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University of Florida, Southern California Stem Cell Scientific Collaboration, Celsion, Duke University, University of Akron, Cleveland State University, SuperArray Bioscience, Carnegie Institution for Science, Znomics, Syndexa Pharmaceuticals, Bind Biosc


U of Florida to Build Life Sciences Incubator on Campus
The University of Florida last week said that it has reached an agreement with Alexandria Real Estate Equities to create a 160,000-square-foot life sciences and technology incubator facility on the UF campus.
The project, to be called the Innovation Center, will have one of its two buildings located on a site south of UF’s Cancer and Genetics Research Building. A second similar building is expected to be constructed within several years at an as yet undisclosed location.
Alexandria’s business model involves creating and growing life science clusters in close proximity to strong academic, medical, and research institutions, UF said. The real estate firm owns and operates approximately 12 million square feet of office and laboratory property, including at Technology Square at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Mission Bay/University of California, San Francisco; and has more than 7 million square feet of space under development, including at the East River Science Park in New York and the MaRS Center in Toronto.
In a statement, David Day, director of UF’s Office of Technology Licensing, said that there is currently a waiting list for UF’s Sid Martin Incubator. UF won more than $583 million in research awards in 2006-2007, including more than $260 million in the life sciences.

Southern Cal Research Institutes Band Together for Stem Cell Research
Several research institutions in Southern California have formed the Southern California Stem Cell Scientific Collaboration, or SC3, to advance stem cell research in the region.
Members of the collaboration include the University of Southern California, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, City of Hope, University of California at Santa Barbara, California Institute of Technology, and the House Ear Institute.
In a statement, representatives from various member institutions said that the agreement will support potentially significant stem cell findings by allowing members to better share training programs, scientific core facilities and expertise, and research projects.
Each institution will appoint a faculty member to serve on a joint scientific advisory committee, which will serve as a forum to develop collaborative research ventures, the institutions said.

Celsion Takes Option to Drug-Delivery Ligand from Duke University
Celsion has signed an option to license worldwide rights to a peptide ligand developed at Duke University for targeting drug-delivery vehicles to cancer cells, the company said last week.
Under the agreement, Celsion gains exclusive rights to perform scientific and intellectual property due diligence on this ligand. The agreement also grants Celsion an exclusive license negotiation period. As part of the option, Celsion has filed patent applications covering the ligand and its use as a targeting agent.
The peptide ligand is specific for a surface pocket on the epidermal growth factor receptors, which are over-expressed in a wide variety of human cancers including lung, breast, bladder, and ovarian cancers, Celsion said.
Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

The U of Akron to Provide Tech-Transfer Services for Cleveland State U
The University of Akron and Cleveland State University will share resources aimed at promoting technology development and economic growth in Northeast Ohio, the schools said recently.
Under an agreement signed in November, the University of Akron Research Foundation will initially perform technology, commercialization, and intellectual property management services for Cleveland State on an as-requested basis.
Services will include evaluating products and technologies for commercialization or other technology transfer opportunities; negotiating and administering contracts to transfer commercialization rights in intellectual property and technology; identifying collaboration opportunities among universities and private companies; and supporting emerging enterprises, UA said.

“While both Cleveland State and our university already manage these functions, a combined effort will allow us to leverage a much larger pool of university-industry partnerships,” University of Akron President Luis M. Proenza said in a statement. “Research foundations create wealth in the communities they serve; by combining our resources, we can support the entire region in creating economic growth.”

Both universities issued an open invitation to other institutions to join them in the cooperative effort as future opportunities arise.

SuperArray Licenses RNAi IP from Carnegie Institution
SuperArray Bioscience has licensed gene-silencing intellectual property from the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, DC, the firm said last week.
SuperArray will use Carnegie’s technology to offer RNAi-based gene silencing products for studies including gene-specific siRNA and DNA-based RNAi expressing short hairpin RNA. It also has the right to pass on the technology to end users performing DNA-based RNA interference, SuperArray said.
The Frederick, Md.-based company said the agreement will allow it to generate gene-specific RNAi for every gene in the human, rat, and mouse genomes.
Financial terms of the agreement were not released.

OHSU Spinout Znomics Garners $4.9M from Reverse Merger with Shell Company
Znomics, a Portland, Ore.-based zebrafish platform-based drug-discovery company, last week said it has secured $4.9 million as part of a reverse merger with publicly traded shell company Pacific Syndicated Resources.
The transaction turns Znomics into a public company that will remain in Portland. Znomics will use the money to hire more employees and move to larger quarters so that it can add to its library of zebrafish strains, according to an article published in Cell-Based Assay News, a BTW sister publication.
Znomics was founded in 2001 by scientists at Oregon Health and Science University and began laboratory operations in 2002. The company currently employs 19 people and is housed in an approximately 5,000-square-foot facility.

Harvard Spins Out Biopharma Firm Syndexa
Harvard University spinout Syndexa Pharmaceuticals announced its formal start last week, according to a report in the Boston Business Journal.
The company, formed through Harvard University's technology development office, is focused on developing new treatments for chronic inflammation, neurodegenerative disorders, and obesity-related conditions including type 2 diabetes and fatty liver disease, the report said.
Syndexa's technologies were developed in the laboratory of Gokhan Hotamisligil at the Harvard School of Public Health.
To date, the company has raised more than $4 million from private investors. Syndexa plans to seek an additional $15 million in second-round financing over the next two years to fund its pipeline, according to the BBJ article.

Harvard Med and MIT Startup Bind Biosciences Closes $16M Series B Round
Bind Biosciences, a privately held company developing targeted nanoparticles for differential delivery and controlled drug release to diseased tissue, said last week that it has secured $16 million in Series B financing.
Founding investors Polaris Venture Partners and Flagship Ventures were joined by ARCH Venture Partners and NanoDimension in the funding round.
Bind was formed in 2006 by Robert Langer, institute professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and Omid Farokhzad, assistant professor of anesthesiology at Harvard Medical School.
In January, Polaris and Flagship provided $2.5 million in initial funding to Bind.

Hebrew University’s Yissum Licenses Clean Tech to Belgian Company
Yissum, the technology transfer company of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, announced last week that it has signed an agreement with an undisclosed Belgian holding company to commercialize clean technology for manufacturing biodegradable plastic from protein-rich plants.
Under the agreement, Yissum will receive licensing fees and royalties from sales of future products. Further financial details were not disclosed.
Sergei Braun, a professor at Hebrew University, developed the technology, which enables the production of biodegradable plastic for the food-packing industry from the dregs left after processing protein-rich crops such as corn, canola, rapeseed, and soy beans.

Iowa State University Outlicenses Pig Genetic Markers to GeneSeek
The Iowa State Research Foundation recently signed an agreement to license the use of DNA markers in four genes associated with growth, leanness, and meat quality in pigs to GeneSeek, of Lincoln, Neb., according to a statement from the National Pork Board.
All of the markers have been previously tested and commercially validated by a large pig breeding company, according to the report.

The Scan

mRNA-Based Vaccine on the Way in China

China may soon have its own mRNA-based vaccine, according to Nature News.

Arranged Killing, Fraud Alleged by Prosecutors

The Wall Street Journal reports that prosecutors allege that the co-founder of a biotech arranged to have a business associate who threatened to expose him as a fraud killed.

Whirlwind Decade of CRISPR

The New York Times looks back at the 10 years since the University of California, Berkeley's Jennifer Doudna and her colleagues published their CRISPR paper.

PNAS Papers on Blue Cone Monochromacy Structural Variants, HIV-1 Mutant, T-ALL

In PNAS this week: structural variants linked to blue cone monochromacy, HIV-1 variants affecting the matrix protein p17, and more.