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MIT-Deshpande Center; Stem Cell Sciences and San Raffaele; PLSG and Innovention Tech; Cardium Thera and UTHSC; Harvard and BASF; Xenomis and Harvard; Battelle and AURP

MIT’s Deshpande Center Awards $1M in ‘Ignition’ Grants
The Deshpande Center for Technological Innovations at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology last week announced $1,030,000 in grants to 10 MIT research teams currently developing emerging technologies.
Among the fall 2007 grant recipients are:
  • Yet-Ming Chiang, for a portable, continuous drug-delivery device to assist patients with chronic illnesses
  • Utkan Demirci, for a disposable CD-4 T-lymphocyte-counting microchip for on-site HIV monitoring
  • Elazer Edelman, for a means of safely administering peri-operative drugs to heart-failure patients
  • Gerald Fink, for a compound to stimulate a more powerful immune response to specific monoclonal antibodies
  • Jefferson Tester, for technology to enable the production of propane from biomass
  • Ioannis Yannas and Francois Berthiaume, for skin substitutes designed to accelerate blood vessel growth, improve wound and burn healing, and reduce infection risk
The Deshpande Center did not specify individual award amounts.
Each spring and fall, the Deshpande Center awards ignition grants and innovation grants to enable proof-of-concept studies for MIT technologies. Since 2002, it has funded 68 MIT research projects with approximately $8 million in grants. Eleven of the projects have spun out of the center as independent startup companies, MIT said.

Stem Cell Sciences Licenses Stem Cell Line from Italy’s San Raffaele Institute
Stem Cell Sciences last week announced that it has exclusively licensed a human muscle stem cell line from the San Raffaele Institute in Milan, Italy.
The line, developed by Giulio Cossu, director of San Raffaele’s stem cell research institute, will enable SCS to produce the cells at its automated cell-production facility in Cambridge, UK, SCS Chief Science Officer Tim Allsopp told BTW sister publication Cell-Based Assay News last week.
According to the terms of the licensing deal, SCS has the right to develop the stem cells for drug discovery and toxicology applications, but cannot use the cells, which are a subset of pericytes, to develop human cell-based therapeutics. Cossu and the San Raffaele Institute retain the right to decide who may work with them in the future to develop pericyte-based therapies.
If during the evaluation period SCS is able to culture the cells and grow them into muscle cells, and also validate the assays, the company will consider exercising its exclusive option to take a full license to commercialize the cells, a company official told CBA News.
Allsopp said SCS will also conduct a market analysis to identify potential customers for the muscle cell-based assays.

PLSG Invests $115K in Carnegie Mellon Spinout Innovention Tech
The Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse last week announced a $115,000 investment in Innovention Technologies, a developmental-stage medical device company spun out from Carnegie Mellon University.
Innovation Technologies will use the investment to help develop and commercialize a highly maneuverable surgical probe that is expected to alleviate existing limitations of endoscopic devices used in minimally invasive surgery.

Caridum Thera Subsidiary InnerCool Licenses Stroke Compound from UTHSC
Cardium Therapeutics and subsidiary InnerCool Therapies announced last week that they have entered into an exclusive license agreement with the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston for the clinical research, development, and commercialization of caffeinol as a potential therapeutic for acute ischemic stroke patients.
Cardium and UTHSC did not disclose financial details of the licensing agreement.
One of the objectives of the agreement it to evaluate the safety and efficacy of treating stroke patients with caffeinol, administered intravenously, in combination with InnerCool’s endovascular hypothermia technology.
Cardium said that it has applied for a grant to fund the project with the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

Harvard, BASF Strike Deal for Advanced Research Institute
Harvard University’s Office of Technology Development and BASF last week announced an agreement to jointly establish the BASF Advanced Research Institute at Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
The initiative, which Harvard said will have ties with departments and schools throughout the university, will be set up as a “fully collaborative, integrated partnership” among Harvard and BASF researchers.
BASF will provide direct funding to Harvard researchers, and will initially support 10 postdoctoral students. Total funding over the next five years is anticipated to be as much as $20 million.
The institute researchers will pursue projects in areas including applied physics, physics, applied mathematics, chemical biology, systems biology, bioengineering, and materials science.
If proof of concept established in a research project, BASF will have the opportunity to further develop discoveries for possible commercialization.

Neutraceutical Firm Xenomis Licenses Harvard Tech
Nutraceutical company Xenomis last week said that it has signed an exclusive licensing agreement with Harvard Medical School for proprietary science that will help it develop nutraceutical products.
Under the terms of the agreement, Harvard will receive downstream royalties on future products, and undisclosed equity in the company.
The licensing deal is focused on “longevity genes,” or genes that are activated as part of a stress response to prolong lifespan and improve energy utilization in animals.

Battelle, AURP Survey Reveals Economic Impact of University Research Parks
A report released last week by Battelle’s Technology Partnership Practice and the Association of University Research Parks revealed how university research parks are contributing to technology-based regional economic development.
The report, entitled, “Characteristics and Trends in North American Research Parks: 21st Century Directions,” summarized the results of a survey of 134 research parks in the US and Canada.
Among its statistics, the report revealed that:
  • University research parks in the US and Canada encompass more than 47,000 acres and include 124 million square feet of space (will include 275 million square feet of space upon full build-out)
  • More than 300,000 workers in North America are employed at a university research park
  • Every job in a research park generates an average of 2.57 jobs in the economy, resulting in a total employment impact of more than 750,000 jobs
A full copy of the report can be downloaded here.
AURP released the report during its annual meeting last week in St. Louis.

The Scan

UK Team Presents Genetic, Epigenetic Sequencing Method

Using enzymatic DNA preparation steps, researchers in Nature Biotechnology develop a strategy for sequencing DNA, along with 5-methylcytosine and 5-hydroxymethylcytosine, on existing sequencers.

DNA Biobank Developed for French Kidney Donors, Recipients

The KiT-GENIE biobank described in the European Journal of Human Genetics contains DNA samples, genotyping profiles, immune patterns, and clinical features for thousands of kidney donors or transplant recipients in Nantes, France.

Cardiometabolic Disease May Have Distinct Associations With Microbial Metabolites in Blood, Gut

By analyzing gut microbes in combination with related metabolites in feces and blood, researchers in Nature Communications found distinct cardiometabolic disease relationships at each site.

Study Reveals New Details About Genetics of Major Cause of Female Infertility

Researchers in Nature Medicine conducted a whole-exome sequencing study of mote than a thousand patients with premature ovarian insufficiency.