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Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, University of Montreal, Sigma-Aldrich, University of Southern California, Avid Pharmaceuticals, MIT Holding, Top Institute Pharma, Targeted Genetics

WARF Submits Additional Language to Protect Key Stem Cell Patents
The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation last week filed amendments with the US Patent and Trademark Office to make technical changes to the claims of its three human embryonic stem cell patents, Nos. 5,843,780; 6,200,806; and 7,029,913.
The amendment clarifies claim language and makes the claim language consistent among the three stem cell patents, currently under re-examination by the USPTO.
Michael Falk, general counsel for WARF, said in a statement that “the technical language submitted to the PTO’s examiners more clearly differentiates the patented discoveries from the ‘prior art,’ or existing science at the time of Professor James Thomson’s advances.”
In October 2006, the patent office agreed to re-examine the patents following challenges by New York-based Public Patent Foundation, California-based Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, and Jeanne Loring, a stem cell researcher at the Burnham Institute for Medical Research.
In April, the patent office issued a preliminary rejection of the patents in its first office action of the re-examination (see BTW, 4/9/2007).

U of Montreal to Use Sigma-Aldrich shRNA Library for RNAi Screening
Sigma-Aldrich said last week that it has signed an agreement to provide its RNAi technologies to the University of Montreal’s Institute of Research in Immunology and Cancer.
Under the agreement, the institute's high-throughput screening facility will have access to Sigma-Aldrich’s Mission RNAi intellectual property portfolio and its shRNA library collection for human and mouse genomes.
Funding for the research was provided by Genome Quebec and by Sigma-Aldrich.
The company said it plans to use feedback from the studies to “further its understanding of specific target function” and to continue to develop its high-throughput drug research tools.

USC’s Stevens Institute Opens Satellite Office on Health Sciences Campus
The Stevens Institute for Innovation at the University of Southern California this week opened a satellite office at USC’s Health Sciences Campus.
According to USC, the office will serve the HSC “community of innovators” through community-building events, showcases, and technology-transfer activities. Specifically, the office will enable the USC Stevens HSC team to more effectively serve faculty members and researchers at HSC schools such as the Keck School of Medicine,USC School of Pharmacy, and USC School of Dentistry.
The USC Stevens HSC team comprises five employees and is expected to nearly double by the end of the year. USC Stevens’ director of licensing, Joe Koepnick, will split his time between the main and HSC campuses.
Noting that 42 percent of USC’s licensing revenue comes from inventions and patents developed at the Keck School of Medicine, provost CL Max Nikias said in a statement that the satellite office was “a strategic development in line with the university mission to enhance and foster innovation across all disciplines for maximum social impact.”

Avid Begins Clinical Trials for Imaging Compound Licensed from UMich, UPenn
Avid Pharmaceuticals last week said that enrollment has begun in a proof-of-concept phase I clinical trial investigating Avid’s development compound 18F-AV-133 for imaging patients with movement disorders, including Parkinson’s disease and essential tremor, and various forms of dementia.
The study will initially be conducted at the University of Michigan and will involve 30 patients, Avid said.
The 18F-AV-133 compound binds to vesicular monoamine transporters (VMAT2) in the brain to image neuronal loss. Avid has an exclusive licensing deal with the University of Michigan and the University of Pennsylvania for use of the compound in VMAT2 imaging.

MIT Holding Taps Georgia Southern U for Infectious Disease Research
MIT Holding, a Savannah, Ga.-based distributor of wholesale pharmaceuticals, has signed an agreement with Georgia Southern University to research products to stop the spread of infectious diseases, the company said last week.
Thomas Kollars, MIT Holding’s chief scientific advisor and director of the Biodefense and Infectious Disease Laboratory at GSU’s College of Public Health, will oversee the project.
Specifically, MIT Holding said that the partnership would focus on developing an undisclosed product that could help stop the spread of infectious diseases such as malaria, dengue fever, and West Nile virus.
Financial details of the agreement were not disclosed.

Dutch Research Consortium Funds $18.4M in Public-Private Cancer Research
Dutch public-private partnership Top Institute Pharma said last week that it will start four cancer-related research projects totaling €13.1 million ($18.4 million).
TI Pharma forms consortia of industrial and academic research teams to conduct cross-disciplinary research projects that fit into the Priority Medicines program of the World Health Organization.
The four new projects are:
  • “Identification of novel kinases involved in cancer-relevant processes,” a partnership between Pepscan Presto, Erasmus MC (University Medical Center Rotterdam), Utrecht University, and the University Medical Center Groningen
  • “Kinases in cancer,” a partnership between Organon, the University Medical Center Utrecht, and the Netherlands Cancer Institute
  • “Nuclear receptors in targeted cancer therapy: improved methods for candidate selection,” a partnership between Organon, the Leiden/Amsterdam Center for Drug Research, Erasmus MC, and the Netherlands Cancer Institute
  • “TNF ligands in cancer,” a partnership between Organon, Pepscan Presto, the Netherlands Cancer Institute, the University of Groningen, the VU Medical Center Amsterdam, the Academic Medical Center Amsterdam, and the University Medical Center Groningen
TI Pharma did not disclose the amounts of individual research grants.

Targeted Genetics Receives Milestone from AMT for UPenn-Developed IP
Targeted Genetics last week said that it has received an undisclosed milestone payment from Amsterdam Molecular Therapeutics under a licensing agreement that provides AMT with non-exclusive rights to patents covering adeno-associated virus type 1, an AAV serotype with potential applications in treating lipoprotein deficiency.
AMT took a non-exclusive license to the US patents, Nos. 6,759,237 and 7,105,345, from Targeted Genetics in December 2006 for specific use of AAV1 in developing therapeutics for lipoprotein deficiency.
The patents were originally issued to the University of Pennsylvania and exclusively licensed to Targeted Genetics.

The Scan

Study Reveals New Details About Genetics of Major Cause of Female Infertility

Researchers in Nature Medicine conducted a whole-exome sequencing study of mote than a thousand patients with premature ovarian insufficiency.

Circulating Tumor DNA Shows Potential as Biomarker in Rare Childhood Cancer

A study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology has found that circulating tumor DNA levels in rhabdomyosarcoma may serve as a biomarker for prognosis.

Study Recommends Cancer Screening for Dogs Beginning Age Seven, Depending on Breed

PetDx researchers report in PLOS One that annual cancer screening for dogs should begin by age seven.

White-Tailed Deer Harbor SARS-CoV-2 Variants No Longer Infecting Humans, Study Finds

A new study in PNAS has found that white-tailed deer could act as a reservoir of SARS-CoV-2 variants no longer found among humans.