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Iowa State University, Orexigen Therapeutics, OHSU, TechTown Venture Fund, Wayne State University, Tissera, Weizmann Institute

Iowa State University Sues Monsanto Over Alleged Soybean IP Infringement
The Iowa State Research Foundation has filed suit against Monsanto over alleged patent infringement on soybeans used in trans-fat-free cooking oils, the foundation said last month.
The lawsuit was filed in May in US District Court in Des Moines, Iowa, and contends that Monsanto failed to obtain a technology license from the foundation before marketing its Vistive brand soybeans, which allegedly have the same low-fat characteristics as those developed by two Iowa State professors.
According to the foundation, professors Walter Fehr and Earl Hammond hold several US patents to the soybeans, which are distinguished by their relatively low linolenic acid content.
The foundation is seeking an injunction and monetary damages.
“We did not use any material from ISU and did not infringe upon any of ISU’s patents,” Monsanto said in a statement. “When we learned there was a dispute, to avoid litigation, we worked to resolve the issue, since we have had a long, productive relationship with Iowa State University.”

OHSU-Duke Spinoff Orexigen Goes Public
Orexigen Therapeutics, a spinoff company based in part on research findings at Oregon Health and Science University, recently completed its initial public offering, OHSU said last week.
According to OHSU, Orexigen offered 8.05 million shares of common stock at the IPO price of $12 per share. The shares are being traded on the Nasdaq Global Market under the ticker symbol “OREX.”
Orexigen is a biopharmaceutical company developing pharmaceuticals for treating central nervous system disorders, with an initial focus on obesity. Michael Cowley, a scientist at the OHSU Oregon National Primate Research Center, is co-founder of the San Diego-based company and serves as its chief scientific officer.
Cowley and colleagues at Duke University made several discoveries demonstrating the brain’s role in weight regulation and the biological controls in the brain that affect weight gain and loss, OHSU said. Orexigen was founded in 2002 based upon these findings.

Detroit-Based VC Fund Established to Finance Wayne State Spinoffs
A new Detroit-based venture capital fund called TechTown Venture Fund has been established in partnership with Wayne State University to focus on early-stage WSU spin-offs and tenant companies of the TechTown business incubator and technology park, Crain’s Detroit Business reported last week.
The VC fund will begin fundraising in June and hopes to raise a minimum of $10 million in the next six months, eventually targeting a maximum of between $20 million and $30 million.
Wayne State likely will have a financial stake in the fund, but details have yet to be worked out, CDB reported.
Joseph Alam, chairman of Mid-States Capital, will run the fund.

Tissera Extends Sponsored Research Pact with Weizmann Institute
Tissera last week said that it has signed an agreement with Yeda, the technology transfer arm of the Weizmann Institute of Science, to extend by one year the research and development activities performed for the company.
According to Tissera, this will be the fifth consecutive year of sponsored research at the Weizmann Institute. The main objective of the research is to further advance the ongoing preclinical studies being performed on primate models of type I diabetes mellitus as a preparation for human clinical studies, Tissera said.
Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
Tissera is based in Herzliya, Israel, and has worldwide rights from the Weizmann Institute to tissue precursor regeneration technology for treating gene deficiencies.

The Scan

Self-Reported Hearing Loss in Older Adults Begins Very Early in Life, Study Says

A JAMA Otolaryngology — Head & Neck Surgery study says polygenic risk scores associated with hearing loss in older adults is also associated with hearing decline in younger groups.

Genome-Wide Analysis Sheds Light on Genetics of ADHD

A genome-wide association study meta-analysis of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder appearing in Nature Genetics links 76 genes to risk of having the disorder.

MicroRNA Cotargeting Linked to Lupus

A mouse-based study appearing in BMC Biology implicates two microRNAs with overlapping target sites in lupus.

Enzyme Involved in Lipid Metabolism Linked to Mutational Signatures

In Nature Genetics, a Wellcome Sanger Institute-led team found that APOBEC1 may contribute to the development of the SBS2 and SBS13 mutational signatures in the small intestine.