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Sequenom, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Sirtris, Harvard University, Columbia University, Regeneron, University of Maryland’s Dingman Center, Johns Hopkins Technology Transfer, Ontario Genomics Institute, Biodiversity Institute of Ontario, Safeguard Bi

Sequenom Licenses Digital PCR IP from Chinese University of Hong Kong
Sequenom has licensed exclusive worldwide rights, except for Hong Kong, to intellectual property covering digital PCR and other non-invasive prenatal diagnostic technology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
The license expands San Diego-based Sequenom’s IP portfolio covering prenatal diagnostic methods using fetal nucleic acids obtained from maternal samples.
Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
The firm said that the digital PCR is technology-independent and was developed and validated on its MassArray platform and Fluidigm’s platform. Sequenom said it can be adapted for any of the existing digital PCR platforms.
In addition, it noted that the IP includes methods of analysis for noninvasive Down (trisomy 21), Edward (trisomy 18), Patau (trisomy 13), and other chromosomal aneuploidy syndrome diagnoses or other autosomal recessive disorders using digital PCR.

Sirtris Licenses IP from Harvard Related to Rxs for Diseases of Aging
Sirtris, a subsidiary of GlaxoSmithKline, has exclusively licensed from Harvard University a pair of patent applications covering assays and small molecules related to treating diseases of aging, such as type II diabetes.
Specifically, the licensing agreement covers methods of treatment and drug-discovery assays based on SIRT-3, one of a seven-member family of SIRT enzymes that regulate the aging process.
Sirtris said that SIRT-1 is the most widely studied enzyme in the group, but that considerable research is underway on SIRTs 2-7. A study published in Cell last September by Sirtris’ scientific advisory board members and Harvard scientist showed for the first time that activating SIRT-3 and SIRT-4 protects against cell damage, the company said.
Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Columbia and Regeneron Partner to Discover Human mAbs
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals and Columbia University said this week that they have entered into an agreement under which researchers at CU’s Medical Center will use Regeneron’s mouse model technology to discover fully human monoclonal antibodies.
Under the agreement, Columbia scientists will use Regeneron’s VelocImmune mice to generate antibodies against their research targets, and will conduct research to discover potential human therapeutics based on the antibodies.
Regeneron has an exclusive option to license the antibodies for development and commercialization as therapeutic or diagnostic products.
Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

UMCP’s Dingman Center Expands Capital Access Network for DC-Baltimore Startups
The Dingman Center at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business has expanded its Capital Access Network to include inventors and entrepreneurs working with Johns Hopkins Technology Transfer.
The new partnership adds to the Dingman Center's alliances through CAN, which is designed to connect startups with investors.
The center currently has alliances with tech councils, incubators, and state-funded institutions — including the Baltimore Emerging Technology Centers, the Montgomery County Department of Economic Development's Incubator Network, and the Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute.
The alliances enable the center to connect entrepreneurs of mid-Atlantic start-up companies with a network of more than 75 active, accredited angel investors and venture capitalists for early-stage capital.
Last week, in the first of this year's monthly CAN events, investors heard funding pitches from three companies.
Entrepreneurs seeking seed and early-stage funding apply to participate in the Dingman Center's CAN and are screened by the center's team of staff, entrepreneurs-in-residence, and MBA students. Each month, three companies are selected to present to CAN investors at the Smith School. After each event, the Dingman Center team works with investors and supports the companies as they pursue financing.
CAN, which began operation in 2005, last year accepted nearly 70 applications from companies, resulting in 22 presentations to investors and four funding events.

Ontario Genomics Institute Invests in DNA Barcode Research Project
The Ontario Genomics Institute said last week that it is investing in a Canadian public-private effort to develop a DNA barcode-based point-of-contact test that would recognize different groups of animal species in random plant and animal food samples.
OGI said it is investing in the effort, which includes the Biodiversity Institute of Ontario and the company Safeguard Biosystems, through its Pre-commercialization Business Development Fund. The institute did not say how much funding it is providing to the project.
The Biodiversity Institute receives its funding from Genome Canada through OGI, the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and Ontario’s Ministry of Research and Innovation, as well as from private and public funders.
The research will be led by the Canadian Centre for DNA Barcoding’s Associate Director Mehrdad Hajibabaei, and will involve Biodiversity Institute Director Paul Hebert and other international collaborators.
The barcoding tests will be based on Safeguard’s 3D Sensor Array technology, OGI said.
Safeguard CEO Richard Strafehl said in a statement that DNA barcoding is “a key discovery that will lead to the development of a series of products applicable to various areas including agriculture, forensics, and public health and safety.”

Durham University Spinout Reinnervate Gets £750,000 to Market Cell Scaffold Tech
Reinnervate, a spinout of Durham University in the UK, has secured £750,000 ($1.3 million) in private venture funding in a deal led by venture capital firm NorthStar Equity Investors.
Reinnervate received £550,000 through NSEI's Co-Investment Fund, while a further £200,000 was raised through angel investors. It has also received significant support from the Centre for Excellence in Life Sciences in the form of an undisclosed loan and consultancy, according to Durham University.
The company is developing a polystyrene foam scaffold that enables cells to grow in 3D similar to how they would grow in the human body. Studies have suggested that cells grown on a 3D scaffold, as opposed to traditional 2D culture plates, would behave more naturally in drug testing.
Reinnervate said it will use the funding to prepare for commercial manufacture and global sales of a product based on the scaffold, which was developed by Stefan Przyborski, a researcher at Durham University and chief scientific officer of Reinnervate.

LGE Execs Launches First Company Based on Texas Tech Invention
LGE Execs, an Austin, Texas-based business-services firm, said this week that it has launched a company to commercialize its first product based on research conducted at academic partner Texas Tech University.
The company, called Gamete, will manufacture and sell products and services that will help improve the reproduction process for livestock including cattle, horses, hogs, and sheep, LGE Execs said.
The announcement comes two weeks after LGE Execs and the Texas Tech University System announced that they had forged an agreement to allow LGE Execs to help commercialize TTUS technologies in the agriculture, health, and life sciences industries (see BTW, 9/10/2008).
Initial products from the company, based in Lubbock, will include proprietary containers that will help improve the collection and transportation of livestock semen to increase the success rate of artificial insemination by as much as 50 to 70 percent.
The advancements were made through a collaborative effort between researchers in the department of obstetrics and gynecology at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center and the department of animal and food sciences at Texas Tech University.

JumpStart Invests $380K in University of Toledo Spinout Freedom Meditech
JumpStart, a venture-development organization based in Northeast Ohio, said this week that it has made a $380,000 equity investment in Freedom Meditech, which is developing a non-invasive ocular glucose measurement device for people with diabetes.
Freedom Meditech’s device is based, in part, on patented technology developed at the University of Toledo.
The JumpStart investment is part of an undisclosed total amount of Series A financing that is anticipated to allow the company to complete current pre-clinical studies and create a second generation prototype for use in a pilot human clinical study.
The company had previously secured just under $1 million in angel and bridge financing for initial proof of human concept studies and other engineering, legal, patent, regulatory, and general operating expenditures.

Freedom Meditech is focused on developing a device similar in form to binoculars that would utilize the company's proprietary technology to non-invasively measure glucose levels in the aqueous humor of the eye – an area which has demonstrated a high correlation to glucose levels in blood and throughout the body.

The Scan

Genes Linked to White-Tailed Jackrabbits' Winter Coat Color Change

Climate change, the researchers noted in Science, may lead to camouflage mismatch and increase predation of white-tailed jackrabbits.

Adenine Base Editor Targets SCID Mutation in New Study

Researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles, report in Cell that adenine base editing was able to produce functional T lymphocytes in a model of severe combined immune deficiency.

Researchers Find Gene Affecting Alkaline Sensitivity in Plants

Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Science have found a locus affecting alkaline-salinity sensitivity, which could aid in efforts to improve crop productivity, as they report in Science.

International Team Proposes Checklist for Returning Genomic Research Results

Researchers in the European Journal of Human Genetics present a checklist to guide the return of genomic research results to study participants.