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News and Events > Newsletters > Monthly Newsletter: May 2005


University of Colorado Technology Transfer Office

Monthly Newsletter


Volume 1 ~ Issue 9 ~ May 2005

Today at the TTO


TTO's New Business Development Director, Tom Smerdon, Starts May 23rd

Tom Smerdon, currently an Associate Director at the Ohio State University Technology Licensing Office, will be TTO's New Business Development Director. In this role Tom will work with inventors, TTO staff, students and the business community to facilitate the creation of new businesses based on intellectual property created by CU investigators. Key responsibilities include coordinating the process of starting viable technology companies by working to bring the best possible entrepreneurial management, business planning and risk capital sources to assist in company formation and growth. (more)

Somalogic Announces Collaboration with Quest Diagnostics to Develop Clinical Diagnostic Applications Using Aptamer Technology
SomaLogic, Inc., a leading clinical proteomics company, recently announced that it had entered a technology development agreement with Quest Diagnostics Incorporated, the leading provider of diagnostic testing, information and services in the U.S. Under the terms of the agreement, Quest Diagnostics will develop new diagnostic tests based on SomaLogic's proprietary aptamer array platform. In addition, Quest Diagnostics has made a $15 million equity investment in SomaLogic. Additional terms of the agreements and timetables for test development were not disclosed. (more)

Technology Transfer Office and University of Colorado at Colorado Springs Group Sign an MOU to Promote Tech Transfer at UCCS
Effective July 1, 2005, the Colorado Institute for Technology Transfer and Implementation at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs (http://citti.uccs.edu ) will provide support to TTO for tech transfer activities at the UCCS campus. This group, known as CITTI, will promote the concept and practice of technology transfer to the UCCS faculty, which should result in the disclosure of more inventions to TTO. CITTI will also help TTO build and manage invention disclosure review and business plan development teams. (more)

Exclusive Option Executed with Biometrics Company Securics
In April 2005, Securics signed an exclusive option to license four biometrics technologies developed by Dr. Terrance Boult at CU Colorado Springs. Securics is now raising money to develop the technology, seeded with an investment from CU's Proof of Concept Fund. A major component of the growing industry of security technology is biometrics, e.g. fingerprint and face recognition, and privacy. Biometrics is an established and rapidly growing industry, with both technological and marketing niches. The tradeoffs in cost, ease of use, long-term security and the invasion of privacy inherent with biometrics present numerous opportunities. The market is rapidly growing, and International Biometrics Group predicts a $5 billion market for biometrics hardware and software by 2009. The patent pending biometrics technologies included in the option agreement address ease of use, cost and accuracy/reliability while providing significant privacy enhancements and revocability.

CU Technology and Licensee Companies in the News

Extreme Life Discovery in Yellowstone Bodes Well for Astrobiologists, Says CU Study
University of Colorado at Boulder researchers say a bizarre group of microbes found living inside rocks in an inhospitable geothermal environment at Wyoming's Yellowstone National Park could provide tantalizing new clues about ancient life on Earth and help steer the hunt for evidence of life on Mars. The CU-Boulder research team reported the microbes were discovered in the pores of rocks in a highly acidic environment with high concentrations of metals and silicates at roughly 95 degrees F in Yellowstone's Norris Geyser Basin. The new study shows the microbe communities are subject to fossilization and have the potential to become preserved in the geologic record. (more)

CU President's "Economic Indicators 2005" Report Highlights TTO
CU technology builds business, and the TTO is a major contributor to the University's impact on the Colorado economy. An excerpt from the report states that "CU technology has been used to start more than 40 companies since 1995, 38 of which remain operational today. Nine new companies were founded in FY 2004 alone. Nearly 200 exclusive and non-exclusive licenses are in effect for developing and marketing CU technology. Forty-three Colorado companies hold exclusive licenses. In 2004, CU completed 41 exclusive and nonexclusive licenses and option agreements." (more)

TTO's Learning Laboratory: The Student Connection

The HSC Technology Transfer Office Welcomes New Student Employee Diana Zakaryan
Diana Zakaryan joined the Health Sciences TTO in March, 2005 as our new Data Entry/Marketing Assistant. She is a PhD candidate in Mathematics at theUniversity of Colorado's Downtown Denver campus. Diana is originally from Armenia where she attended Yerevan State University and received a Bachelor's Degree in Economics. She studied for her Master's Degree in the department of Math Finance before she transferred to the University of Colorado to begin her PhD program. Diana commented that she looks forward to coming to work every day because of the nice people in the Tech Transfer Office. She also feels that we are doing very important work in theTTO by helping scientists connect with industry to contribute knowledge back into the community.

Technology Transfer Summer Orientation to Be Held in Late May/Early July
The CU Technology Transfer Office will be holding a two-day Summer Orientation Program on Tuesday, May 31, 2005 and Wednesday, June 1, 2005. All are welcome to attend as the topics will provide valuable insight into the processes and procedures of securing and licensing intellectual property in general and the operation of the CU Technology Transfer Office specifically. An online agenda is available for viewing and attendees are encouraged to review it to determine which sessions should prove most valuable to them. RSVP is not necessary. (more)

Spotlight On:

CU-Boulder's Technology of the Month CU HSC's Technology of the Month CU's Company of the Month
CU1407B - A Novel Gene Regulator of Cancer Cell Invasion CU1064H - Diagnosis of Diseases and Monitoring of Therapy Success Using Gene Expression Analysis of Peripheral Blood Cells Keystone Biomedical, Inc.
Using a novel proteomics strategy, a protein induced in response to RhoA that shows increased expression in cancer cells of metastatic origin was identified. Melanoma cell lines derived from varying tumor stages were analyzed; BC001703, a previously hypothetical protein, was found to be induced by RhoA and upregulated in metastatic cells. Expression of this gene is necessary for metastatic cancer cell invasion. It was found to localize to membrane ruffles at the leading edges of cells, and most likely functions to promote actin polymerization events that control cell motility and invasion. This protein has been named MRDI or Mediator of Rho-Dependent Invasion.

RNAi suppression studies indicate that MRDI promotes the tyrosine phosphorylation of focal adhesion kinase and paxillin and their recruitment to focal adhesions. However, it does not affect ROCK-dependent stress fiber formation. The gene does not have clear cut sequence similarities to other characterized genes, other than a 23 amino acid motif at the C-terminal portion which has been found in non-catalytic subunits of the eIF2B protein complex thus yielding little insight into its function. A polyclonal antibody to MRDI has been generated.

Currently, shRNA is being used to knock down gene expression of MRDI in human metastatic melanoma cells to test the effect on tumor growth and/or metastasis in mouse models.
The inventors have devised effective and precise algorithms for subtyping PH by use of a noninvasive blood sample with a panel of indicative biomarkers. Ultimately, the diagnostic platform would ideally be based upon a high throughput, low cost system detecting the known and validated changes in gene expression of biomarkers associated with the disease of interest. This format would be precise, accurate, scalable, portable, and widely feasible. Alternatively, the technology could be rolled into a more extensive panel of similar diagnostics (i.e. a broad pulmonary biomarker array) for more extensive applications in clinical diagnosis, drug development, or biomedical research.

The technology has potential product streams in diagnostics (from risk-factor determination to disease staging), prognostics, genetic-based medicine (pharmacogenomics/customized treatment), and most immediately, clinical drug development.

University of Colorado has pending patent protection on a broad variety of diagnostic and theranostic uses of this panel of biomarkers.
Keystone Biomedical is a privately held, Colorado-based pharmaceutical company dedicated to commercializing bucillamine -- its primary drug development program -- for the prevention and treatment of major diseases lacking safe and effective therapeutic options. Bucillamine is the most potent thiol anti-oxidant tested and was characterized by Dr. Lawrence Horwitz, Professor of Medicine at the University of Colorado and the former Head of the Division of Cardiology. The worldwide rights to bucillamine were licensed exclusively to Keystone through the TTO.

Oxidative damage is a major factor in many diseases and syndromes. As a result, bucillamine may have a beneficial impact across multiple therapeutic areas. Keystone is currently focusing on bucillamine's lead application: the prevention of cardiac tissue damage following heart attack. Recent improvements in the acute care of heart attack patients have dramatically improved the odds of surviving the initial event. Many individuals, however, face a daunting long-term prognosis. The greater the amount of damage to the heart tissue from lack of oxygen (ischemia) and the cascade of reactive oxygen species formation following re-establishing circulation to the heart (reperfusion injury), the higher the likelihood of developing congestive heart failure. Bucillamine has been shown highly effective in preventing much of this damage, and thus, may significantly reduce the incidence of CHF, the leading cost-center for US hospitals. A phase II trial in heart attack patients is scheduled to begin later this year. Other applications for bucillamine include the prevention and treatment of allergy- and pollution-induced asthma, and as a medical device for the preservation of donor organs during transplantation, with phase II studies in both areas slated to begin within the next 18 months. In addition to its bucillamine program, Keystone has a well developed pipeline of follow-on compounds currently undergoing preclinical assessment.

The company is led by Dr. Michael Artinger, past recipient of the CU TTO Business Advisor of the Year Award, and a management team with over 50-years of combined biopharmaceutical experience. They are supported by a Scientific Advisory Board composed of some of the leading experts in cardiovascular drug development, including Dr. Michael Bristow and Bertram Pitt. For more information about Keystone biomedical, please contact Michael Artinger at 303-379-2882 or martinger@keystonebio.com.

Search our database for licenseable CU Technologies

Technology Transfer Bulletin of the Month

Materials Transfer Agreements

A Materials Transfer Agreement (MTA) is a legally binding contract used for the transfer of research or other tangible material for evaluation and experimental use, but does not transfer title or ownership of the materials to the user. There are outgoing MTAs for sending materials out to either a company or another institution in which we protect the intellectual property of CU's scientists, and there are incoming MTAs from companies and institutions. The agreements focus on biological materials but the agreements are similar for transferring samples of chemical compounds, transgenic animals, other types of tangible research materials and even some types of software.

Upcoming Events

Summer Program Orientation
May 31- June 1, 2005 - The Technology Transfer Office will be holding an orientation session for Summer MBA students on Tuesday, May 31, 2005 and Wednesday, June 1, 2005. This session will be open to anyone who is interested in learning more about technology transfer. The orientation will include a general session about the role of the technology transfer office in the university, the resources our office has to work with and the organizational structure and culture of the university. There will be more specific sessions on licensing technologies and the types of licenses, intellectual property, patentability analysis, market research, resources available to our office, and the process of going from an invention disclosure all the way to a start-up. Members of the business community are welcome to come for the whole orientation, or for topics of interest to them. If you have any questions, contact Gwen Butcher techtran@colorado.edu.

Innovation in the News

Research Tools Patents Debated
The US Supreme Court heard arguments this week from both sides of a 10-year debate that essentially pits the interests of the research tool industry against those of drug developers. The case tests the limits of an imprecise federal law, which states that researchers conducting experiments reasonably related to new drug approvals do not have to pay licensing fees to use proprietary products. One side argues that if extended to cover too many experiments, the exemption could hurt the research tool industry, which depends on licensing fees. However, as it stands, those fees may be limiting drug development, the opponents note.

NIH Updates Public Access Policy
The policy took effect May 2, 2005. The Policy requests and strongly encourages all NIH-funded investigators to make their peer-reviewed author's final manuscripts available to other researchers and the public at the NIH National Library of Medicine's PubMed Central (PMC) [see http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov] immediately after the final date of journal publication. At the time of submission, authors are given the option to release their manuscripts at a later time, up to 12 months after the official date of final publication. NIH expects that only in limited cases will authors deem it necessary to select the longest delay period.

Venture Investors Are Shifting from Biotech Companies
Venture capitalists are investing less in biotechnology and more in Internet companies, according to initial data for the first quarter this year. While there are no signs that venture capitalists have picked up or slowed down their overall investment pace, they appear to have pulled back from biotech, the hottest sector of the past two years, according to a survey to be released today by VentureOne and Ernst & Young. However, measuring quarterly trends is tricky because venture capitalists like to keep their bets secret. It takes weeks, sometimes months or years, for some investments to be reported.

Institute Lures Big Biotechs
QB3, the University of California's new research institution, is forging master agreements with the world's two largest biotech companies -- Amgen Inc. and Genentech Inc. -- opening the door to a host of collaborative projects. QB3, the California Institute for Quantitative Bi omedical Research, is a cooperative effort between private industry and UC campuses at San Francisco, Berkeley and Santa Cruz. It seeks to harness private and university scientists to attack complex problems of biology in the hope of leading to discoveries that can be a foundation for new products and new technologies to benefit human health.

Biotechs Join Lobbying Effort for Carefully Crafted Patent Law Changes
Biotechs and other members of the technology industry are pressing Congress to craft changes in the U.S. patent laws to stop frivolous lawsuits without discouraging innovation or harming small companies. At issue is the practice of obtaining patent rights on products and suing for patent infringement when other companies produce a product that may have a component that has already been patented by someone else.

PATENT REFORM: House IP Subcommittee Prepares Sweeping Patent Law Changes
In late April a recently drafted legislative proposal was prepared by the House Subcommittee on Intellectual Property chaired by Congressman Lamar Smith (R Tex). Although the proposal is merely a discussion draft at this point, it was expected that a parallel Bill would be introduced only a few days later. The Senate's newly formed Subcommittee on Intellectual Property was scheduled to hold a hearing on the patent system on April 25th. It is quite possible that this proposal will serve as an agenda for the Senate hearings.

E-mails Poach IQ, Researcher Says
Constant e-mailing and text messaging reduces mental ability by 10 IQ points, a more severe effect than smoking cannabis, by distracting the brain from other tasks, a University of London report showed. The loss of intelligence and disruption caused by electronic "info-mania," costs companies millions of dollars in lost productivity each year, according to the study by the University's Institute of Psychiatry.

 
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