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Technology Spotlight: University of Delaware

According to Eric Kmiec, a professor of biology at the University of Delaware and co-founder of UD spin-out Orphagenix, the university has been stepping up its efforts to encourage more entrepreneurship in its faculty to speed up technology commercialization efforts (see this issue’s Q&A with Kmiec for further details on Orphagenix).
Following are several select notable biotechnologies available for licensing from UD as provided by the University of Delaware Office of the Vice Provost for Research and Graduate Studies.
A full list of UD’s technologies available for licensing can be found on the UD OVPR’s website.
Technology: Monoclonal antibodies recognizing Prox 1
IP Status: US patent application filed
Inventors: Melinda Duncan, Xiaoren Chen, William Cain
Description: Prox 1 is a protein that appears to regulate the transcription of genes important for the development of the ocular lens, the liver, the hair cells of the ear and the lymphatic system. While polyclonal antibodies against Prox 1 have been created previously and used in numerous publications, stable, specific monoclonal antibodies against Prox 1 had not previously been reported. Prox 1 is one of the only known markers of the lymphatic system that has been proven consistently useful to tell lymphatic from blood vessels. Prox 1 is of interest to a number of research groups because of its role in the development of these systems. Further, Prox 1 monoclonal antibodies may have clinical applications since the presence of a lymphatic system in a tumor may be predictive of its metastic potential since these vessels may allow the dissemination of tumor cells from a primary lesion to distant sites.

Technology: Pan-antagonists for the androgen receptor and androgen receptor mutants associated with anti-androgen withdrawal
IP Status: US patent application filed
Inventors: JohnTze-Trun Koh and Paula McGinley
Description: This technology is based on the development of PLM1 and related derivatives that are antagonists of the human androgen receptor and androgen receptor mutations associated with clinical failure of currently prescribed anti-androgens. PLM1 and its derivatives were uniquely designed to target AR mutations that are known to impart resistance to known anti-androgens used in cancer chemotherapy. As such, these analogs are believed to have the potential to delay the occurrence of anti-androgen withdrawal syndrome and to serve as a second line of defense in anti-androgen therapy when mutations to the androgen receptor give rise to anti-androgen withdrawal.

Technology: untitled
IP Status: US patent application filed
Inventors: Joel Scheider and Darrin Pochan
Description: The present invention provides a process for designing peptides to adopt a desired secondary structure in response to one or more environmental stimuli. Further, the invention provides a process for designing a peptide that will form a higher order structure, for example, a hydrogel, in response to one or more environmental stimuli. The invention also encompasses the higher order structures thus formed. Hydrogels of the invention may be designed to be compatible with the adhesion and proliferation of various cell types, for example, fibroblasts and osteoblasts, making them potential tissue engineering scaffolds for generating connective tissue and bone.

Technology: Small regulatory RNAs and methods of use
IP Status: US patent application filed
Inventors: Pamela Green, Blake Myers, Cheng Lu, Shivakundan Singh Tej
Description: The present invention relates generally to the isolation and identification of small ribonucleic acids from an organism and methods for their use. In particular the invention relates to novel small inhibitory RNAs, microRNAs, tiny RNAs, or combinations thereof from an organism, for example, Arabidopsis thaliana. In a related aspect the invention relates to methods of using the small RNAs.

Technology: Protein kinase-inducible domains
IP Status: US patent application filed
Inventors: Neal Zondlo and Shalini Balakrishnan
Description: Protein kinases and phosphatases are two classes of enzyme that modify proteins in cells by reversible addition of removal of a phosphate group on the protein, leading to changes in regulation and cellular control. Humans have over 500 kinases and 100 phosphatases, and changes in the activities of these enzymes have been implicated in most human diseases, particularly cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and heart disease. Therefore a major class of emerging pharmaceuticals is kinase inhibitor, small molecules that block the actions of these enzymes. The invention describes an approach to detect the activities of kinases by developing proteins whose structures depend on action by a particular protein kinase. The approach involves peptide ligands whose structures depend on action by a particular protein kinase, and peptide ligands whose structures, fluorescence, and magnetic properties depend on phosphorylation by protein kinases. The approach also involves a new principle, using phosphoserine and/or phosphotheonine to mimic glutamic acid residues, with the concomitant structure and properties of the proteins depending on whether the phosphorylated residue is present, indicating whether the particular kinase is active. The method is designed to be applicable to the specific imaging of the activities of each of the individual protein kinases and phosphatases.

The Scan

Tens of Millions Saved

The Associated Press writes that vaccines against COVID-19 saved an estimated 20 million lives in their first year.

Supersized Bacterium

NPR reports that researchers have found and characterized a bacterium that is visible to the naked eye.

Also Subvariants

Moderna says its bivalent SARS-CoV-2 vaccine leads to a strong immune response against Omicron subvariants, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Science Papers Present Gene-Edited Mouse Models of Liver Cancer, Hürthle Cell Carcinoma Analysis

In Science this week: a collection of mouse models of primary liver cancer, and more.