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North Carolina Biotechnology Center, NanoVector, Arbovax, Countervail, EntoGenetics, St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, InNexus Biotechnology, University of Utah, Biospace, Maryland Technology Development Corporation, Innoscion, BioTherapeutics

NCBC Loans $347K to Four North Carolina Startups
The North Carolina Biotechnology Center said this week that it has loaned $347,000 to four NC-based life sciences companies.
NanoVector, based in Raleigh, received a $147,000 Small Business Research Loan to continue developing a nanovirus vector for use as a chemotherapy delivery agent. The company’s technology is based in part on research conducted by scientists at North Carolina State University.
Arbovax, also in Raleigh, received a $150,000 Small Business Research Loan to further develop a vaccine for Dengue fever virus. A spinout of NC State, Arbovax announced the loan from NCBC last month, and said that it would broadly support the company’s research and development program in the area of vaccines against insect-borne viruses (see BTW, 8/20/2008).
Countervail, which has offices in Charlotte and in Camden, NJ, received a $25,000 Business Development Loan from NCBC to help it commercialize an antidote for military nerve gas and pesticide poisoning. Last September, Countervail exclusively licensed an agent that can protect against the effects of organophosphate-based chemical agents and insecticide poisons from the University of Maryland, Baltimore, and the US Army (see BTW, 9/10/2007).
Lastly, the NCBC awarded a $25,000 Business Development Loan to EntoGenetics, a Charlotte-based company developing a process for making spider silk for industrial and medical applications.

InNexus Partners with Arizona’s St. Joseph’s Hospital to Develop Endometriosis Rxs
St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center and InNexus Biotechnology said last week that they will collaborate to develop treatments for women with endometriosis.
St. Joseph’s is part of Catholic Healthcare West, one of the largest healthcare systems in the Western US with 42 hospitals in Arizona, California, and Nevada.
InNexus is a drug-development company headquartered in Vancouver but with principal management based on the Mayo Clinic campus in Scottsdale, Ariz. The company is developing monoclonal antibodies for several diseases using its Dynamic Cross Linking technology.
Scientists from St. Joseph’s and InNexus will conduct research at both St. Joseph’s and InNexus’ GLP-certified drug development laboratories, and will be funded by research grants, the partners, and strategic collaborators, InNexus said.
Additional details were not disclosed.

University of Utah Sues Biodevice Maker Biospace for Alleged IP Infringement
The University of Utah has sued medical device manufacturer Biospace for allegedly infringing a US patent related to methods for determining a patient’s body composition using bioelectrical impedance.
According to the complaint, filed last week in the US District Court for the State of Utah, Biospace, which has offices in Korea and Beverly Hills, Calif., has infringed upon US Patent No. 5,335,667 by manufacturing and selling devices and systems that are covered by one or more claims of the patent.
These devices and systems include, but are not limited to, Biospace’s devices and systems that involve the InBody technology, including InBody520, InBody320, and InBody230, the suit claims.
The ‘667 patent, which was awarded in 1994, names Kichul Cha, CEO of Biospace, and Kenneth Horch, a professor of bioengineering at the University of Utah, as co-inventors. The University of Utah Research Foundation is the sole assignee of the patent.
The suit claims that in 1992, when the ‘667 patent was filed, Cha was a graduate student at the University of Utah, and entered into licensing negotiations for rights to the patent during his tenure. The outcome of these negotiations is unclear.
The University of Utah alleges that Cha founded Biospace and began developing, manufacturing, and selling the infringing medical devices; and that the company refused to stop their infringing activities upon request earlier this year by the university.
The University of Utah is seeking judgment that Biospace and Cha have infringed upon the ‘667 patent, as well as willful and treble damages and a permanent injunction against Biospace to cease infringement.

Recent TEDCO Tech-Transfer Grants Include Pair of Biotech Firms
The Maryland Technology Development Corporation last week said that it has awarded seven Maryland companies, including two life sciences companies, $525,000 in total funding through its Maryland Technology Transfer Fund program.
As part of the funding round, TEDCO awarded $75,000 each to Baltimore-based Innoscion and Germantown’s Integrated BioTherapeutics.
Innoscion is a Baltimore company working with Johns Hopkins University to develop technologies for improving interventional procedures used when accessing deep organs and structures in patient management. The funding will be used to develop a catheter that can image a needle or device in real time in relation to vital structures in the region of interest.

Integrated BioTherapeutics is working with the University of Maryland at College Park to develop a multivalent vaccine against three toxins produced by Staphylococcus bacteria: SFB, SEA, and TSST-1.

The Scan

Researchers Develop Polygenic Risk Scores for Dozens of Disease-Related Exposures

With genetic data from two large population cohorts and summary statistics from prior genome-wide association studies, researchers came up with 27 exposure polygenic risk scores in the American Journal of Human Genetics.

US Survey Data Suggests Ancestry Testing Leads Way in Awareness, Use of Genetic Testing Awareness

Although roughly three-quarters of surveyed individuals in a Genetics in Medicine study reported awareness of genetic testing, use of such tests was lower and varied with income, ancestry, and disease history.

Coral Genome Leads to Alternative Amino Acid Pathway Found in Other Non-Model Animals

An alternative cysteine biosynthesis pathway unearthed in the Acropora loripes genome subsequently turned up in sequences from non-mammalian, -nematode, or -arthropod animals, researchers report in Science Advances.

Mosquitos Genetically Modified to Prevent Malaria Spread

A gene drive approach could be used to render mosquitos unable to spread malaria, researchers report in Science Advances.