Tuesday, October 26, 2010

miRagen Therapeutics Signs Research and Licensing Agreements with CU for microRNA Profiling of Human Heart Failure Study

Data to expand miRagen’s research and development, intellectual property in the field of microRNA-based therapeutics

BOULDER, Colo. - October 26, 2010 – miRagen Therapeutics, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company focused on improving patients’ lives by developing innovative microRNA (miRNA)-based therapeutics for cardiovascular and muscle disease, and the University of Colorado (CU) announced today that they have entered into sponsored research and licensing agreements to collaborate on miRNA therapeutics discovery and development. The sponsored research agreement will support the analysis of miRNA and gene expression changes from a study conducted at the University of Colorado Cardiovascular Institute at the UC Denver School of Medicine, “Beta Blocker Effects on Remodeling and Gene Expression (BORG),” while the licensing agreement will enable the company to commercialize intellectual property associated with discoveries made during the research project. Further analysis of the completed study, funded by miRagen, will provide the Company with data on miRNA changes in human heart failure patients followed over two years with associated disease outcomes. Financial details of the agreements were not disclosed.

The BORG study was led by Michael R. Bristow, M.D., Ph.D., Professor of Medicine and Co-Director of the Cardiovascular Institute at CU, and a co-founder of miRagen, and Brian Lowes, M.D., Associate Professor of Medicine. CU investigators in laboratories led by David Port, Ph.D., and Carmen Sucharov, Ph.D., will also be contributing to the study. The study, which is the next-generation version of a landmark serial myocardial gene expression study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2002 (Lowes et al NEJM 346:1357-1365), was conducted in 63 chronic heart failure/non-ischemic dilated cardiomyopathy patients followed for an 18 month period, with measurements of chamber remodeling and messenger RNA as well as miRNA expression at baseline, three months and 12 months.

“We are extremely pleased to work closely with Dr. Bristow and the University of Colorado and to gain access to these unique data in human patients with heart failure,” said William S. Marshall, Ph.D., President and CEO of miRagen Therapeutics, Inc. “This provides us with the ability to analyze miRNA levels, as well as gene expression changes, in a given patient at specific points in time in their disease progression. We believe this will provide a very powerful tool in stratifying our miRNA targets and support our mission of developing groundbreaking miRNA-based therapeutics to treat patients with cardiovascular and muscle disease.”

"The BORG study performed at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center contains novel information on miRNAs and their relationships to myocardial remodeling and messenger RNA (mRNA) behavior, which will be very useful to miRagen in target selection for their therapeutic miRNA approaches,” said Dr. Bristow. “In drug development, animal models are of course very valuable, but for target validation as well as novel target discovery, human data are vitally important."

“The University is very pleased with closing this deal,” said David Poticha of the CU Technology Transfer Office. “The team that has been assembled by miRagen has a strong history of successfully developing Colorado-based biotechnology companies, and we firmly believe miRagen is the right and best partner to help commercialize the microRNA technologies developed by Drs. Port, Sucharov and Bristow.”

About microRNAs
MicroRNAs have emerged as an important class of small RNAs encoded in the genome. They act to control the expression of sets of genes and entire pathways and are thus thought of as master regulators of gene expression. Recent studies have demonstrated that microRNAs are associated with many disease processes. Because they are single molecular entities that dictate the expression of fundamental regulatory pathways, microRNAs represent potential drug targets for controlling many biologic and disease processes.

About miRagen Therapeutics
miRagen Therapeutics, Inc., was founded in 2007 to develop innovative microRNA-based therapeutics for cardiovascular and muscle disease. Only recently discovered, microRNAs are short, single-stranded RNA molecules encoded in the genome that regulate gene expression and play a vital role in influencing cardiovascular and muscle disease. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death globally and represents an enormous burden on global healthcare systems. Principally funded through venture capital investments, miRagen combines world recognized leadership in cardiovascular medicine with unprecedented in-house expertise in microRNA biology and chemistry. For more information, please visit www.miragentherapeutics.com.

Tech Spotlight: Rapid 3D Prototyping and Customized Hollow Models for Use in Medical Interventions and Training

A research team led by John Carroll and James Chen of the University of Colorado with computer graphics input from Adam Hansgen has developed a process to transform routinely obtained cardiac tomographic angiography (CTA), magnetic resonance angiography (MRA), and 3-D transesophageal ultrasound (TEE) images into a prototyping-ready format, so that high-quality hollow models can be produced using 3D printing technology. These cardiovascular structural models are patient- and disease-specific, accurate, and clinically useful, and will become increasingly cost-effective as 3D desktop printers become commonplace. Cardiologists can use this technology for testing, procedure training and intervention preparation. With the use of this technology, physicians can be trained more effectively before inserting new devices into patients, and cost of development will be reduced, with better patient outcomes leading to lower healthcare costs. This technology can be adapted to a diverse array of products and services that are all enabled by the ability to produce these 3D models, including implantable devices that are genuinely customized to patients’ unique anatomy.

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

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Tech Spotlight: High Transmittance Stressed Liquid Crystals in the Visible Spectrum

Liquid crystals (LCs) and polymer-dispersed liquid crystals (PDLCs) are a relatively new class of materials that hold promise for many applications ranging from switchable windows to projection displays and are the focus of extensive research in the display industry. A joint University of Colorado-Kent State University research group has discovered a High Transmittance Stressed Liquid Crystal (HTSLC) in the visible spectra. The HTSLC embodies the benefits of stressed liquid crystal cells but are capable of near 100% transparency in the visible spectra. Advantages of the proposed invention over traditional PDLCs and liquid crystal cells include an easy and efficient fabrication process which makes large scale production possible, high transmittance in both the visible and infrared range, and an ultra-fast response time for both thin and thick cells. Applications include infrared beam steering, adaptive optics, compact telescopes, camera lenses, etc.

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.

Monday, October 18, 2010

October 2010 Newsletter Now Available

Top stories from TTO's October newsletter:

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

Colorado BioScience Association Recognizes TTO as 2010 Partner of the Year
The Colorado BioScience Association (CBSA) honored the outstanding bioscience companies and individuals in the state during its 2010 Annual Awards Dinner held in conjunction with the BioWest Conference. CU TTO, along with the Colorado State University Technology Transfer Office, received the 2010 Partner of the Year Award.

Omni Bio Announces First Infusion in Phase I/II Clinical Trial of Alpha-1 Antitrypsin in Recently Diagnosed Diabetic Patients
CU licensee Omni Bio Pharmaceutical, Inc. announced in October that the first patient has been infused in its FDA-cleared Phase I/II human clinical trial of Alpha-1 antitrypsin ("AAT") in recently diagnosed Type 1 diabetics at the Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes at the University of Colorado Denver Anschutz Medical Campus.

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

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Event: Celebrate Scientific Entrepreneurship

UC Denver Symposium on Advancing Entrepreneurship & Technology Development

When: Friday, October 15, 2010; 7:30am - 1pm
Where: Anschutz Medical Campus (Aurora, CO)

This program will showcase and highlight the impact of the university's research enterprise on society, clinical practice, the economy and the environment, emphasizing the applied, translational and commercial aspects.

The retreat will assemble a distinguished group of translational scientists and clinicians, faculty entrepreneurs and members of the business community to discuss and celebrate entrepreneurship at the University of Colorado Denver. The retreat will serve as a way to take time out and share some of the success stories and impacts of UCD research with legislators, the business community, and other key stakeholders, and bring some much-deserved attention to faculty entrepreneurs who have seen their research put to use to make a difference.

Visit the TTO website for full details, confirmed speakers and RSVP information, or view the draft program (PDF).

Podcast: Tech Transfer Challenges and Choices

W3W3 radio spoke with David Allen, CU's Vice President for Technology Transfer, about TTO's performance in fiscal year 2009-2010:
It's been brutal, very tough for early stage technology companies. But I see the sun shining through the darker clouds of the innovation economy recession.
Listen to the podcast, or view an archive of all TTO podcasts. A short presentation giving highlights of FY2009-10 is available in PDF format here.