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Tech Transfer Tidbits: Mar 18, 2009


JumpStart, Case Tech Ventures Pump $375K into CWRU Spinout Neuros Medical

JumpStart and Case Technology Ventures said this week that they recently agreed to invest $375,000 in Neuros Medical, a spinout of Case Western Reserve University commercializing neurostimulation technology developed at the school.

Neuros' technology was invented by Kevin Kilgore and Niloy Bhadra of CWRU's Department of Biomedical Engineering and MetroHealth Medical Center, in partnership with the Cleveland Functional Electrical Stimulation Center.

Dubbed "Nerve Block," the technology delivers high-frequency stimulation to sensory nerves in the peripheral nervous system to block chronic pain.

Neuros is currently conducting investigational studies and will use the JumpStart and CTV investment to complete the testing, it said.

JumpStart is a Northeast Ohio-based venture-development organization that provides investment, management, and other commercialization services to early-stage companies in the region. CTV is a pre-seed venture capital and tech-validation fund at CWRU.

Neuros is JumpStart's 49th investment in its 38th company, and its fourth direct co-investment with CWRU's CTV Fund.

Ontario Genomics Institute Invests in UWO Spinout Cytognomix

The Ontario Genomics Institute last week said that it has made an undisclosed investment in London, Ontario-based startup firm Cytognomix through its pre-commercialization business development fund program.

Cytognomix was co-founded by University of Western Ontario researchers Peter Rogan and Joan Knoll.

The investment will allow Cytognomix to further develop cytogenetic DNA probes that detect anomalies in the genome at a higher resolution than is currently routinely possible, OGI said. The probes could eventually result in more effective disease diagnostics and tailored treatments, OGI said.

"The investment from OGI will help us [develop] more probes for more genetic diseases, building on the existing 400 probes for around 100 diseases," Rogan said in a statement. "Our long-term goal is to manufacture probes that doctors could use to diagnose literally hundreds of disorders on the spot."

OGI's pre-commercialization business development fund invests in genomics, proteomics, or associated technologies in the proof-of-principle stage of commercialization.

Forma Therapeutics Collaborates with Singapore's ETC on Cancer Rx Discovery

Forma Therapeutics and the Experimental Therapeutics Centre of Singapore said last week that they will collaborate to use Forma's chemistry platform to discover novel compounds for further development by ETC.

Funded by the Agency for Science, Technology, & Research of Singapore, the ETC facilitates public-private partnerships in the areas of drug discovery and development and biomedical research tools to spur economic development in the country.

Forma, based in Cambridge, Mass., but with offices in Connecticut, Singapore, and Beijing, uses targets and pathways validated by the Cancer Genome Atlas Project and related efforts to develop cancer therapies. The company uses proprietary cell-based screening, structure-guided drug discovery, and diversity-oriented synthesis technologies.

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Cyclogenix, Wyeth, Queensland's IMBcom Ink License and Research Pact for Peptide Rxs

Cyclogenix said recently that it has entered into a license and research agreement with Wyeth Pharmaceuticals and IMBcom, the tech-transfer arm of the Institute for Molecular Bioscience at the University of Queensland in Australia.

Under the agreement, Cyclogenix, an Aberdeen, UK-based spinout of UQ, has granted Wyeth exclusive rights to its drug-discovery platform for use in generating therapeutic peptides. In exchange, Wyeth will fund research activities that use the technology.

Wyeth has an option to acquire all rights to the technologies from Cyclogenix at the end of the research collaboration, which may last for as many as five years.

Meantime, IMBcom has granted Cyclogenix licenses to cyclotide peptide technologies developed by the IMB; and UQ professor David Craik will collaborate with the company to develop cyclotide-based drug candidates.

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

KCI, Wake Forest to Appeal German Patent Court Invalidation Ruling

Kinetic Concepts said this week that the German Federal Patent Court has ruled invalid a German patent licensed to KCI from Wake Forest University and related to the company's VAC wound-care product.

Medical technology companies Medela, Molnycke Health Care, and Smith & Nephew are challenging the validity of the patent, EP 0620720 (DE 69224847).

KCI said that the decision of the GFPC is not final, and that along with Wake Forest it will appeal the decision to the German Federal Supreme Court. The patent remains valid in Germany until a final ruling from the appellate court, KCI said.

KCI and Wake Forest are embroiled in multiple legal disputes in the US and abroad over patents covering the wound-care technology (see BTW, 1/7/09).

The Scan

Machine Learning Helps ID Molecular Mechanisms of Pancreatic Islet Beta Cell Subtypes in Type 2 Diabetes

The approach helps overcome limitations of previous studies that had investigated the molecular mechanisms of pancreatic islet beta cells, the authors write in their Nature Genetics paper.

Culture-Based Methods, Shotgun Sequencing Reveal Transmission of Bifidobacterium Strains From Mothers to Infants

In a Nature Communications study, culture-based approaches along with shotgun sequencing give a better picture of the microbial strains transmitted from mothers to infants.

Microbial Communities Can Help Trees Adapt to Changing Climates

Tree seedlings that were inoculated with microbes from dry, warm, or cold sites could better survive drought, heat, and cold stress, according to a study in Science.

A Combination of Genetics and Environment Causes Cleft Lip

In a study published in Nature Communications, researchers investigate what combination of genetic and environmental factors come into play to cause cleft lip/palate.