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Invitrogen, Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, FluGen, Agilent Technologies, Broad Institute, University of Michigan-Business Engagement Center, Regulus Therapeutics, Stanford University, Japan Patent Office, Xennex, Synthetic Blood International, Virg

Invitrogen Inks Deal with WARF to Develop hESCs for Research Applications
Invitrogen said last week that it has licensed intellectual property from the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation that will enable it to develop research tools using human embryonic stem cells.
Under the terms of the agreement, WARF, the licensing organization for the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has granted Invitrogen the right to work with karyotypically normal hESCs to develop research and drug discovery tools.
Joydeep Goswami, vice president of stem cells and regenerative medicine at Invitrogen, said in a statement that the agreement will enable Invitrogen to develop research tools "such as more defined media and engineered stem cell lines."
WARF has now completed 24 licensing agreements for stem cell technologies with 18 companies.

WARF Licenses Flu Vaccine Tech to UW Spinout FluGen
The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation said last week that it has licensed an influenza vaccine manufacturing technology to FluGen, a recent spinout of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
WARF said that the new technology makes the cell-based production of influenza vaccines faster and less expensive by substantially increasing yield. This could lead to the need for smaller facilities and less time to produce the appropriate vaccines, which could be critical in the event of a global flu pandemic, WARF said.
FluGen is based on technology developed in the laboratories of Yoshihiro Kawaoka, a professor in the UW-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine, and Gabrielle Neumann, a virologist at UW-Madison.
Along with Kawaoka and Neumann, Paul Radspinner, a former WARF licensing manager and pharmaceutical executive, co-founded FluGen last year.
Currently based in Madison’s University Research Park, FluGen will collaborate with the new UW-Madison Influenza Research Institute, led by Kawaoka. FluGen has received more than $2 million in angel investments thus far, WARF said.

Agilent Licenses Genome Partitioning Tech from Broad Institute
Agilent Technologies has licensed from the Broad Institute genome partitioning technology that will aid in linking genes to diseases, Agilent said this week.
The company plans to use the technology to develop genome-partitioning kits that will incorporate the company’s Oligo Library Synthesis technology.
“We’re working on a simple, highly multiplexed, cost-effective way to enable investigators to remove the sample-preparation bottleneck in sequencing targeted regions of mammalian genomes, using relatively small amounts of input DNA,” Chad Nusbaum, co-director of the Genome Sequencing and Analysis Program at the Broad Institute, said in a statement.
Agilent said that it plans to offer kits containing custom mixtures of long biotinylated RNA molecules to capture five to 10 megabases of genomic DNA sample in a single tube. The method is based on the combination of the Agilent SurePrint platform and the licensed Broad protocols.
Financial terms of the agreement were not released.

UMich ‘Business Engagement Center’ Opens Doors
The University of Michigan will officially open its new Business Engagement Center this week, the university said.
The center will provide “one-stop shopping” for businesses seeking student talent, university expertise, professional development for employees, and research partnerships, UM said.
The BEC is jointly funded by the UM Office of the Vice President for Research and the Office of University Development.
The center also shares 17,000 square feet of space with the recently relocated UM Office of Technology Transfer in the Galleria Building at 1214 S. University Ave. The two offices will work together, UM said, to strengthen the school’s ties to business and community partners.
“The BEC will be able to provide tech transfer with the names of potential licensees and business partners,” Ken Nisbet, executive director of the UM OTT, said in a statement. “In return, our existing licensees and new startups can become future clients of the BEC.”

Regulus Licenses miRNA IP from Stanford University
Regulus Therapeutics, a joint venture between Alnylam Pharmaceuticals and Isis Pharmaceuticals, said last week that it has exclusively licensed from Stanford University worldwide patent applications covering methods and compositions for antagonizing microRNA-181a to regulate immune responses.
Regulus said that changes in miR-181a levels have been shown to modify the response of immune cells such as T lymphocytes to specific stimuli, and its antagonism could lead to a new way to treat inflammatory diseases.
Financial terms of the arrangement were not disclosed.
In November, Regulus said that the US Patent and Trademark Office has issued a notice of allowance for a patent application originally filed by Stanford University related to targeting miR-122 as a treatment for hepatitis C (see BTW, 11/26/2007). Regulus acquired the rights to that patent application when Alnylam and Isis co-exclusively licensed it and other miRNA-related IP from Stanford in 2005.
Alnylam and Isis exclusively licensed all their IP related to therapeutic uses of miRNAs to Regulus when the new company was formed last year.

Japan Patent Office Licenses Xennex Database
The Japan Patent Office has licensed Xennex’s genomic database for use in reviewing patent applications, the Cambridge, Mass.-based company said last week.
Under the license agreement, the JPO will use the Xennex GeneCards database, which includes mined genomic, proteomic, and transcriptomics information, and focuses on functional genomics and disease, to conduct prior art research to determine if an invention can be patented.
The JPO includes the departments of General Affairs, Examination, and Appeals, which together grant patent rights, draft plans for IP policies, manage international exchange and cooperation, conduct IP review, and disseminate IP information.
In addition, Xennex said that Bioscene Informatics will exclusively distribute GeneCards in Japan.
Financial terms of the agreements were not released.

Synthetic Blood Int’l Rents Virginia Biotech Park Space to Facilitate VCU Collaboration
Synthetic Blood International said last week that it has signed an agreement to lease space for a research office in the Virginia Biotechnology Park in Richmond.
The space will be used to coordinate research between the company and sponsored researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University’s Reanimation Engineering Shock Center.
A number of pre-clinical and clinical collaborative projects are underway, and others are being planned, using Oxycyte, SBI’s perfluorocarbon therapeutic oxygen carrier and blood substitute, SBI said.

Kraig Biocraft Labs Renews, Expands Research and Licensing Pact with Notre Dame
Kraig Biocraft Laboratories said last week that it has signed a renewal and expansion of its collaborative research and intellectual property agreement with the University of Notre Dame in the area of genetic engineering.
The agreement provides Kraig with exclusive licensing rights for the products and technology developed under the collaboration, and extends the company’s ongoing genetic engineering research and development program with Notre Dame professor Malcolm Fraser.
The company said that its primary focus will remain on the development of high-performance, high-tensile strength fibers for the textile market, but that the Notre Dame agreement will “open up new opportunities for Kraig to develop pharmaceutical and diagnostic applications for its genetic engineering technology.”
Kraig, based in Lansing, Mich., has already announced a pair of provisional patent applications in 2008 based on its research with the university in the area of human diagnostic technologies and new gene splicing technologies.

OCAST Awards $240K to Advance Trio of Techs from OSU Labs
The Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology has awarded more than $240,000 to three Oklahoma State University researchers under the Oklahoma Applied Research Support Program.
The OARS program backs projects with the potential for commercialization, OCAST said. Funding is awarded to Oklahoma businesses, universities, and non-profit organizations to accelerate technology development.
Yu Mao, professor in biosystems and agricultural engineering, received $90,000 for two years to develop a biosensor based on carbon nanotubes that will be able to detect objects such as DNA, nerve agents, and pesticides.
Other awardees include Janet Cole, professor of horticulture and landscape architecture, who received $67,000 over two years to investigate cooking oil waste products as organic fertilizers; and Hongbing Lu, professor in mechanical and aerospace engineering, who received $83,000 over two years to develop multifunctional composites for the interior panels of aircraft using crosslinked aerogels.

The Scan

Harvard Team Report One-Time Base Editing Treatment for Motor Neuron Disease in Mice

A base-editing approach restored SMN levels and improved motor function in a mouse model of spinal muscular atrophy, a new Science paper reports.

International Team Examines History of North American Horses

Genetic and other analyses presented in Science find that horses spread to the northern Rockies and Great Plains by the first half of the 17th century.

New Study Examines Genetic Dominance Within UK Biobank

Researchers analyze instances of genetic dominance within UK Biobank data, as they report in Science.

Cell Signaling Pathway Identified as Metastasis Suppressor

A new study in Nature homes in on the STING pathway as a suppressor of metastasis in a mouse model of lung cancer.