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Tech Transfer Tidbits: Apr 1, 2009

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Regeneron Inks Research Pact with UT-Southwestern Medical for Human mAbs

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals said this week that it will provide researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center with access to Regeneron’s VelocImmune technology to discover fully human monoclonal antibodies.

Under the agreement, scientists at UT Southwestern will use VelocImmune mice to generate antibodies against their research targets and will conduct research to discover potential human therapeutics based on the antibodies.

Regeneron, based in Tarrrytown, NY, has an exclusive option to license the antibodies to further develop and commercialize them as therapeutic or diagnostic products.

UT Southwestern is the second university to participate in Regeneron’s Academic VelocImmune Investigators Program. In September 2008 Columbia University became the first academic institution to join the program (see BTW, 9/17/2008).


NYC's Mount Sinai Taps DiscoveryBioMed for Bioassay Services

Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, through its Office of Technology and Business Development, has inked multiple fee-for-service contracts with DiscoveryBioMed to optimize human cells and assays, and develop pilot drug-discovery bioassays, the organizations said this week.

Experiments have already begun in assay optimization, and pilot drug screening will begin shortly, Mount Sinai said.

DBM, based in Birmingham, Ala., said it has developed several academic partnerships over its first 15 months of formal operations. Its particular expertise is developing and engineering human cell cultures and lines from normal or diseased tissue for drug discovery.

"We are pleased to have a partner in DBM who provides us with drug-discovery services consistent with our academic needs and capabilities," Patrick McGrath, executive director of Mount Sinai's OTBD, said in a statement.

"We have been expanding our resources and capabilities in the area of technology development in order to further typical academic early-stage technologies to the point that they are more attractive to partners who can translate the technology into products and services," McGrath added.


Repligen Licenses Bipolar Disorder Rx from Harvard's McLean Hopsital

Repligen said this week that it has exclusively licensed worldwide rights from Harvard Medical School's McLean Hospital to use uridine to treat patients with bipolar disorder.

Using uridine for this indication is currently the subject of a patent application, Repligen said. Upon issue, the patent will remain in force until 2025 prior to any regulatory extensions, it said.

Under the terms of the licensing agreement, McLean, the largest psychiatric facility of Harvard Medical School, will receive an undisclosed upfront payment, development milestones, and royalties upon successful commercialization.

Repligen, based in Waltham, Mass., is developing RG2417, an oral formulation of uridine, as a treatment for the depressive symptoms of bipolar disorder, based on positive results from a Phase IIa clinical trial.

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UT System Awarded Patent for Antiviral Rx; Peregrine Pharma is Exclusive Licensee

Peregrine Pharmaceuticals said this week that the University of Texas system has been awarded a US Patent to which Peregrine has an exclusive license.

The patent, US No. 7,511,124, is in the area of phospholipid-targeting agents for treating life-threatening diseases. The new patent covers composition of matter claims that cover multiple formulations of phosphatidylethanolamine-binding agents attached to a wide variety of anti-viral agents.

The patent also follows issuance last year of broad methods patents covering use of PE-binding agents in anti-viral agents.

Co-inventors named on the patent are UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers Philip Thorpe, Melina Soares, and Jin He.

Terms of Peregrine's licensing agreement with the UT system have not been disclosed.


MSU Technologies Moves to East Lansing Tech Innovation Center

The city of East Lansing, Mich., and Michigan State University said last week that MSU Technologies, the tech-transfer and commercialization arm of MSU, will be the anchor tenant in the city's SmartZone space.

MSU Technologies will move from its current office south of campus on Collins Road to the SmartZone, which is adjacent to the new East Lansing Technology Innovation Center and provides support and facilities to technology-based enterprises.

MSU Technologies will occupy its own 6,600-square-foot space adjacent to the Technology Innovation Center, a business incubator that supports technology-based startups in central Michigan.

"MSU Technologies brings our inventions to the marketplace, so it is only fitting to operate [MSUT] in the marketplace," MSU President Lou Anna Simon said in a statement. "This move will improve service to faculty and allow us to interact with companies and investors in a cutting-edge business environment."


UMass Awards $175K in Tech-Development Funds

The University of Massachusetts system said last week that it has awarded a total of $175,000 to seven UMass researchers to help them further develop early-stage technologies, including five biomedical technologies.

The seven $25,000 awards each were made through the university's Commercial Ventures and Intellectual Property Technology Development Fund, which was established in 2004.

Over the past six years, the fund has made a total of 41 awards for technology commercialization to faculty from all five UMass campuses, resulting in the creation of several new companies, new licenses, and more than $3 million in additional research funding for the recipients, UMass said.

The 2009 CVIP Technology Development Fund awardees include:

• Hang Xiao, David McClements, Eric Decker, and Yeonhwa Park; Department of Food and Science, UMass Amherst; to further develop a technology for encapsulating bioactive compounds in nanolaminated biopolymer membranes, which has benefits over existing technologies for orally administered, colon-specific delivery for preventing and treating colorectal diseases.

• Xingwei Wang and Wenhui Wang, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, UMass Lowell; for a disposable blood pressure sensor that will allow cardiologists to determine the location and the severity of blockages in coronary arteries.

• Fumihiko Urano, Program in Gene Function and Expression and Program in Molecular Medicine, UMass Medical School; to further develop a method to predict a patient's susceptibility for developing diabetes by measuring the expression levels of WFS1 in peripheral blood.

• Celia Schiffer, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, UMass Medical School; for a series of HIV -1 protease inhibitors designed to be more robust to viral mutation and hence likely less likely to illicit drug resistance.

• Stephen Miller, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, UMass Medical School; to validate a technology for delivering sulfonated fluorescent molecules into live cells, allowing non-invasive optical imaging of the intracellular environment.

The Scan

Booster for At-Risk

The New York Times reports that the US Food and Drug Administration has authorized a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech SARS-CoV-2 vaccine for people over 65 or at increased risk.

Preprints OK to Mention Again

Nature News reports the Australian Research Council has changed its new policy and now allows preprints to be cited in grant applications.

Hundreds of Millions More to Share

The US plans to purchase and donate 500 million additional SARS-CoV-2 vaccine doses, according to the Washington Post.

Nature Papers Examine Molecular Program Differences Influencing Neural Cells, Population History of Polynesia

In Nature this week: changes in molecular program during embryonic development leads to different neural cell types, and more.