Thursday, June 5, 2014

Ocugen Commercializing Two CU Biological Drugs to Treat Eye Diseases

One licensed drug candidate has received FDA orphan designation to treat retinitis pigmentosa, allowing for accelerated development. 

AURORA (Jun. 5, 2014) – Ocugen, Inc. and the University of Colorado today announced exclusive license agreements that will allow Ocugen to continue developing two drug candidates for the treatment for ophthalmology indications, and that one of the assets, OCU100, recombinant lens epithelium derived growth factor 1-326 (LEDGF1-326), received orphan-drug status from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for treatment of retinitis pigmentosa (RP), a rare eye disease.

“Orphan drug designation from the FDA’s Office of Orphan Products Development is a significant milestone that will allow Ocugen to accelerate the clinical development of OCU100, which has the potential to be the first approved therapeutic for retinitis pigmentosa,” said Shankar Musunuri, PhD, MBA, founder and chairman of the Ocugen Board of Directors.

Ocugen scientific founder and board member Uday Kompella, PhD, a professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Ophthalmology and Bioengineering at CU’s Anschutz Medical Campus, is the inventor of OCU100. Ocugen licensed all assets related to LEDGF, including LEDGF1-326 and OCU200, an anti-angiogenic tumstatin fusion protein, to be developed for treatment of wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD), from the University of Colorado in March 2014.

Retinitis pigmentosa is a rare eye disease caused by inherited gene mutations that lead to retinal degeneration affecting approximately 100,000 people in the United States, according to the Foundation Fighting Blindness. People with RP experience a gradual decline in their vision because photoreceptor cells in the retina die. It is a progressive disorder, and most people with RP are legally blind by age 40. There is no FDA approved therapeutic for RP.

“OCU100 has shown potential as a promising therapeutic agent for treating retinitis pigmentosa by reducing protein aggregation and associated cellular stresses, which are known to contribute to this condition,” said Dr. Kompella. “With impressive preclinical data, we look forward to progressing with a phase 1 study for safety and tolerability in patients sometime in 2015.”

Dr. Kompella said a variety of mutations, including P23H mutation in rhodopsin, a critical protein in the retina that is responsible for vision, have been linked to the development of RP. P23H rhodopsin is known to form large clusters or aggregates within retinal cells, leading to cellular stress and ultimately cell death.

“The role of mutant proteins such as P23H rhodopsin in RP is clearly evident, and OCU100 has shown the potential to be a therapeutic agent that reduces protein aggregation and associated stresses in retinal cells,” he said. “It has the potential to revolutionize the treatment of RP.”

About Orphan Drug Designation
FDA Office of Orphan Products Development (OOPD) grants orphan designation for novel drugs or biologics that treat a rare disease or condition affecting fewer than 200,000 patients in the U.S. Orphan designation qualifies the sponsor of the drug for various development incentives of the Orphan Drug Act (ODA) including seven-year period of U.S. marketing exclusivity, tax credits for qualified clinical testing, waiver of prescription drug user fee for marketing application, and ability to apply for grants. The OOPD also works on rare disease issues with the medical and research communities, professional organizations, academia, governmental agencies, industry, and rare disease patient groups.

About Ocugen, Inc.
Ocugen is advancing novel biologicals discovered based on endogenous proteins with well understood biology at the molecular, cellular, and whole animal level to treat eye diseases. The therapeutic proteins in the pipeline are derived from cell survival factors such as lens epithelium derived growth factor (LEDGF) and anti-angiogenic proteins such as tumstatin. The intellectual property covers a variety of related protein constructs including fusion proteins with superior activity. www.ocugen.com.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

TTO Announces CU Denver, Anschutz Medical Campus Technology Transfer Awards

Researchers and companies working on improved medical devices and innovative diagnostic approaches are among those honored for technology commercialization.

AURORA (Jun. 3, 2014) – The University of Colorado Technology Transfer Office (TTO) presented awards yesterday to University of Colorado Denver and Anschutz Medical Campus researchers, companies and advisors who best represent both the spirit of innovation at CU and best practices in commercialization of university technologies.

In the last two decades, inventions by researchers from CU’s four campuses have led to the formation of 132 new companies. Of these, 89 have operations in Colorado, seven have “gone public,” becoming publicly traded companies (either through an IPO or via a reverse merger), and 18 have been acquired by public companies. In total, companies created based on CU technology have attracted over $6.2 billion in financing. Four FDA-approved drugs have resulted from CU innovations, positively impacting the lives of millions of patients.

“Year after year, CU faculty continue to impress by bringing clinically relevant innovations in the door, and successfully engaging advisors and entrepreneurs to bring those innovations to life,” said Rick Silva, senior director of technology transfer for CU Denver|Anschutz. “We are especially delighted that this year’s innovators are all positively and directly impacting patient care right now, by virtue of the use of their innovations in the clinic.”

The researchers and company recognized this year are developing innovative diagnostics and medical devices. This year’s award winners include:

Robert C. Doebele, Inventor of the Year, CU Denver|Anschutz. Doebele is an Associate Professor in the Division of Medical Oncology at the CU School of Medicine, and a physician at University of Colorado Hospital. His research focuses on oncogenic gene fusions in lung cancer, using molecular, cellular, genetic, and translational approaches to elucidate both the sensitivity and cellular resistance to oncogene-targeted therapy. Since 2012, Doebele has worked with TTO to commercialize two novel companion diagnostics to guide therapy for NSCLC patients, both of which are currently being licensed for development by a large molecular diagnostics company.

Christopher M. Yakacki, New Inventor of the Year, CU Denver|Anschutz. Yakacki is an Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at CU’s Denver campus, where he runs the Smart Materials and Biomechanics (SMAB) Lab. Since joining CU’s faculty in 2012, he has fabricated a medical imaging accessory device to solve an unmet need brought to him by clinicians in interventional radiology, with a prototype device being used on patients within months of initial development; he has also worked with TTO on two subsequent ideas that have received positive early commercial feedback.

Steve VanNurden, Business Advisor of the Year. VanNurden is President and CEO of the Fitzsimons Redevelopment Authority. He came to Colorado in 2012 from the Mayo Clinic, where he had responsibilities ranging from the establishment of Mayoclinic.com, to managing a venture portfolio, to overseeing a technology licensing and commercialization enterprise. VanNurden’s experience in new enterprise formation, investing, and commercial development has been readily available and invaluable to TTO and to CU faculty members working towards commercializing CU research.

EndoShape, CU Denver|Anschutz Company of the Year. EndoShape is a medical device company in the coil embolization and occlusion market. The company was founded based on shape memory polymer technology licensed from CU in 2007, from the laboratory of Robin Shandas, who remains on the board and executive team of EndoShape today. The company’s Medusa™ Vascular Plug product received 510(k) marketing clearance and will be commercially available in 2014, with the potential to positively impact the 50,000 U.S. patients who have peripheral vascular embolization procedures each year.

Awards to researchers and startups at other CU campuses were presented at separate campus events in April.

See also:

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

May Newsletter Now Available

Top stories from TTO's May 2014 newsletter:

Technology Transfer Awards for Boulder, Colorado Springs 
In April, TTO presented awards to researchers and companies from CU's Boulder (link) and Colorado Springs (link) campuses who best represent both the spirit of innovation at CU and best practices in commercialization of university technologies. Awards to CU researchers, startups and advisors at CU Denver|Anschutz will be presented in June 2014.

TTO has released an updated CU Startups poster providing info on financings, acquisitions and more for companies created based on CU technology since the early 1990's. Click on the image at right for an interactive PDF including links to CU startups.

Advanced Industries Win Support in Colorado Legislature

Forget Clip-On Trackers and Wristbands: This Smart Shoe Insole Will Track Your Physical Activity

Omni Bio Pharmaceutical Announces $3M Private Financing Plan

New Malleable, Recyclable Plastic Developed at CU

Monday, April 21, 2014

TTO Announces Boulder Campus Technology Transfer Awards

Researchers and companies working on ultrafast lasers, ultracold matter and DNA sequencing methods are among those honored for technology commercialization.

BOULDER (Apr. 21, 2014) – The University of Colorado Technology Transfer Office (TTO) will present awards this week to University of Colorado Boulder researchers and companies who best represent both the spirit of innovation at CU-Boulder and best practices in commercialization of university technologies.

In the last two decades, inventions by researchers from CU’s four campuses have led to the formation of 132 new companies. Of these, 89 have operations in Colorado, seven have “gone public,” becoming publicly traded companies (either through an IPO or via a reverse merger), and 18 have been acquired by public companies. In total, companies created based on CU technology have attracted over $6.2 billion in financing.

“TTO is pleased to take this opportunity to highlight the contributions that these researchers and companies have made to their fields,” said MaryBeth Vellequette, director of technology transfer for CU-Boulder. “Their commitment not only to performing world-class research but also to creating real-world impact for their work deserves recognition – congratulations to Drs. Kapteyn, Murnane, Chatterjee and Nagpal, and to Dr. Anderson and the ColdQuanta team.”

The researchers and company recognized this year are developing technologies that are helping push the envelope in physics and medical testing. This year’s award winners include:


Henry C. Kapteyn and Margaret Murnane, Inventors of the Year, CU-Boulder. Kapteyn and Murnane are both physics professors at CU-Boulder, as well as members of JILA, a joint institute of CU-Boulder and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The Kapteyn-Murnane research group develops ultrafast lasers and x-rays, which have important applications in research on natural processes and in the visualization of other nano-scale processes for the development of nano devices. In 1994, Kapteyn and Murnane founded KMLabs to commercialize their work and make their innovations available to academic and industry researchers, and (more recently) to companies developing technologies such as micromachining.

 Anushree Chatterjee and Prashant Nagpal, New Inventors of the Year, CU-Boulder. Chatterjee and Nagpal are assistant professors of chemical and biological engineering at CU-Boulder. In their joint research, they have developed a platform technology for fast, reliable, high-throughput and cost effective single-molecule sequencing of nucleic acids; this kind of sequencing is an important step in the development of new diagnostic tools for personalized medicine, as well as in rapid identification of DNA sequences that allow bacteria to develop drug resistance. Chatterjee and Nagpal are working with TTO to develop a commercial pathway for this technology.



ColdQuanta, Boulder Company of the Year. ColdQuanta produces high performance, cutting edge cold and ultracold atom technology. Their products utilize Bose-Einstein Condensate (BEC), a new form of matter created just above absolute zero, with potential applications in a wide range of research and commercial settings, ranging from atomic clocks to improved navigation of submarines and spacecraft, and even quantum computing. The company grew out of decades of research by CU-Boulder physics professor and JILA member Dana Anderson, who also serves as the company’s CTO.

Awards to CU researchers, startups and advisors at other CU campuses will be presented at separate campus events in April and June.

See also:

CU Startups: Update Now Available!

TTO has released an updated CU Startups poster providing info on financings, acquisitions and more for companies created based on CU technology since the early 1990's. Click on the image for an interactive PDF including links to CU startups:

Friday, April 11, 2014

UCCS Biophysicist Receives CU New Inventor of the Year Award

UCCS biophysics researcher Janusz Hankiewicz will be recognized by the CU Technology Transfer Office for his work with next-generation medical imaging. 

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Apr. 11, 2014) – The University of Colorado Technology Transfer Office (TTO) will present an award today honoring Janusz Hankiewicz, Ph.D. for his efforts in developing and commercializing new medical imaging contrast agents. Hankiewicz, a member of CU’s BioFrontiers Center and a research associate at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs (UCCS), will receive the award during today’s Mountain Lion Research Day luncheon at UCCS.

Hankiewicz’s research focuses on diagnostic medical imaging techniques like magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), nuclear magnetic resonance imaging (NMRI) and positron emission tomography (PET). Along with his UCCS colleagues, he has developed improved imaging procedures as well as several improved contrast agents – substances used to enhance the visibility of body structures like blood vessels during medical imaging procedures.

 In spring 2014, Hankiewicz and his collaborators were selected to receive a proof-of-concept award under the State of Colorado’s Bioscience Discovery and Evaluation Grant (BDEG) program. The grant will allow the team to further develop a novel contrast agent designed to provide precise internal temperature measurements, which can be used to detect some cancers and some types of inflammation. Additionally, temperature mapping is used to monitor the tissues surrounding metal implants during imaging procedures, and to guide certain therapeutic procedures. By providing precise, non-invasive 3D temperature sensing, this novel contrast agent represents a major improvement over conventional temperature monitoring, which is usually performed with invasive, single-point measurements.

Awards to CU researchers, startups and advisors at other CU campuses will be presented at separate campus events in April and June.

See also:

Thursday, March 27, 2014

March Newsletter Now Available

Top stories from TTO's March 2014 newsletter:

From Classrooms to Capitalism: CU's Tech Transfer Office Aims to Turn Big Ideas into Businesses
ColoradoBiz feature story on CU's tech transfer program, featuring CU startup Double Helix.

OcuTherix Developing CU Next-Generation Glaucoma Treatment
OcuTherix, Inc. and CU have completed an exclusive license that will allow the company to continue developing a new non-invasive procedure for the treatment of glaucoma that uses patent-pending technology developed at CU.

Advanced Conductor Technologies Commercializing CU High Performance Superconducting Cable
Advanced Conductor Technologies and CU have completed an exclusive license agreement that allows the company to continue its work developing high-temperature superconducting cables to provide flexible, high-current density power transmission.

GlobeImmune Will Try Again to Go Public 
CU startup GlobeImmune Inc., which called off its IPO last year, filed a registration statement for an initial public offering, which says the company hopes to raise $35M from the IPO. The company is developing its Tarmogen vaccine platform for cancer and infectious disease.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

OcuTherix Developing CU Next-Generation Glaucoma Treatment

With the help of a device developed at CU, a new glaucoma procedure could offer patients a non-drug, non-surgical treatment option. 

AURORA, Colo., March 19, 2014 – OcuTherix, Inc. and the University of Colorado (CU) have completed an exclusive license that will allow the company to continue developing a new non-invasive procedure for the treatment of glaucoma that uses patent-pending technology developed at CU.

Glaucoma is a leading cause of worldwide blindness, and is treated by lowering the fluid pressure inside the eye (intraocular pressure). Topical eye-drop medications are often used to lower eye pressure, but because these medications can cause discomfort, patients often fail to take them correctly and consistently. Laser and surgical procedures are also used to reduce eye pressure; however, these techniques are fraught with complications and do not consistently reduce eye pressure in the long term.

A research team led by Malik Kahook, MD, Slater Family Endowed Chair in Ophthalmology at the CU School of Medicine, has developed a compact, non-invasive device that uses carefully calibrated external sonic oscillation to stimulate drainage of the eye’s fluid, reducing eye pressure. This innovative procedure, called Deep Wave Trabeculoplasty (DWT), is intended to be an efficient, safe and effective in-office treatment.







Image: OcuTherix rendering of the DWT device developed at CU.









Studies have shown that DWT does not cause tissue damage and lowers eye pressure consistently. An ongoing clinical study is intended to demonstrate that DWT has long-lasting benefits and can be repeated when needed. “The initial DWT study in humans revealed consistent eye pressure lowering without adverse events,” said Kahook. “Our team believes that DWT will play a significant role in the treatment of glaucoma in the United States and across the globe.”

“Gradual vision loss is devastating, and I am proud to be working with outstanding partners to develop DWT as we strive to save vision in people with glaucoma,” added OcuTherix CEO Robert Atkinson. “I strongly believe that DWT represents a new age in glaucoma treatment.”

“We believe this device represents a completely novel approach to the treatment of glaucoma, and the University is excited to work with a company that will help Dr. Kahook develop such a pioneering technique,” said David Poticha of CU’s Technology Transfer Office.

About OcuTherix, Inc.
OcuTherix, a spin-out company of medical device incubator Prospex Medical, Inc., is dedicated to medical device innovation to save vision in people with glaucoma. CAUTION: Deep Wave Trabeculoplasty (DWT) is an investigational device and is not approved for sale. www.ocutherix.com

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Advanced Conductor Technologies Commercializing CU High Performance Superconducting Cable


Company advancing work on thinner, more versatile superconducting cables for nuclear fusion power, military power transmission. 

BOULDER, Colo., March 6, 2014 - Advanced Conductor Technologies and the University of Colorado have completed an exclusive license agreement that allows the company to continue its work developing high-temperature superconducting cables to provide flexible, high-current density power transmission.

High-temperature superconducting (HTS) cables were initially developed for use in metropolitan electrical networks because of their efficiency and large transmission capacity. Danko van der Laan, a physicist with appointments at CU-Boulder and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), has developed a technique to make thinner, more flexible HTS cables that can carry the same (or greater) current. These more-compact cables (conductor on round core, CORC) have immediate applications in electrical grids and scientific and medical equipment; they may also enable HTS power transmission for military applications and in data centers.


[Image: A coil and cross-section of the high-temperature superconducting cable invented by van der Laan. In the center are copper wires bundled with nylon and plastic insulation. The outer rings are a series of superconducting tapes wrapped in spirals around the copper]


After optioning the technology from CU in 2012, the company received a Phase II Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grant for $1M from the U.S. Department of Energy to develop its CORC cables for use in powerful magnets that can be used to generate nuclear fusion power. The company began work on this grant in April 2013. Earlier this year, the company was also awarded a Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the U.S. Navy to develop its CORC cables for shipboard power transmission cables.

“We recently received our first commercial order for a high-current CORC magnet cable and are currently winding the cable needed to fill the order,” said van der Laan. “We’re optimistic that more orders will follow, enabling us to scale up our cabling facility.” The company has leased space in Boulder and has expanded its staff to three full-time employees.

“In collaboration with ACT, the university has filed for extensive international patent coverage of this valuable technology,” added Ted Weverka of the CU Technology Transfer Office. “We are proud to be working with ACT, and excited to see such an aggressive startup spin out of the university.”

About Advanced Conductor Technologies
Advanced Conductor Technologies LLC focuses on the commercialization of high-temperature superconducting cables using the new cable technology developed by its founder, Danko van der Laan, while at the University of Colorado Boulder and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The cable technology opens the door to new markets that require flexible, high-current density power transmission cables. It also forms the basis for the first practical superconducting cable for high-field magnets that operate at magnetic fields above 20 Tesla, or at temperatures exceeding 20 Kelvin. http://advancedconductor.com.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

February Newsletter Now Available

Top stories from TTO's February 2014 newsletter:

Tissue Fusion to Commercialize Laser Surgical Device
Tissue Fusion and CU recently completed a license agreement that will allow the company to continue developing a new surgical device that utilizes lasers, rather than staples and sutures, to close wounds during nasal surgery. 

SixOne Solutions Developing Targeted Breast Cancer Therapy
SixOne Solutions and CU have completed an exclusive license agreement, allowing the company to develop new, targeted therapeutics for treating and preventing the spread of breast cancer with far fewer expected side effects than traditional chemotherapy.

Interview: Innovation Center of the Rockies
CU's longtime partner Innovation Center of the Rockies received a national award from the State Science & Technology Institute (SSTI) for its work in commercializing university research in the Rocky Mountain region.

TTO Annual Report for 2012-13 Now Available 
TTO is pleased to announce that our annual report covering our activities from July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013 is now available for viewing (PDF).