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ZaBeCor, Biothorpe Pharmaceuticals, UPenn School of Medicine, Max Planck Innovation, NEU2, European ScreeningPort, University of Waikato, Zygem, Telormedix, UCSD, Innovation Park at Notre Dame, USPTO, Japan Patent Office, Korean Intellectual Property Offi

ZaBeCor Cancer Rx Spinout to Use UPenn siRNA IP
Private RNAi drug developer ZaBeCor said this week that it has formed a subsidiary called Biothorpe Pharmaceuticals to develop siRNAs, antisense compounds, and other molecular technologies as treatments for cancer.
ZaBeCor was founded in 2002 using technology licensed from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.
Biothorpe’s intellectual property is also based on research conducted at the university, and will focus on the use of siRNAs against an intracellular kinase called Syk that is associated with numerous inflammatory responses.
According to the company, Syk kinase is also required for cellular proliferation in several cancers. As such, ZaBeCor said that it intends to license its intellectual property to Biothorpe for use in developing treatments for acute myelogenous leukemia, B cell lymphoma, and chronic lymphocytic leukemia.
ZaBeCor said it will continue to focus on inflammatory disorders.

Max Planck, NEU2 Win $76.5M for Drug-Discovery Center
A pair of consortia in Germany has been awarded a total of €54.5 million ($76.5 million) by the German Ministry of Education and Research to speed the commercialization of academic life sciences research and promote university-industry partnerships.
As part of a €100 million “BioPharma” competition sponsored by the German Ministry, Max Planck Innovation GmbH, the technology transfer agency of the Max Planck Society, will receive €20 million to fund the Drug Discovery and Development Center; while the European ScreeningPort, a project of the Northern Germany public-private consortium NEU2, will receive €34.5 million to focus on developing treatments for multiple sclerosis.
The Max Planck DDC was jointly developed by Max Planck Innovation and Inventive Capital, a London-based financial services firm, to develop basic research findings into novel medicines, Max Planck said. The DDC comprises two independent legal entities: the Lead Discovery Center and a Development Company.
The LDC, which has already started operations, will take on innovative research projects that have outstanding medical and commercial prospects but are not yet mature enough to attract industry development partners, Max Planck said. The LDC team will conduct proof-of-concept in animal models to advance projects to the lead stage. By the end of this year, the LDC will be working on six projects, spanning a broad range of indications including cancer and diabetes, Max Planck said.
DevCo, which is expected to start operations in 2009, will take leads from the LDC into subsequent drug development stages and initiate clinical studies in humans. Both companies will be staffed with industry-experienced scientists, project managers, and drug developers, Max Planck said.
Meantime, the NEU2’s European ScreeningPort, a partner of the Max Planck DDC, will use its funding to “develop novel therapeutic and diagnostic approaches for the treatment of patients with multiple sclerosis, with a portfolio of potential therapies going from basic research to market,” the consortium said in a statement.

Zygem Licenses DNA-Purification Tech from NZ’s University of Waikato
Zygem said this week that it has obtained worldwide, exclusive rights to intellectual property covering DNA purification from WaikatoLink, the technology-transfer and commercialization unit of New Zealand’s University of Waikato.
Zygem, based in Solana Beach, Calif., said that the Nucleic Acid Sequestering technology allows blocking of all DNA contamination with single-molecule sensitivity from samples to be used in DNA-based diagnostic tests.
The technology has applications in microbiology, forensics, and clinical diagnostic testing, Zygem said. The company also said that it intends to make the NAS technology available to customers shortly.
Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Telormedix Closes $19M Series A Financing to Advance Drugs Based on UCSD IP
Swiss drug developer Telormedix this week said that it has closed an initial Series A investment round worth 21 million Swiss francs ($19 million) to further the development of its innate immune system modulator drug pipeline.
Arias Venture of Basel led the financing round, which was also supported by Proquest Investments, BSI SA, Nextech Venture, and Generali Insurance Group.
Telormedix, based in Lugano-Bioggio, said that the funding would specifically allow the company to advance its lead product, TMX-101, to Phase I/II clinical trials next year, to further develop its drug pipeline, and to expand its operations.
The company’s pipeline of innate immune modulators is based on molecules discovered at the University of California-San Diego and exclusively licensed from the school, Telormedix said.

Officials Break Ground on Innovation Park at Notre Dame
Officials from the University of Notre Dame, the state of Indiana, and the city of South Bend last week broke ground for the Innovation Park at Notre Dame, a new research center and technology park designed to support the commercialization of university research.
The 12-acre research park, which will also be affiliated with the Indiana University School of Medicine at South Bend, is to be located adjacent to the Notre Dame campus.
The park is expected to “support the needs of researchers and entrepreneurs taking research discoveries from initial concept to commercialization,” and will “provide a major platform for converting intellectual property into economic growth,” officials involved with the project said in a statement.
The target completion date for the first phase of the park is fall 2009.

USPTO Inks Cooperative Agreements with Korean, Japanese Patent Offices
The US Patent and Trademark Office last week said that it has signed memorandums of understanding with national patent offices in Korea and Japan to promote greater cooperation between the offices.
On Sept. 24, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and USPTO Director Jon Dudas met with Japan Patent Office Commissioner Takashi Suzuki in Geneva, Switzerland.
According to the USPTO, Dudas and Suzuki hope to enhance mutual cooperation to expedite patent processing, enhance consistency in the quality of patent examination, and more closely harmonize patent procedures.
On Sept. 23, Dudas met with Korean Intellectual Property Office Commissioner Jung-Sik Koh in Geneva. Following their meeting, the officials signed an MOU to “promote work-sharing by harmonizing the patent examination environment of the Republic of Korea and the US with work-sharing arrangements.”
As part of this initiative, the countries plan to establish a common search database, develop a standardized patent classification system, conduct common examiner training, and better utilize each other’s examination results, the USPTO said.

NYBA, NYAS to Reduce Academy Membership Fees for Biotech Startups
The New York Biotechnology Association and the New York Academy of Sciences said this week that the have forged an alliance designed to give emerging biotech companies reduced price access to NYAS corporate membership.
The new ‘Growth Partners’ program will allow emerging biotech firms who are NYBA members to take advantage of NYAS corporate membership, which includes important programming and networking opportunities, NYAS said.
NYAS also said that it plans to inaugurate an annual event at the academy to focus on earlier-stage industry innovation and highlight NYBA members who become “Growth Partners.”

Comprendia Launches Marketing Kits for Life Sciences Startups
Comprendia, a newly formed biotechnology and life sciences marketing consulting firm, last week launched marketing kits to help nascent life sciences firms with their marketing efforts.
The BioStartup Marketing Kits are designed to meet the specialized needs of biotech companies, including materials and services relating to website design, logo and branding, brochures, public relations, and social media, Comprendia said.
Formed earlier this year, Comprendia, based in San Diego, said that it brings together PhD-level scientific consultants with developers, designers, and writers.

SCRA, MUSC, Charleston Unveil Plans for Innovation Center
The South Carolina Research Authority, Medical University of South Carolina, and the city of Charleston last week unveiled a preliminary building design for an “innovation center” for life sciences and other startup companies at 645 Meeting St. in Charleston.
The center will include wet lab and equipment space, primarily in concert with MUSC researchers.
“We envision this innovation center will help attract more scientists, generate more research and improve our ability to commercialize intellectual property,” Ray Greenberg, MUSC President, said in a statement.
SCRA has provided funding and support for 83 new knowledge-based start-ups in South Carolina since its inception in April, 2006 through its SC Launch program. According to a recent survey by The University of South Carolina Moore School of Business, jobs facilitated by SCRA and SC Launch! provided per capita annual wages of $55,000 to $77,000 in 2007. 

RainDance Joins French HT Screening Consortium
Microfluidics company RainDance Technologies said this week that it has joined a French consortium to develop a microfluidic system for use in quantitative high-throughput screening of potential drug compounds.
In addition to the Lexington-Mass.-based company, the dScreen Consortium includes the drug-maker Sanofi-Aventis and the Institute for Science and Supramolecular Engineering at Louis Pasteur University of Strasbourg. The consortium was founded with assistance from the Alsace BioValley cluster.
One of the consortium’s goals is to develop a microfluidic system for quantitative high-throughput screening of bio-active compounds using purified targets and cell-based assays. Such a system would enable researchers to gauge dose-response curves for compounds in a chemical library.

Another effort will be to develop a new system for storing compounds in which each compound will be stored in droplets using a microfluidic device, RainDance said.

The Scan

Myotonic Dystrophy Repeat Detected in Family Genome Sequencing Analysis

While sequencing individuals from a multi-generation family, researchers identified a myotonic dystrophy type 2-related short tandem repeat in the European Journal of Human Genetics.

TB Resistance Insights Gleaned From Genome Sequence, Antimicrobial Response Assays

Researchers in PLOS Biology explore M. tuberculosis resistance with a combination of sequencing and assays looking at the minimum inhibitory concentrations of 13 drugs.

Mendelian Disease Genes Prioritized Using Tissue-Specific Expression Clues

Mendelian gene candidates could be flagged for further functional analyses based on tissue-specific transcriptome and proteome profiles, a new Journal of Human Genetics paper says.

Single-Cell Sequencing Points to Embryo Mosaicism

Mosaicism may affect preimplantation genetic tests for aneuploidy, a single-cell sequencing-based analysis of almost three dozen embryos in PLOS Genetics finds.