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News Briefs: Dec 10, 2008

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Stanford Law Launches Online Database of US IP Disputes
 
The Law, Science, & Technology Program at Stanford Law School this week launched the Stanford Intellectual Property Litigation Clearinghouse, an online database offering comprehensive information about IP disputes in the US.
 
The publicly available online research tool will allow users to review real-time data about IP legal disputes that have been filed in the US. The database includes real-time data summaries, industry indices, and trend analysis together with a full-text search engine.
 
Stanford, along with partner organizations that funded the development and provided industry insight, is releasing the IPLC in phased modules. This week’s release, the Patent Litigation Module, includes more than 23,000 cases filed in US district courts since 2000, and includes raw data for every district court patent case and all results (outcomes and opinions).
 
The IPLC was developed with the support of a wide range of industry and philanthropic partners, including: Cisco Systems; Cornerstone Research; Fenwick & West; Genentech; Intel; the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation; Oracle; Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe; Qualcomm; SAP America; and Winston & Strawn.
 
As part of the development process, an early version of the IPLC was made available to roughly 200 IP scholars across the country in August 2008, as well as to philanthropic supporters, so that both groups could help test the system and maximize its usefulness.
 
On an ongoing basis, IPLC-affiliated scholars at Stanford Law School will be issuing successive reports on various topics, including trends in patent litigation, settlements, and case outcomes, Stanford said.
 

 
Novocell Inks Research Collaboration with Kyoto U’s Yamanaka
 
Novocell said this week that it has formed a research collaboration with Shinya Yamanaka of Kyoto University in Japan to explore the creation of human islet cells from induced pluripotent stem cells.
 
According to Novocell, the collaboration will be conducted at the stage of basic research, and no commercial agreements have been made. However, “both parties highly respect the other’s technology and believe that the collaboration has great potential for developing new therapies for diabetic patients in the near future,” Novocell said in a statement.
 
Novocell, based in San Diego, has developed technology for developing functioning pancreatic islet cells from human embryonic stem cells in vivo. Yamanaka is known for creating embryonic-like cell from mouse and human iPS cells.
 

 
Transgenomic Licenses mtDNA Technology from Clayton Foundation
 
Transgenomic has licensed quantitative PCR technology from the Clayton Foundation for Research of Houston that may be used to detect damage in mitochondrial DNA indicating cardiovascular disease, the company said last week.
 
Transgenomic has signed an exclusive license for the patents with the Research Development Foundation, which is the Clayton Foundation’s technology-transfer arm.
 
These patents cover a method of detecting mtDNA damage that specifically indicates oxidative stress, a risk factor in cardiovascular death. Scientists have thus far been unable to determine whether reducing that oxidative stress will reduce cardiovascular risk due to an absence of a way to measure the stress, the company said.
 
The technology was developed at the University of Texas in the lab of Ben Van Houten, through a collaboration with Marschall Runge, who is chair of the Department of Medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
 
Van Houten and Runge showed that mtDNA damage in blood cells occurs early in atherosclerosis; that aortic mtDNA damage increases with age; and that genetic background and diet both can influence the level of the damage, Transgenomic said.
 
Early studies have suggested that the amount of mtDNA damage “correlates with a near-term risk of major adverse cardiovascular events,” and that a measure of the damage could help predict coronary atherosclerotic heart disease.
 
Runge said in a statement that by collaborating with Transgenomic “we will be able to pursue studies of large populations of individuals at risk of cardiovascular diseases, and determine the utility of this measure in patients who may benefit from therapies to reduce oxidative stress."
 
Financial terms of the agreement were not released.
 

 
LSGCP Invests $250K in Cell-Based Assay Shop Indigo Biosciences
 
The Life Sciences Greenhouse of Central Pennsylvania said this week that it has invested $250,000 in Indigo Biosciences, which is developing frozen, single-use cell-based nuclear receptor assays for drug discovery.
 
Indigo, which was founded in 2005 by Penn State professor Jack Vanden Heuvel and University of Kansas professor Blake Peterson, provides pre-clinical testing services to small pharmaceutical and neutraceutical companies.
 
Indigo specializes in evaluating the effects of small molecules on nuclear receptors, a class of drug targets implicated in cancer, diabetes, atherosclerosis, and obesity, among other diseases.
 
The company’s frozen cell-based assays are ideal for high-throughput screening, and use a proprietary cryo-preservatrion technology called CryoMite, which allows the assay to be stored at -80° C with significantly greater survivability versus other assays, the company said.
 

 
ADDF Awards Drug Discovery Grants to Startups sGC Pharma, P2D Biosciences
 
The Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation said last week that it has provided research and development grants through its Fund for Alzheimer's Drug Discovery to a pair of biotechnology startups developing Alzheimer’s treatments.
ADDF said last week that it has awarded a $295,300 Biotechnology Founder’s grant to sGC Pharma, a biotech startup developing a drug to improve cognition and memory in patients with Alzheimer's disease.
 
sGC Pharma, based in Cambridge, Mass., is developing a “nitric oxide-mimetic” compound that imitates the function of nitric oxide, a chemical produced by enzymes in the human body that appears to influence learning. In a series of pre-clinical studies on animal models, sGC's compound, sGC 1061, has shown positive effects on cognition and memory as well as neuron survival.
 
sGC Pharma is a portfolio company of BioVentures Investors, and has licensed its candidate compound from Queens University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada.
 
In a separate announcement, ADDF said last week that is providing a Biotechnology Founder’s grant of $300,000 to P2D Biosciences to develop novel Alzheimer’s treatments based on the drug thalidomide, currently marketed by Celgene.
 
Thalidomide is currently approved for treating multiple myeloma and has been demonstrated to block tumor necrosis factor-alpha protein, which is a mediator of cell death and may play a role in Alzheimer’s disease.
 
P2D is a privately held biotech company located in Cincinnati, Ohio.
 
ADDF’s Fund for Alzheimer's Drug Discovery is a venture philanthropy fund that operates similar to a venture capital fund. The purpose of the fund is to catalyze drug discovery and development for AD by making mission-related investments in early-stage biotechnology companies.
 

 
City of Hope to Use DxTerity Diagnostics Platform in Antisense Program
 
DxTerity Diagnostics last week said that the City of Hope research center will use the firm’s Non-Enzymatic Amplification Technology, or NEAT, genomics testing platform in a program to develop antisense therapeutics.
 
DxTerity’s platform enables gene-controlled ligation of oligonucleotide probes inside of cells, the Rancho Dominguez, Calif.-based firm said. In addition to applying the technology to therapeutics development, the platform enables the development of “simple and affordable nucleic acid-based tests,” said DxTerity.
 
City of Hope researchers believe the technology could potentially help develop a new class of therapeutics with reduced side effects.
 
Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
 

 
Georgetown Joins Chesapeake Crescent Innovation Alliance
 
Georgetown University said last week that it recently joined the Chesapeake Crescent Innovation Alliance, an alliance of research universities from across Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia with the goal of driving regional innovation, economic performance, and global competitiveness.
 
The alliance also includes George Mason University, George Washington University, Johns Hopkins University, the University System of Maryland, University of Virginia, and Virginia Tech University.
 
CCIA specifically aims to examine areas of potential cooperation and collaboration in regional centers of excellence, entrepreneurial development, and early-stage investment in order to generate greater economic performance, jobs, and startups in the region.
 
The group will also work towards moving research-based inventions to marketplace commercialization.
 

 
UAB Cancer Proteomics Facility Using Genedata's Mass Spec Analysis Software
 
Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Comprehensive Cancer Center Proteomics Facility are using Genedata’s mass spectrometry analysis software to help them in their efforts to identify protein biomarkers for human diseases using animal models, Genedata said last week.
 
Under a collaboration agreement, UAB scientists are using the company’s Expressionist system to analyze data related to pancreatic cancer, prostate cancer, and cystic fibrosis.
In those studies, the researchers are using the Expressionist Refiner MS and Analyst modules for pre-processing and statistical analysis.
 
Additional terms of the agreement were not released.

The Scan

Shape of Them All

According to BBC News, researchers have developed a protein structure database that includes much of the human proteome.

For Flu and More

The Wall Street Journal reports that several vaccine developers are working on mRNA-based vaccines for influenza.

To Boost Women

China's Ministry of Science and Technology aims to boost the number of female researchers through a new policy, reports the South China Morning Post.

Science Papers Describe Approach to Predict Chemotherapeutic Response, Role of Transcriptional Noise

In Science this week: neural network to predict chemotherapeutic response in cancer patients, and more.