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A Lab that Straddles Worlds

Though is an academic researcher at MIT, Robert Langer has 811 issued or pending patents and has helped start 25 companies, The New York Times reports. He and his lab, the paper adds, are "on the front lines of turning discoveries made in the lab into a range of drugs and drug delivery systems. Without this kind of technology transfer, the thinking goes, scientific discoveries might well sit on the shelf, stifling innovation."

Langer and his lab have developed a number of products, including a chemotherapy wafer and a miniaturized chip as well as a controlled-release polio vaccine for use in the developing world. "Bob is not consumed with any one company," says Harvard Business School's Kent Bowen. "His mission is to create the idea."

The Times notes, that Langer and his team "have found a way to navigate some slippery territory: the intersection of academic research and the commercial market."

Though, generally speaking, Josephine Johnston from the bioethics organization the Hastings Center says that there is the question of whether commercial interests influence academic research. "I think that universities and the public policy makers are a little unsure where they think the balance should be. Does this opportunity skew the research agenda in terms of commercial application instead of the public interest?" she asks.

Langer tells the Times that his students are not pressured into developing businesses, and that his lab has strict ethics rules in place.

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.