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UW TechTransfer, Pentax, Raptor Pharma, University of California, San Diego, Advanced Cancer Therapeutics, James Graham Brown Cancer Center, Metabolon, Harvard-Partners, George Washington University, US Patent and Trademark Office, VistaGen Therapeutics

UW TechTransfer Licenses Endoscopy Tech to Pentax
UW TechTransfer, the tech-transfer arm of the University of Washington, said last week that it has signed an exclusive license with Pentax Corporation for a suite of scanning fiber endoscope technologies.
Pentax funded the research project at UW for the last four years, and hopes to have a product on the market within a couple of years, UW said.
The technology was developed by UW researchers Eric Seibel, Rich Johnston, and David Melville. It consists of a single optical fiber for illumination, oscillated in a pattern to scan a broader field of view with better image quality, UW said.
Financial terms of the licensing agreement were not disclosed.

Raptor Pharma Subsidiary Licenses UCSD IP for Liver Disease Candidate
Raptor Pharmaceuticals said last week that its clinical development subsidiary, Bennu Pharmaceuticals, has acquired an exclusive worldwide license to intellectual property from the University of California, San Diego, covering the use of cysteamine and delayed-release cysteamine for treating non-alcoholic steatohepatitis.
In collaboration with doctors from the UCSD School of Medicine, Bennu plans to initiate a Phase 2a clinical study of delayed-release cysteamine in NASH patients this year, the company said.
NASH is a form of progressive liver disease resulting from triglyceride fat accumulation in vacuoles of the liver cells, which causes decreased liver function and potentially leads to cirrhosis and liver failure.
Cysteamine is currently approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for managing nephropathic cystinosis.
Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

ACT Licenses Second Anti-Cancer Drug from Louisville’s Brown Cancer Center
Advanced Cancer Therapeutics has signed an exclusive license to develop and market an anti-angiogenic small molecule compound from the University of Louisville’s James Graham Brown Cancer Center, the company said this week.
Under the agreement, ACT has commercial rights to further develop and market the compound, 4-IPP, and its related compounds.
Brown Cancer Center researchers Robert Mitchell and John Trent discovered that 4-IPP exhibits anti-tumor activity by blocking tumor-specific angiogenesis, and have demonstrated a favorable safety profile for the compound in laboratory studies.
While initially targeted for oncology applications, 4-IPP has also been evaluated for its potential in treating autoimmune-related diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and multiple sclerosis, ACT said.
Financial terms were not disclosed.
Earlier this month, ACT signed an exclusive license to develop and market 3PO, a dual-mechanism anti-cancer therapeutic, from the Brown Cancer Center.

Metabolon, Harvard-Partners Collaborate on Warfarin-Dosing Test
Metabolon announced this week that it is collaborating with Harvard-Partners Center for Genetics and Genomics on developing a new test for warfarin dosing.
The alliance is aimed at determining whether a patient’s metabolomic profile will increase the likelihood of correctly dosing warfarin.
HPCGG is a joint effort between Harvard Medical School and Partners Healthcare medical system in the Boston area.
Harvard-Partners is conducting a prospective study using genetic testing in an attempt to find the optimal warfarin dose for individual patients. It expects to complete sample collection from that study early this coming summer, after which Metabolon will conduct metabolomic analysis.
HPCGG and Metabolon expect to report results from their collaboration in a peer-reviewed publication.
“Metabolon’s biomarker discovery platform gives us the opportunity to find biochemical markers that along with genetic variations might help characterize the differences between patients’ metabolism of warfarin,” Raju Kucherlapati, director of HPCGG, said in a statement.
In addition to the collaboration, Partners HealthCare investigators gained preferred access to Metabolon’s global biochemical profiling platform, which extracts, identifies, and quantitates hundreds of small molecule biochemicals in a given biological sample.
Financial and other terms of the alliance were not disclosed.

GWU and USPTO Host Business Competition to Solve Patent-Backlog Issue
The George Washington University School of Business has partnered with the US Patent and Trademark Office for its 2008 International Business Case Competition, the USPTO said this week.
The competition brings together 18 teams of MBA students from around the world, each of which will present proposed solutions to the issues of patent pendency and backlogs at USPTO.
The competition will culminate on March 28-29 at the Washington Marriott Hotel, when the teams will present their proposals to a panel of judges, including USPTO senior management executives and business leaders from a variety of industries.
Patent pendency is the amount of time it takes from the time a patent application is filed until the USPTO makes a final decision as to whether to grant the patent; while backlog is how many patents are currently waiting to be examined.
The USPTO estimated that the backlog stood at more than 760,000 patent applications, while average pendency was approximately 32 months as of the close of FY 2007.

Tedco Awards $149K to Maryland Private-Public Biotech Partnerships
The Maryland Technology Development Corporation said this week that it has awarded $149,000 total in funding from TEDCO’s Maryland Technology Transfer Fund to a pair of Maryland biotechnology companies. .
TEDCO awarded $75,000 to CC Biotech, based in Rockville, to support its collaboration with the National Institutes of Health to commercialize spiral countercurrent chromatography technology for purifying biomolecules; and $74,000 to Traxion Therapeutics, of Baltimore, to support its collaboration with the University of Maryland, Baltimore, to develop drugs for treating intractable pain.
TEDCO also awarded $75,000 to Bethesda-based IT firm SentiMetrix, for its collaboration with the University of Maryland.
The MTTF program is designed to foster greater collaboration between businesses and Maryland universities and federal laboratories to speed technology to the marketplace.

VistaGen Inks Stem-Cell Alliance with Toronto’s UHN, McEwen Center
VistaGen Therapeutics has entered into an embryonic stem cell research alliance with Toronto's University Health Network and its stem cell research affiliate, the McEwen Center for Regenerative Medicine, the company said earlier this month.
VistaGen, based in South San Francisco, Calif., will primarily collaborate with the laboratory Gordon Keller, director of the McEwen Center for Regenerative Medicine. The group expects to study techniques that differentiate ES cells into mature cardiac, liver, and pancreatic beta-islet cells.
The new research program builds on VistaGen's existing strategic licenses to Keller's prior ES cell intellectual property, and covers new ES cell-based research projects, VistaGen said.
The company also expects to use the results of this research to develop the next generation of its customized ES cell-based heart, liver, and pancreatic beta-islet cell differentiation systems for discovering new drugs to treat heart disease, liver disease, and diabetes.

The Scan

UK Pilot Study Suggests Digital Pathway May Expand BRCA Testing in Breast Cancer

A randomized pilot study in the Journal of Medical Genetics points to similar outcomes for breast cancer patients receiving germline BRCA testing through fully digital or partially digital testing pathways.

Survey Sees Genetic Literacy on the Rise, Though Further Education Needed

Survey participants appear to have higher genetic familiarity, knowledge, and skills compared to 2013, though 'room for improvement' remains, an AJHG paper finds.

Study Reveals Molecular, Clinical Features in Colorectal Cancer Cases Involving Multiple Primary Tumors

Researchers compare mismatch repair, microsatellite instability, and tumor mutation burden patterns in synchronous multiple- or single primary colorectal cancers.

FarGen Phase One Sequences Exomes of Nearly 500 From Faroe Islands

The analysis in the European Journal of Human Genetics finds few rare variants and limited geographic structure among Faroese individuals.