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News and Events > Newsletters > Monthly Newsletter: June 2005


University of Colorado Technology Transfer Office

Monthly Newsletter


Volume 1 ~ Issue 10 ~ June 2005

Today at the TTO

TTO's Proof of Concept Program (POC) Closes Second Application Round

Finalists for the TTO's newly launched POC investment program concluded their presentations to venture capital judges on April 22nd. The Spring round represented only the second time POC funds were made available to the most promising university technology-based start-up companies seeking seed funding. Fourteen applicants submitted proposals with 12 specifying primary applications in life sciences and the balance coming from the physical sciences and software. Spring round awardees in the life sciences are OncoLight, Inc., a cross-disciplinary effort combining life science and physical science expertise which seeks to develop an instant biopsy device using light to detect cancer, and Windom Peak Pharmaceutical, a company seeking to develop novel antibiotics to treat infectious disease. The winner among physical science applicants was Securics, Inc., which develops and markets biometric security technologies.

The Proof of Concept (POC) program makes seed investments ranging from $50,000 to $100,000 in start-up companies based on promising CU technologies. The next round of the POC program will open in the fall of 2005. For more information on the POC fund or start up activity at CU, contact Tom Smerdon, Director of Business Development, TTO: Tom.Smerdon@cu.edu.

Summer Project Focused on Speech Recognition
This year, CU has signed two non-exclusive licenses for the SONIC large vocabulary speech recognizer, developed by Dr. Brian Pellom and Dr. Kadri Hacioglu at the Center for Spoken Language Research. The software is a complete toolkit for research and development of new algorithms for continuous speech recognition. SONIC continues to attract attention. The challenge for Tech Transfer is to develop a standard license that allows companies to profitably develop SONIC while also providing a fair return for the University, the inventors, and their department. Matt Caton is a MBA summer intern assigned to this project. Matt is developing four different licensing options depending upon where a company operates within the value chain (as a toolkit developer, a system integrator, a service firm, or a software retailer). Matt will base the royalty structure on the proportion of value SONIC will add to the overall end product or service. There are currently five companies in discussions for nonexclusive licenses to SONIC. Standard licenses should be available online by the end of the summer. For more information on SONIC, see the CSLR Website.

TTO Seeks to Hire New Life Sciences Licensing Associate
Recent job listings in the Denver Post and online at the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM) direct readers to an online job description for the latest position within the Technology Transer Office: Life Sciences Licensing Associate. For further information, please see the recent posting.

CU Technology and Licensee Companies in the News

UCHSC's Dr. Michael Vasil Named Project Director in New Regional Center for Excellence for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases
Dr. Michael Vasil has been named Project Director for HSC's role in a $40 million grant establishing a Regional Center of Excellence (RCE) for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases at Colorado State University. The RCE draws on expertise of scientists throughout the Rocky Mountain region for studying organisms that can be exploited for bio-warfare uses. (more)

Myogen Announces Expansion of Drug Discovery Collaboration: Myogen Achieves Three Milestones Under the Collaboration
Myogen, Inc. recently announced two developments related to its heart muscle disease drug discovery collaboration with Novartis. First, the collaboration has been expanded to include Myogen's histone deacetylase inhibitor (HDACi) program. Second, Myogen announced that it had achieved three development milestones under the parties' existing research collaboration for the discovery and development of novel drugs for the treatment of cardiovascular disease. (more)

CU is a Colorado Profit Center
In a recent interview Jack Burns, VP, Academic Affairs & Research has identified that the University of Colorado contributes over $4 billion to the state's economy annually. Dr. Burns contends that CU is a world-class institution and conducts research in many high-tech areas including biosciences, aerospace, nanotech and a full range of emerging technologies, all aimed at developing the workforce. He bolsters his argument that CU is a Colorado profit center with hard statistics: for each $1.00 that CU receives from the State General Fund, the university returns $1.04 to state treasuries. Listen to Dr. Burns in a recent interview on W3W3 radio by accessing the W3W3 website.

Competitive Technologies Licenses Homocysteine Assay to Axis-Shield
Under the agreement Axis-Shield is granted a license under the CTT patent and will pay royalties on US sales of Axis-Shield homocysteine assay products. The negotiated agreement between CTT and Axis-Shield includes payment for past homocysteine tests sold by Axis-Shield and its client, Bio-Rad Laboratories, Inc. (AMEX: BIO), and an up-front license fee. Axis-Shield's homocysteine assay customers, other than those with unsettled litigation matters, will be covered by the Axis-Shield license from CTT. The suits filed by CTT in US District Court against Axis-Shield and Bio-Rad for patent infringement, as well as Axis-Shield's countersuit, will be dropped. (more)

Study IDs Possible Marker of EGFR Inhibitors in Lung Cancer Patients
Patients with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) whose tumor cells contain extra copies of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) gene may be more likely to respond to the drug gefitinib (Iressa), and this high gene copy number may be an effective predictor of gefitinib efficacy, according to a new study in the May 4 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. To investigate possible predictive markers for gefitinib efficacy, Fred R. Hirsch, MD, PhD, and colleagues evaluated EGFR status, gene copy number, and protein expression and Akt activation status in 102 patients with advanced NSCLC. (more)

Science Magazine Publishes CU Paper on Photoinduced Plasticity in Cross-Linked Polymers
CU inventor Chris Bowman's work with cross-linked polymers was featured in the recent issue of Science Magazine. This important work has applications in reinforced composite material development and offers the potential of further shaping a polymer-based item after it has already been molded without the use of high-temperatures. (more)

CU Team Identifies Crucial Diabetes Clue
University of Colorado researchers have identified a crucial target of attack by the immune-system that leads to Type 1 diabetes, which afflicts more than 1.3 million Americans. In Type 1 diabetes the body turns against itself and destroys insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. For years, researchers have tried to determine what prompts this autoimmune assault. Disrupting the first steps could lead to therapies that block the disease, formerly known as juvenile-onset diabetes. Now a University of Colorado Health Sciences Center team working with genetically altered mice has uncovered the strongest evidence to date that insulin itself triggers the onslaught. (more)

NIH Funds Research at Rose Biomedical and University of Colorado to Develop Miniaturized Medical Robotic Tool
Denver-based Rose Biomedical, with partner University of Colorado, announced that they have secured a Phase I, National Institutes of Health Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grant for $151,892 from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to initiate research and develop "proof-of-concept" data for the MicroFlex scope, a new flexible, miniaturized diagnostic and surgical tool. The tool, with a 3-mm diameter design, will have flexibility to navigate small areas in the body, such as the sinuses, lung, ear, etc. The tool is designed to contain optics for direct visualization of surrounding tissue, as well as channels to conduct surgical work, such as obtaining tissue samples for biopsy and delivering medication. Ken Weil, Rose Biomedical President, says, "The research on the initial application, navigating the sinuses, will be conducted by Dr. Dale Lawrence, inventor and a University of Colorado at Boulder professor, and Dr. Todd Kingdom, Director, Rhinology and Sinus Surgery at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center." (more)

CDC Grants $2.8 Million to Marion Downs Hearing Center
The University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center has received a $2.8 million federal grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the development and expansion of programs at the Marion Downs Hearing Center at the Fitzsimons campus. The CDC funds will be used to support the infrastructure of the center including equipment, computers, furniture and supplies, as well as new programs and research.

TTO's Learning Laboratory: The Student Connection

Eleven Summer Interns Join TTO in 2005
This summer brings many new faces to the TTO as interns in various programs within the department. This summer's three intern programs involve administrative activities, legal assistance, and work on the Colorado Technology Commercialization Partnership (CTCP) with 11 total students joining the program this year. Bios of this summer's staff can be found on the TTO website. (more)

Spotlight On:

CU-Boulder's Technology of the Month CU HSC's Technology of the Month CU's Company of the Month
CU1370B - Stress Relaxation in Crosslinked Polymers CU1254H - Prediction of Response to Gefitinib by Non-Small Cell Lung Carcinoma Patients Geron Corporation
The Problem - Internal stress buildup during polymerization of a crosslinked network is a typical result of polymerization shrinkage. This stress may decrease the ultimate mechanical properties of the polymer and/or limit its applications. For example, in optical materials internal stress may introduce unwanted birefringence and in dental materials result in unwanted shrinkage.

The Solution - Internal stress is relieved through reversible cleavage of the polymer backbone, accomplished by incorporating "reversible chain cleavage" groups into the polymer backbone. Under appropriate conditions, reversible cleavage is activated; this can be done either during or after polymerization, or both.

Significant Advantages of the Technology

  • Provide photoinduced plasticity, actuation and equilibrium shape changes without any accompanying residual stress
  • Possible to alter the topology of the network without permanently changing the chemistry and network connectivity
  • Applicable to a variety of polymeric materials, including polymeric coatings, fiber re-inforced materials and optical materials
  • List of suitable monomers for use employing this technology is large
  • Stress can be relieved without the use of high temperatures

Potential Applications

  • Arbitrary shapes can be obtained after cure (i.e. molding)
  • Alleviate unwanted birefringence in optical materials
  • Eliminate shrinkage stress in dental materials, reinforced composites
  • Introduce stress gradients in cross-linked materials, allowing shape-change or actuation phenomena
Biomarkers and a test predictive of EGFr inhibitors responses in patients, could help doctors pick out patients who should be treated with Iressa, which has remarkable effects in a small percentage of patients, 10-15%. Non-small cell lung cancer accounts for about 85 percent of all cases of lung cancer, which killed more than 157,000 men and women in the United States last year. Just 15 percent of patients survive more than five years. Iressa was the first drug to work well against lung cancer, but it helps fewer than 15 percent of patients. In non-small cell lung cancer, the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) gene is mutated and the cells proliferate out of control to form a deadly tumor. Iressa, known generically as gefitinib, targets EGFR. Last year researchers identified a specific mutation in EGFR that predicted who would be helped by Iressa. But it is not a precise test, as some people without the mutation were helped by the drug and some people with the mutation developed resistance. Examining EGFr gene copy number and protein in patients has far greater positive and negative response predictive value than mutations (12 fold enrichment of responders over an unselected patient population), and consequently is currently the best mode to enhance efficacy of Iressa and other EGFR inhibitors.
In 1992, Geron Corp. started researching telomeres, the components of DNA that cap the tips of chromosomes, assigning them a crucial role in both aging and cell proliferation in tumors. The company's license agreement with CU dates to 1996, shortly after Dr. Tom Cech (Dept. of Chemistry & Biochemistry) published his discovery of novel telomerase protein sequences. In 1994, Geron researchers had cloned the RNA component of human telomerase (hTR); a team of Geron scientists led by Dr. Calvin Harley, together with Dr. Cech and CU graduate students went on to clone human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT) in 1997. Telomerase, an enzyme expressed in nearly all cancer cells, but not in most normal cells, was shown by Geron in 1998 to extend the normal life span of cells in test tubes.

Including patents licensed from CU, Geron prosecutes and maintains an extensive portfolio of international patents covering telomerase and its use. The company's sponsorship of stem cell research at the University of Wisconsin has generated another strong IP position. Initially known for its anti-aging focus, Geron's current mission statement targets "developing and commercializing three groups of products: i) therapeutic products for oncology that target telomerase; ii) pharmaceuticals that activate telomerase in tissues impacted by senescence, injury or degenerative disease; and iii) cell-based therapies derived from its human embryonic stem cell platform for applications in multiple chronic diseases."

Earlier this year, Geron reported data from a Phase 1-2 clinical trial conducted by Duke University of Geron's telomerase therapeutic vaccine for prostate cancer that employs the hTERT protein covered by the joint Geron-CU telomerase patents. In May the FDA approved the initiation of clinical trials for Geron's telomerase inhibitor drug candidate, GRN163L, an oligonucleotide that inhibits telomerase, binding to a region of hTR identified in Geron's 1994 research. The first trials of that drug will be in patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Geron sponsorship at universities and research institutes contributes to steady advances in stem cell production methods and quality. Publications from recent projects indicate that hESC-derived cells someday may benefit transplant patients and repair spinal cord injury, adding to evidence of other regenerative medicine applications including diabetes and cardiac disease.

Geron's agreement with CU provides for research-use transfers of the jointly-patented hTERT gene. Since the hTERT gene was cloned, Geron has made the clone, as well as cells immortalized with hTERT, widely available for research use and in 2004 and 2005 entered into agreements with the American Type Culture Collection and Cambrex Corporation, respectively, to provide these materials to academia and industry. A number of biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies are conducting research in a number of areas using telomerase and telomerase-immortalized cells under research-use licenses. Geron collaborations include licenses with Argos Therapeutics (therapeutic cancer vaccine) and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (telomerase activation to restore the functional capacity of cells damaged by aging, injury or chronic disease).

Search our database for licenseable CU Technologies

Technology Transfer Bulletin of the Month

NIH Data Sharing Policy

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) now requires that certain recipients of NIH awarded grants share their data in order to expedite the translation of research results into knowledge, products, and procedures to improve human health. This bulletin highlights key features and provides links to assist university investigators and administrators seeking NIH funds.

Upcoming Events

Ken Porter Represents CU at the 2005 AUTM Western Regional Meeting
July 24-26, 2005 - Gap Funding is on the agenda for the 2005 Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM) Western Regional Meeting. Ken Porter, TTO's Boulder Campus Director, will represent CU at the meeting, scheduled for July 24-26. Presenters from the Ohio University Innovation Center and the University of Washington will speak about technology development and innovation funding, followed by panel discussion of ways to fund translational research and develop early-stage discoveries into licensable technologies. (more)

BIO 2005 International Convention
June 19-22, 2005 - The 2005 BIO (Biotechnology Industry Corporation) International Convention is occurring June 19th thru 22nd. Taking place in Philadelphia, the convention will host numerous investors, companies, research institutions, and policy makers from around the world. The University of Colorado will join over thirty other Universities in participating in this year's convention. This convention will give the University a chance to network and make connections among other entities in the biotech field, as well as showcase the biotechnology coming out of CU's research. Mary Tapolsky, Life Sciences Licensing Officer, will be representing CU at the convention. To view the presentation Mary has developed, click here.

Innovation in the News

Justices Say Drug Patents Don't Bar Rival Research
The Supreme Court gave drug companies more freedom to develop new disease-fighting therapies, ruling Monday that rival firms' patents do not bar them from starting research on competing medications. The unanimous ruling set aside a lower-court ruling for patent holder Integra LifeSciences Holdings Corp. It means that major pharmaceutical companies such as Eli Lilly & Co. and Pfizer Inc. can start experiments sooner, leading to faster drug development, perhaps billions in savings and lower costs for consumers.

Fitzsimmons Wants Developer to Build Bioscience Park
The Fitzsimons Redevelopment Authority intends to issue a request for proposals within the next month for a private developer to build millions of square feet of research space. The authority is responsible for the redevelopment of the former Fitzsimons Army Medical Center in Aurora. Fitzsimons will become home to the University of Colorado Hospital and The Children's Hospital, in addition to the Fitzsimons Bioscience Park.

Rule Limits Small Biotech Firms
The Small Business Administration is reviewing a rule that requires firms to hold 51% ownership of their businesses to qualify for innovation funding for early research and development of commercially viable drugs or technology. Sequella and other small biotech companies point out venture capital firms often require them to hand over majority ownership in order to get private financing to bring drugs to market.

Building Relationships with Technology Transfer Officers
Good relationships between inventors and technology transfer officers can reap dividends at every stage in the marketing of an invention or in forming a company. Conversely, a lack of communication can play into the hands of investors. The main argument made here is that the formation of startup companies, and effective technology transfer in general, is greatly enhanced by a strong relationship between the scientist entrepreneur and his or her technology transfer professional (TTP). This article looks at various factors that can affect this relationship and the consequences for the researcher and the startup of maintaining a healthy relationship throughout the process.

Biotech Bouncing Back in Colo., U.S.
Income from Colorado-based public biotech companies was up 25 percent to $168 million in 2004, although the number of public companies in the state dropped 13 percent to seven. The drop was primarily due to acquisitions. Last year, Atrix Laboratories Inc. of Fort Collins was acquired by a Canadian pharmaceutical firm.

Biotech Funding Eases in 2004
Alzheimer's disease. Antibiotics. Active biological compounds. The Colorado biotech firms that got venture capital funding last year worked in the "A list" of illnesses and products. In 2004, six of the state's privately held biotechnology companies raised a total of $71.2 million in venture capital financing.

Tech Giants Fight Wireless Patent
Some of the world's largest IT firms are on a collision course with the Australian government's scientific research arm over a patent for wireless local area networks. Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) was awarded the patent in 1996, which it claims relates to technologies used in several of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers' wireless standards. In an announcement on Wednesday, CSIRO said Apple, Dell, HP, Intel, Microsoft and Netgear had initiated legal action to try and get this patent overturned. CSIRO vowed to fight the action, and claimed the technology covered by its patent is "now a standard feature of most notebook computers and many other devices".

Scientific Misconduct Is Rampant, Study Suggests
A survey of more than 3,000 scientists has revealed that a large fraction are acting in ways that could compromise the integrity of research, according to an article published today in Nature. A third of participants in the survey acknowledged that they had engaged in actions such as overlooking others' use of flawed data, failing to present data contradicting one's own work, and circumventing minor requirements of human-subject research. While those actions do not rise to the level of fraud, fabrication, and plagiarism -- the three cardinal sins of research -- they nonetheless signal problems in the world of science....

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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