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Tech Transfer Tidbits: Apr 22, 2009

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Merck, Medarex, and UMass Med's MBL Strike Deal for C. Difficile mAbs

Merck, Medarex, and Massachusetts Biologic Laboratories of the University of Massachusetts Medical School said this week that they have entered into a licensing agreement for a pair of human monoclonal antibodies for treating Clostridium difficile infections.

Under the terms of the agreement, Merck gains exclusive worldwide rights to develop and commercialize the mAb combination CDA-1 and CDB-1, which were co-developed by Medarex and MBL.

Merck will pay Medarex and MBL $60 million upfront, and may provide additional cash payments of up to $165 million upon achievement of certain undisclosed milestones associated with development and approval of a drug candidate covered by the agreement.

Upon commercialization, Medarex and MBL will also be eligible to receive double-digit royalties on product sales and milestones if certain undisclosed sales targets are met.

In accordance with a pre-existing agreement between Medarex and MBL, the organizations will divide all payments equally.

Merck, Medarex, and MBL said in a statement that C. difficile infection incidence rates doubled between 2000 and 2005, and that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that there will be as many as 750,000 cases by 2010.

"C. difficile infection is the primary cause of infectious diarrhea in hospitalized elderly patients in developed countries," Tony Ford-Hutchinson, senior vice president and head of infectious diseases and vaccines at Merck Research Laboratories, said in a statement.

Donna Ambrosino, executive director of MBL and professor of pediatrics at UMMS, added in a statement that "discovering and developing an effective new treatment for a significant public health threat is the mission of MBL. We are delighted that through this license agreement this candidate will advance towards final clinical studies and this will be potentially available to patients in the shortest possible time."


Vanderbilt Licenses Cancer Rx Assay to DiaTech Oncology

Vanderbilt University last week announced an exclusive license agreement with DiaTech Oncology for a cancer test called the microkinetic assay.

The assay, also known as MiCK, was invented by researchers at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. It is a laboratory test that helps physicians tailor chemotherapy for patients by measuring the response of their cancer cells to various drugs.

"This test could help oncologists decide which drug could be most efficacious, possibly reducing risk to the patient and expense of the treatment," Chris McKinney, director of the Vanderbilt Office of Technology Transfer and Enterprise Development, said in a statement.

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.


OHSU Spinout MolecularMD Sub-Licenses CML Mutation Test to Mayo Clinic

MolecularMD said this week that it has granted a sub-license agreement to the Mayo Clinic for methods of detecting ABL kinase mutations in chronic myelogenous leukemia patients.

The intellectual property is based on USPTO Patent No. 7,326,534, entitled "Detection of gleevec resistant mutations" and owned by Oregon Health and Science University.

MolecularMD, which spun out of OHSU in 2006, has licensed exclusive commercial rights to patented mutation discoveries made by OHSU researchers Brian Druker and Amie Corbin).

According to the company, approximately 26,000 people live with CML in the US, with about 5,000 new patients diagnosed each year. The leukemia is associated with the formation of the BCR-ABL oncogene as a result of a chromosomal translocation known as the Philadelphia chromosome.

Hematology and oncology physicians at Mayo Clinic treat CML patients at each of their three campuses in Arizona, Florida, and Minnesota. The sub-license will allow Mayo Clinic to add ABL kinase domain mutation testing to the current range of BCR-ABL analyses in its molecular hematopathology laboratory, thus providing critical information to clinicians about possible drug resistance in CML patients receiving tyrosine kinase inhibitor therapy, MolecularMD said.

Financial terms of the sub-license agreement were not disclosed.


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Hadasit Licenses Oral Immune Modulator to Immuron

Hadasit, the technology-transfer company of the Hadassah Medical Organization, has licensed to Immuron an oral immune-modulation technology developed by Hadassah physicians and scientists, Hadasit said this week.

Hadasit said that the combination of its oral immune modulation technology with Immuron's existing oral protein and antibody technology could yield a convenient, all-natural, side-effect-free approach to treating diseases such as metabolic syndrome, hepatitis C, and type II diabetes.

Under the terms of the agreement, Hadasit will also provide clinical and laboratory services to Immuron, which has offices in New York and Melbourne, Australia.

In return, Hadasit will be issued 19.99 percent of Immuron's equity when Immuron's shareholders approve the transaction, as well as royalties on Immuron products.

In addition, Yaron Ilan, a professor at Hadassah Medical Center, will become chief medical officer at the company. He will continue to serve as the director of the department of medicine "A" at the Hadassah Ein-Kerem University Hospital, and as deputy dean of the Hebrew University Hadassah School of Medicine in Jerusalem.


Uppsala Bio-X Program Soliciting Grant Applications

Uppsala Bio, a Swedish life sciences-based economic development initiative, said this week that it is seeking proposals for projects under its Bio-X funding program.

The program offers funding of up to 1.5 million SEK (about $200,000) per year for up to two years, as well as project and IP support and access to a broad network of industrial and academic expertise, Uppsala Bio said.

The purpose of Bio-X is to create new business opportunities by supporting research projects with commercial potential.

Uppsala Bio-X has supported seven projects to date, three of which have left the program. The group said that two of those projects "proved to be a critical catalyst for successfully accelerating" life science companies Olink and ModPro.

The four ongoing Bio-X projects are in the area of diagnostic tools, drug development, and drug delivery, although Uppsala Bio said that the new call is open for applications from all areas.

The last day for submission is June 15, after which a scientific advisory board will make a first selection. Those selected will be invited to present in October.


Metabolon Launches Research Grant Program

Metabolon this week announced the launch of the Metabolomics Research Grant program.

The program is designed to help promote and expand metabolomics as a tool for academic and government researchers, and to encourage novel research publications, by awarding qualified institutions awards for global biochemical profiling studies.

Metabolon said that it will regularly select studies for the grant program based on the scientific merit and impact of the proposed study. The grant can be applied toward the company's mView metabolomics service and will cover some or all of the service.

"We had originally launched our sponsored research program with the intention of selecting one winner of a free global biochemical profiling study," John Ryals, Metabolon's CEO, said in a statement.

"Our team was so impressed with the caliber of research being conducted … that we created" the research grant program, Ryals added.

Organizations selected to participate in the inaugural round of the program include the University of Oxford, University at Buffalo, Cancer Research UK, and the University of Minnesota, Metabolon said.

The company did not disclose the amount of its research grant awards.


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Purdue University Accepting Proposals for $100K Biz Plan Competition

Purdue University said last week that it is now accepting applications for the sixth Purdue University Life Sciences Business Plan competition, a $100,000 event on Nov. 10 that will highlight promising entrepreneurship in the life sciences.

Registration deadline for the Purdue competition is May 18. Participating teams must represent a life sciences company that is no more than three years old, and recent startup companies are of particular interest.

First prize in the competition is $30,000, plus $5,000 in legal services from law firm Baker and Daniels and $5,000 in business services from accounting firm Ernst and Young. The top Indiana team also receives $10,000 from BioCrossroads.

Second prize is $20,000, plus $6,000 in legal and business services; third prize is $10,000, plus $4,000 in legal and business services; and fourth prize is $5,000. The remaining four finalists each receive $2,500.

In addition, Purdue Research Park will offer business incubator space to the top finalist and affiliate status to the second- and third-place finishers.


USPTO and German Patent Office Initiate Patent Prosecution Highway Program

The US Patent and Trademark Office and the German Patent and Trademark Office have partnered to establish a Patent Prosecution Highway pilot program, the offices said this week.

PPH agreements are cooperative initiatives designed to streamline the patent system and promote expeditious, inexpensive, and high-quality patent protection throughout the world.

The agreement with the German patent office is the ninth such agreement the USPTO has made with other nations' patent and trademark offices.

The pilot period for the US-Germany program will begin on April 27, and continue for two years.


Technology Transfer Tactics and Patents Online Partner on Patent Database

Tech-transfer newsletter Technology Transfer Tactics and online patent search company Patents Online said last week that they are collaborating to offer a database of all patents held by 143 US universities.

Visitors to the Technology Transfer Tactics website can now view the current patent portfolios of each of the universities, as well as initiate a general patent search from the same web page via a toolbar for the Patents Online portal.

Technology Transfer Tactics is a monthly subscription-based newsletter published by BizWorld. The newsletter provides guidance designed to "streamline the commercialization process, as well as maximize the financial benefits of that process for universities and other research organizations," its publisher said in a statement.

Patents Online founded FreePatentsOnline.com in 2004.


UT Law School Opens New Center for Law and Innovation in Biomedicine and Healthcare

The University of Texas School of Law said last week that it has created the George McMillan Fleming Center for Law and Innovation in Biomedicine and Healthcare.

The new legal center will address the juncture of law, medicine, ethics, public policy, and the management of healthcare delivery, UT said.

Its faculty will conduct research on how law impacts biomedical and healthcare innovation, including patent law and the development of new drugs; ethical and regulatory constraints on research; and ways to eliminate barriers to access new therapies.

The center will also sponsor a fellowship dedicated to health benefits and service; research and public lectures on the global emergence of constitutional rights to healthcare; and programs addressing childhood obesity and health-related interventions.

The Fleming Center will host an inaugural conference May 1-2 entitled "Law and Innvovation: The Embryonic Stem Cell Controversy," chaired by John Robertson, chair of UT Law.

The Scan

Renewed Gain-of-Function Worries

The New York Times writes that the pandemic is renewing concerns about gain-of-function research.

Who's Getting the Patents?

A trio of researchers has analyzed gender trends in biomedical patents issued between 1976 and 2010 in the US, New Scientist reports.

Other Uses

CBS Sunday Morning looks at how mRNA vaccine technology could be applied beyond SARS-CoV-2.

PLOS Papers Present Analysis of Cervicovaginal Microbiome, Glycosylation in Model Archaea, More

In PLOS this week: functional potential of the cervicovaginal microbiome, glycosylation patterns in model archaea, and more.