Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Tech Spotlight: Inhibitors of Mitotic Kinase Mps1 for Cancer Therapy


With a global market for oncology drugs topping $68 billion in 2008, there is a strong demand for identification and validation of new druggable targets. Mitosis is a unique window of opportunity for anti-cancer therapy. Aberrant mitosis in tumor cells often arrests cell proliferation and causes cell death. TTK/Mps1, a dual specificity protein kinase, has emerged as a master regulator of mitosis. In agreement with its proposed function in highly proliferative cells, elevated levels of TTK/Mps1 are found in a variety of human cancer cell lines and primary tumor tissues. The fact that TTK/Mps1 is preferentially associated with hyper-proliferative cancer cells, and that its kinase activity appears to be mitotic-specific, suggests that TTK/Mps1 may be an attractive target for cancer therapeutics.

Xuedong Liu of the University of Colorado recently solved the crystal structure of the TTK/Mps1 kinase domain and elucidated some of the major regulatory mechanisms governing this protein’s function in mitosis. Using an approach that combines compound library screening, structural analysis, and rational drug design, Professor Liu has developed small molecule inhibitors of TTK/Mps1. Sponsored research opportunities are available.

To read a non-confidential summary of this technology, please click the image above. For more CU technologies available for licensing, please visit our Tech Explorer site.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Arch Biopartners Acquires Option to License Anti-Cancer Compounds from CU

TORONTO, Canada - September 21, 2010 - Arch Biopartners Inc. (“Arch” or the “Company”) announced that it has formed a new American subsidiary, Colorado Cancer Therapeutics (“CCT”) with leading University of Colorado biochemists Dr. Lajos Gera and Dr. Robert Hodges. Additionally, CCT has acquired an option to enter into an exclusive license to commercialize specific pre-clinical, anti-cancer compounds invented at the University of Colorado and Emory University by Drs. Lajos Gera, Robert Hodges, Paul Bunn, John Stewart, Dan Chan, and Leland Chung and Daqing Wu.

As consideration for the option, Arch will pay approximately $12,000 USD to CU, and will pay for patent costs incurred during the period of the option. As pre–conditions to exercising the option, Arch will perform further pre-clinical validation studies and assess the commercial viability of the technology. Arch will have up to January 1, 2012 to complete this assessment and exercise the option.

Arch has recently engaged the chemistry services of Dr. Hodges and Dr. Gera as ongoing support for its three existing research platforms.

About CCT
Colorado Cancer Therapeutics was formed to acquire and develop anti-cancer compounds. CCT joins Arch Inflammation, Arch Biophysics and Arch Cancer Therapeutics as the fourth platform in Arch Biopartners’ portfolio. Currently, Arch owns two thirds of the equity of CCT, with the remainder owned by Dr. Gera and Dr. Hodges.

About Arch Biopartners
Arch Biopartners is a portfolio based biotechnology company established to develop new products and technology for sale to pharmaceutical and industrial companies. For more information on the Company, please consult the other public documents including all press releases, management information circular, financial statements and management discussion and analysis filed on SEDAR at www.sedar.com . The company’s website address is www.archbiopartners.com .

Monday, September 20, 2010

September 2010 Newsletter Now Available

Top stories from TTO's September newsletter:

ICVrx Licenses CU Drug Reformulation and Delivery Technology for Brain Disease Treatment
TTO and Aurora, CO-based ICVrx recently completed a license agreement allowing the company to commercialize CU technology for improved treatment of epilepsy and other neurological disorders. Many of the most effective oral medicines for neurological diseases are toxic to the body; although these medicines are non-toxic to the brain, getting the drug into the central nervous system without causing dangerous side effects in the body is a challenge. The licensed technology is a drug reformulation technique that allows these drugs to be administered directly into the fluid around the brain via an implantable pump. This technique enables significantly lower dosages (reducing side effects and toxicity), and can also help overcome patient compliance problems.

Tigon EnerTec to Commercialize CU Hybrid Aircraft Propulsion Technology
TTO recently completed an option agreement with Tigon EnerTec Inc. for CU technology enabling efficient management of hybrid engines in aircraft. A team led by Dr. Jean Koster in the Aerospace Engineering department at the University of Colorado at Boulder have developed a method for switching between an internal combustion engine (powered by conventional fuel or biofuels) and an electric motor (powered by batteries, photovoltaic cells, fuel cells or other alternative power sources). The ability to transition seamlessly between these two motors maximizes overall efficiency and minimizes fuel consumption, while still meeting the high power needs of takeoff and climbing.

GSK Shingles Vaccine Enters Phase III Trials
In August of 2010 GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals announced the commencement of Phase III clinical trials of a herpes zoster (shingles) vaccine that was invented by Dr. Abbas Vafai, formerly of the University of Colorado Denver. The vaccine is based on a proprietary recombinant zoster protein covered by U.S. patents 6,180,369 and 5,824,319, developed in part at the University of Colorado and the University of Illinois. The phase III clinical trial will involve vaccination, at 189 sites worldwide, of over 30,000 individuals 70 years and older and measure the incidence of herpes zoster infections and post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN) cases as primary endpoints. The trial is estimated to be concluded in the summer of 2014. This program represents the second herpes zoster vaccine developed at the University of Colorado to advance to Phase III; the previous program led to the registration of Zostavax® (Merck, Whitehouse Station, NJ) in 2006.

CU TTO Reports Performance Metrics for FY2009-10
TTO has released its performance metrics for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2010. Please follow this link to a short presentation summarizing our performance, and look for our full annual report in October 2010.

Read the full newsletter, or sign up to receive a monthly email update.

Friday, September 17, 2010

ICVrx Licenses CU Drug Reformulation and Delivery Technology for Brain Disease Treatment

AURORA, Colo. – September 17, 2010 – The University of Colorado and Aurora, CO-based ICVrx recently completed a license agreement allowing the company to commercialize CU technology for improved treatment of epilepsy and other neurological disorders.

Many of the most effective oral medicines for neurological diseases are toxic to the body; although these medicines are non-toxic to the brain, getting the drug into the central nervous system without causing dangerous side effects in the body is a challenge. What’s more, many patients with neurological disorders do not adhere to the prescribed dosing regimen; this is especially relevant in patients with mental illnesses like schizophrenia.

The licensed technology is a drug reformulation technique that allows these drugs to be administered directly into the fluid around the brain via an implantable pump. This technique enables significantly lower dosages (reducing side effects and toxicity), and can also help overcome patient compliance problems. The technology was developed by Daniel J. Abrams and Karen Stevens (both of the University of Colorado School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry), and Thomas Anchordoquy (Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences).

ICVrx was founded in 2009 to commercialize this technology; the company is currently focusing on treatment of “refractory epilepsy” – epilepsy that has proven difficult or impossible to control using standard drug treatments. For this group of patients (600,000 in the U.S.) driving and other essential daily activities may be impossible due to uncontrolled or poorly controlled seizures. “Although these patients may appear to their neighbors to be normal, they have a very poor quality of life and high need,” said Abrams, who is also ICVrx’s CEO. “Currently there are only two treatment options – brain surgery to remove part of the brain, or an implanted device called a Vagus Nerve Stimulator, which has risks, is irreversible, and has limited effectiveness. Only 10 percent of patients pursue either.” The company has completed preclinical work on three potential drug therapies in preparation for clinical trials, which it hopes to begin in Q1 2011.

“The ICVrx technology would address an important and unmet therapeutic need for the target patient populations, and we wish the company every success in bringing this to market,” adds Tom Smerdon, Director of Licensing and New Business Development at the CU Technology Transfer Office.

About ICVrx
ICVrx is a clinical-stage pharmaceutical company reformulating three established drugs for direct delivery to brain cerebrospinal fluid by implanted pump to treat Refractory Epilepsy (RE). RE represents a large group of patients — 600,000 in the United States — with poor quality of life and very few effective treatment options. The group is larger than all sufferers of Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease, and brain cancers combined.

In the last four years, ICVrx has completed the necessary ground work to start clinical trials. It has secured intellectual property from the University of Colorado, completed pre-clinical work, vetted three drugs for clinical development, and established pump, catheter and pharmaceutical suppliers. In addition, the company has built its management team and assembled and engaged world-class advisers, business and scientific, consisting of thought leaders in finance, clinical development, compartmental drug targeting, neurology, neurosurgery, and epilepsy. www.icvrx.com.

CU TTO Reports Performance Metrics for FY2009-10

TTO has released its performance metrics for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2010. Please follow this link to a short presentation summarizing our performance, and look for our full annual report in October 2010.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tigon EnerTec to Commercialize CU Hybrid Aircraft Propulsion Technology

Startup company receives proof-of-concept funding from the U. of Colo to develop more efficient aircraft engine

BOULDER, Colo. – September 14, 2010 – The University of Colorado recently completed an option agreement with Tigon EnerTec Inc. for CU technology enabling efficient management of hybrid engines in aircraft.

Conventional airplanes employ an internal combustion engine that is sized for the high power requirements of takeoff and climbing. However, most of a typical flight is conducted at lower-power cruising speeds, during which time the larger engine is burning fuel inefficiently. Electric motors, on the other hand, are able to operate at high levels of efficiency over a broader range of power output, but energy storage problems preclude the use of all-electric power systems in airplanes.

A team of led by Dr. Jean Koster in the Aerospace Engineering department at the University of Colorado at Boulder have developed a method for switching between an internal combustion engine (powered by conventional fuel or biofuels) and an electric motor (powered by batteries, photovoltaic cells, fuel cells or other alternative power sources). The ability to transition seamlessly between these two motors maximizes overall efficiency and minimizes fuel consumption, while still meeting the high power needs of takeoff and climbing. The research group has also made a number of adjustments to the system, nicknamed HELIOS, to reduce the weight, complexity and cost of their hybrid engine.

“Being able to selective choose from torque sources, or combine them for maximum power, without the use of a clutch, opens up a range of propulsion options that can be optimized around whatever the mission need might be,” says Tigon CEO Les Makepeace. Tigon is currently working with aerospace and defense customers to investigate unmanned air vehicle applications; the company is also investigating general aviation, marine, and ground transportation applications. “This is an exciting time for the company,” adds Makepeace.

The HELIOS project is a recent graduate of the CU-Boulder Renewable and Sustainable Energy Institute (RASEI) Market Assessment Program. “Tigon represents CU and RASEI’s strong focus on developing market relevant technologies that have immediate and broad real world applications,” says Trent Yang, Director of Entrepreneurship and Business Development at RASEI. “Our incubation program identified the original market opportunity and we look forward to working with and supporting Tigon as it successfully transitions our lab technology into the real world.” RASEI recently funded a $40,250 proof-of-concept investment which will allow Tigon to further develop the technology.

About Tigon EnerTec
Tigon EnerTec is a propulsion system(s) integrator that designs modular, energy efficient, and eco-friendly propulsion systems to increase safety, performance, and reliability of operation. Tigon has focused on the product's "variable optimization", or the ability of the platform to adapt to a variety of applications of Concepts of Operations. Tigon has designed and developed a proprietary gearing system for a hybrid propulsion system, where input may come from a combination of select combustion and/or electric motors, with the mechanical output to a single shaft. To learn more, visit tigonenertec.com.

Tech Spotlight: Companion Diagnostic Marker for Sensitivity to Aurora Kinase A Inhibitors (AAIs)

The Aurora kinases are a family of highly homologous serine-threonine protein kinases that play a critical role in regulating numerous processes in mitosis. Significant scientific and clinical research indicates that Aurora genes are amplified and over-expressed in human cancers and expression of Aurora genes and proteins have been correlated with cancer progression, poor clinical outcome, and up-regulation of chromosomal instability, which provide clear support for a central role of the Aurora kinases in cancer progression. Aurora kinase has been tied to colorectal, urinary, ovarian, hepatocellular, pancreatic, and squamous cell carcinomas. Additional copies of the AURKA gene confers higher level of sensitivity to the drugs designed to block the molecular pathways impacted by this gene.

Dr. Marileila Varella Garcia of the University of Colorado has developed a reagent that detects AURKA gene copy number in single cells of clinical specimens and established cell lines. Dr. Garcia has evidence using lung cancer cell lines, NSCLC (non-small cell lung cancer), and colorectal cancer cell line (CLC) specimens showing the value of AURKA gene copy number as a marker for AAI sensitivity. Amplification of the AURKA gene is associated with improved response to anti-AAI cancer treatment. Dr. Garicia’s technology allows for the identification of tumors with higher copy number or expression of AURKA and selection of patients predicted to benefit from therapeutic administration of AAI inhibitors.

To read a non-confidential summary of this technology, including links to key documents, please click the image above. For more CU technologies available for licensing, please visit our Tech Explorer site.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Tech Spotlight: Apparatus to Mechanically Load Soft Matter, and Applications in Tissue Engineering

A University of Colorado research group led by Stephanie Bryant has developed a novel way to compress one or more soft matter samples under static or dynamic compression with high potential accuracies. This new technology dramatically improves the poor conversion of electrical energy to mechanical energy, overcoming one of the key disadvantages associated with conventional soft matter loading instruments used in laboratory research facilities.

This advanced soft matter loading technology enables researchers to study the changes in the biochemistry and physiology of cultured cells under conditions of mechanical strain as compared to cells grown conventionally under quiescent conditions. In addition, such apparatuses allow researchers to culture cells in 3D matrices or tissue explants in simulated physiological conditions, thereby providing cells and/or tissues that are suitable for surgical implants. Thus, this technology may be of great use in accelerating research and development of more advanced engineered biomaterials.

To read a non-confidential summary of this technology, including links to key documents, please click the image above. For more CU technologies available for licensing, please visit our Tech Explorer site.