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Tech Transfer Tidbits: May 13, 2009


J&J COSAT Provides $750K to MIT Deshpande Center Corporate Program

Johnson & Johnson Services, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, said this week that it has become a founding member of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation's Corporate Program.

As such, Johnson & Johnson, through its Corporate Office of Science and Technology, or COSAT, will provide the program with $750,000 over five years and provide input to projects and grantees as they advance their technologies toward commercialization.

"We are pleased to have the Johnson & Johnson [COSAT] as a partner," Leon Sandler, executive director of the Deshpande Center, said in a statement. "The company's assistance will really make a difference in the development of cutting-edge innovations."

Garry Neil, head of COSAT, said in a statement that the office "recognizes the MIT Deshpande Center as an important driver of innovation in healthcare. COSAT is committed to identifying leading technologies and supporting their development."

The MIT Deshpande Center helps move commercially promising technologies from MIT labs to the marketplace through grant awards, education, and services. Since 2002, the center has supported more than 70 projects with almost $10 million in research grants. These efforts have led to the formation of 18 startup companies that have raised more than $140 million in capital, MIT said.

France's Cytoo Licenses Micropattern Tech, Patents from Curie, CNRS, CEA, Harvard

Cytoo Cell Architects has exclusively licensed a patent portfolio for adhesive micropattern technology from the Curie Institute and the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, the company said last week.

Cytoo, of Grenoble, France, said it has also gained the freedom to operate by inking patent-licensing agreements with the French Atomic Energy Commission's Life Sciences Division and Harvard University.

Financial terms of the licensing agreements were not disclosed.

Following the licensing agreements, Cytoo launched its flagship product, Cytoochips, which are 4 cm2 glass coverslips bearing more than 20,000 adhesive micropatterns for individual cells. The company said the chips are available in a wide range of geometries and are used to normalize cell morphology and behavior.

The company said that the IP that it has secured puts it "in a strong position to assume a leadership role in the fields of cell analysis and high-content screening."

Finland's VTT Spinout PlexPress Nets $2.75M in Seed Financing

PlexPress, a spinout of Finland's VTT Technical Research Center, said last week that it has secured $2.75 million in an initial venture capital seed funding round to help it launch its multiplex gene-expression analysis platform by the third quarter.

According to PlexPress, the seed financing round was led by Finnish investors Conor Technology Fund I, based in Espoo; Veraventure, of Kuopio; the Helsinki University Fund; and VTT.

PlexPress' core technology, transcription analysis with affinity capture, or TRAC, was developed by researchers at VTT to provide high-content gene-expression analysis of between two and 150 genes in up to several thousand samples.

The company, which maintains offices in Helsinki and Los Altos, Calif., said applications for the platform include compound screening, cellular signaling, stem cell and cancer research, and toxicology.

As reported last week by BTW sister publication BioArray News, PlexPress' technology will likely compete with other mid-multiplex expression platforms sold by companies such as High-Throughput Genomics and Panomics, which was acquired by Affymetrix last year.

PlexPress CEO Robert Dunkle told BioArray News that the round should enable the company to fund operations until the platform debuts in the fall. Since its founding, PlexPress has embarked on around 30 research projects, he said, but now requires outside funding to support a global business.

Corgenix Extends Research Pact with Tulane for Hemorrhagic Fever Dx

Corgenix Medical last week announced that it has extended a collaboration with Tulane University and other corporate partners to develop test kits for detecting viral hemorrhagic fever.

The National Institutes of Health has awarded a five-year grant, the first year of which is worth $1.5 million, to Tulane to further develop the kits. Robert Garry, professor of microbiology and immunology at the Tulane University School of Medicine, will serve as principal investigator.

Under the grant, Tulane and Corgenix will collaborate with Autoimmune Technologies, Vybion, and various undisclosed partners in West Africa, Corgenix said.

This is the second grant awarded to Tulane for Lassa virus product research. Under the original multi-million dollar grant awarded in 2005, the group developed and patented new recombinant proteins for Lassa virus and developed several viral detection products that were clinically tested in Africa.

Under the new grant, the partners will move the prototype Lassa products into full commercialization, Corgenix said.

Xconomy and Boston University to Host First Xconomy Summit

Xconomy has partnered with Boston University's Office of Technology Development to host XSITE 2009, the first annual Xconomy Summit on Innovation, Technology, and Entrepreneurship showcasing innovation in New England.

With the theme "The Recovery Starts Here," XSITE 2009 will take place on June 24 at the Boston University School of Management, and will bring together CEOs from large and small companies, university leaders, students, and innovators.

The conference will focus on how current innovations in life science, cleantech/energy, and IT are influencing the business and economic landscape of New England.

Among the list of participating industry, venture capital, and academic leaders are Juan Enriquez of Biotechnonomy; Nobel laureate Phil Sharp of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Microsoft Startup Labs Managing Director Reed Sturtevant; Boston Power CEO Christina Lampe-Onnerud; Alnylam Pharmaceuticals CEO John Maraganore; Boston Scientific co-founder John Abele; and A123Systems co-founder Yet-Ming Chiang.

More information and registration instructions can be found on the conference website.

Sirius Genomics to Work with Vanderbilt on Sepsis Biomarker Study

Diagnostics developer Sirius Genomics will collaborate with Vanderbilt University to study patients in a biomarker study for a drug aimed at treating severe sepsis, the company said last week.

The pharmacogenomics company, based in Vancouver, BC, Canada, will work with Vanderbilt's Validating Acute Lung Injury biomarkers for Diagnosis, or VALID, study to continue developing a diagnostic to assess responsiveness to recombinant human activated Protein C.

The drug is sold by Eli Lilly under the trade name Xigris.

"Working with Sirius Genomics will move biomarker research in sepsis closer to the clinic and ultimately lead to improved patient care in the ICU," the VALID study's principal investigator, Lorraine Ware, said in a statement.

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Battelle Licenses Inhalation Drug-Delivery Tech to Incubation Factory

Non-profit R&D company Battelle has licensed its Opt-EFX electrohydrodynamic technology for inhalation drug-delivery applications to the Incubation Factory, a commercialization accelerator focused on creating and growing companies based on commercially promising technologies.

Under the terms of the agreement, the Incubation Factory, based in St. Louis, has the right to commercialize products based on Battelle's Opt-EFX technology for inhalation drug delivery.

This agreement is in addition to a recently announced deal in which the Incubation Factory was granted the right to commercialize Opt-EFX in a broad range of applications and markets, including home fragrance.

The Opt-EFX technology is based on electrohydrodynamics and converts electrical energy into kinetic energy as the material is emitted from a nozzle, Battelle said.

The Scan

More Boosters for US

Following US Food and Drug Administration authorization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has endorsed booster doses of the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson SARS-CoV-2 vaccines, the Washington Post writes.

From a Pig

A genetically modified pig kidney was transplanted into a human without triggering an immune response, Reuters reports.

For Privacy's Sake

Wired reports that more US states are passing genetic privacy laws.

Science Paper on How Poaching Drove Evolution in African Elephants

In Science this week: poaching has led to the rapid evolution of tuskless African elephants.