Related Quality of Life Gets Boost After Microbiome-Based Treatment for Recurrent C. Diff

A secondary analysis of Phase 3 clinical trial data in JAMA Network Open suggests an investigational oral microbiome-based drug may lead to enhanced quality of life measures.

Study Follows Consequences of Early Confirmatory Trials for Accelerated Approval Indications

Time to traditional approval or withdrawal was shorter when confirmatory trials started prior to accelerated approval, though overall regulatory outcomes remained similar, a JAMA study finds.