Tuesday, September 20, 2011

September 2011 Newsletter Now Available

Top stories from TTO's September newsletter:

SuviCa to Commercialize CU Cancer Treatment Discovery Tool 

TTO Commentary: The America Invents Act

Technology Commercialization Clinic Pilot Program Now Recruiting 

CU Scientists Secure Over $790M in Sponsored Research Funding in FY 2010-11 

Now Available: Performance Overview and Companies Created
CU TTO has released an updated Companies Created timeline (PDF) providing info (financings, acquisitions and more) on companies created based on CU technology since 1994. TTO has also released its performance metrics for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2011. Please follow this link to a short presentation summarizing our performance, and look for our full annual report in October 2011.

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Monday, September 19, 2011

TTO Commentary: The America Invents Act

After 6 years of debate, negotiation, arguments and compromises, both houses of the U.S. Congress have passed a bill to reform the United States’ patent laws, a reform that is generations in the making and which was signed into law by President Obama on Friday.

Called the America Invents Act (H.R. 1249), the bill reforms Chapter 35 of the United States Code (which governs the rights to patent) in a way that changes the patent laws more fundamentally than at any time in the last 50 years. The two driving forces for this bill’s passage were (a) reforming the U.S. patent laws to be more congruent with the laws of the rest of the world, and (b) improving a system that is seen as damaged (if not broken) in a way that will encourage more inventiveness and entrepreneurship to help stimulate the struggling American economy.

First Inventor to File
The America Invents Act makes a number of major changes to patent law, the most fundamental being the conversion from a first-to-invent to a first-inventor-to-file system (FITF), which brings the United States more closely in alignment with the rest of the world (most of which operates on a strict first-to-file (FTF) system). Prior to the passage of this bill, the U.S. had a system unique in the world where an inventor had the ability, through an expensive and time consuming process, to prove to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) that he or she was the first person to make an invention, even if that inventor was not the first to publish on it or to file something with the USPTO. Under FITF (which is essentially a first-to-publish system), that process is replaced by a system that incentivizes inventors to get something on file with the patent office more quickly. The U.S. will retain a form of protection for inventors that isn’t offered elsewhere: a one year grace period whereby an inventor may publish and still file in the patent office within the 12-month window.

The new system will be phased in slowly over the first 18 months after the bill is signed into law, but applications filed before enactment will be treated under the old laws. This means the USPTO will be required to use two different standards for applications filed pre- and post-enactment for quite some time (which has occurred before, notably when the patent term was modified under NAFTA/GATT).

Prior User Rights
Another significant change is the clarification or modification of “prior user rights.” During the debate over the bill, some industry representatives were concerned that a FITF system could lead to a potential infringement liability for first inventors who might have reasons not to file a patent application but who have already commercialized their inventions. Section 5, “Defense to infringement based on prior commercial use,” was added to the final bill, expanding the prior user rights infringement defense for such inventors under 35 U.S.C. §273 (which currently applies only to prior uses of business method patents). Prior user rights will now apply to any technology, with commercial activity also including “premarketing regulatory review” for drugs and “nonprofit laboratory use” such as in a university or hospital. However, the revised Section 273 generally will not allow that defense to be used against patents owned by institutions of higher education, under the argument that universities are never “prior users,” and therefore it wouldn’t be reasonable or fair to allow this defense to be asserted against university-owned intellectual property.

Other Key Changes
  • Post-grant proceedings creating an EU-like opposition are instituted, and existing post-grant proceedings are expanded and clarified in an attempt to lower litigation costs to defend or attack patents. Section 6 of the bill will provide a new “first window” post-grant review procedure allowing challenges within nine months of an issued patent on any ground of patentability (a change that expands third party rights to challenge patents). 
  • Pre-grant submission of prior art is enhanced. Section 8 of the bill creates a process whereby third parties may submit prior art for consideration and inclusion in the record of a patent application after it is published, provided this is done before an examiner has made a decision on patentability. 
  • The bill adds a new procedure called “supplemental examination” for dealing with inequitable conduct.
  • Section 15 of the bill eliminates an alleged infringer's ability to claim that the patent owner failed to identify the ‘best mode’ for enablement. The USPTO may still reject a patent application for this reason, but this is anticipated to be a rarely-used criterion. 
  • Section 10 gives the USPTO the authority to engage in its own fee setting, and Section 11 creates a priority examination protocol at a premium price. The priority exams will be expedited and (it is hoped) lead to a patent decision or allowance 2-3 times faster than the current system. 
  • The bill also creates a new “micro-entity” category of reduced fees for applicants for individuals and small businesses that don’t file a high volume of applications, or have earnings or profits lower than some predetermined threshold. 
  • Fee diversion, a controversial process whereby excess fees obtained by the USPTO are diverted by Congress instead of retained by the USPTO, was partially changed by creating an oversight committee in Congress that can determine how these fees can be used.
David Poticha is a senior licensing manager in TTO's University of Colorado Denver | Anschutz Medical Campus office.

SuviCa to Commercialize CU Cancer Treatment Discovery Platform

Drug discovery tool allows faster identification of drugs that increase efficacy of cancer treatments.

BOULDER, Colo., September 19, 2011 – SuviCa Inc. (Boulder, Colo.) and the University of Colorado recently completed an exclusive license agreement for a CU drug screening technology to identify novel therapies for cancer.

The patented drug discovery tool (developed by Tin Tin Su, a professor of molecular, cellular and developmental biology at CU-Boulder) uses a genetically modified fruit fly (Drosophila) model to screen for compounds effective against various types of cancer, either alone or in combination with existing therapies. This screening technique promises to identify new clinical candidates using a methodology that is both time efficient and cost-effective, and because it uses a whole-animal screening model, it can more easily eliminate drug candidates with undesired toxicity.

“SuviCa looks forward to advancing Dr. Su’s technology, in order to find better ways to treat cancer patients and to build a world-class business in the Front Range region,” said Judy Hemberger, SuviCa’s chairman and CEO.

“We are excited about the commercial possibilities for the drug screening technology developed by Dr. Su, which has already been used at CU to identify promising therapeutic candidates,” added Tom Smerdon, Director of Licensing and New Business Development at the CU Technology Transfer Office.

SuviCa recently received funding from Colorado's Bioscience Discovery Evaluation Grant Program, an initiative launched in 2007 by the State of Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade to provide early-stage matching “seed” grants to enable the development and commercial validation of promising technologies that are licensed from Colorado research institutions. SuviCa has also received a grant from the Internal Revenue Service through the Qualifying Therapeutic Discovery Project Program aimed at small businesses. Current and future efforts will focus on identifying and optimizing additional lead compounds to enter into formal clinical testing.

About Suvica
SuviCa, Inc., an early-stage cancer drug discovery and development company, was co-founded by Tin Tin Su, Ph.D., who now serves as its CSO. Judith Hemberger, Ph.D., formerly co-founder and COO of Boulder-based Pharmion, joins the senior management team as Chairman and CEO. Working in close collaboration with scientists at the University of Colorado Boulder, Colorado State University and the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, SuviCa is advancing a promising discovery pipeline, based on several small molecules initially identified utilizing its proprietary screening technology and targeted to a distinct cellular process. SuviCa's vision is to discover and develop novel drugs utilized either as stand-alone therapies or to prevent tumor recurrence following treatment with a variety of approved anti-cancer therapies. www.suvica.com

Friday, September 16, 2011

Technology Commercialization Clinic Pilot Program Now Recruiting

The CU Technology Commercialization Clinic is an initiative to provide training on intellectual property and research commercialization to CU graduate students and post-doctoral fellows. The goal of this program is to proactively open a new avenue of communication with the Technology Transfer Office, which should enhance the flow of inventions from research labs to the marketplace.

TTO is recruiting graduate students and post-doctoral fellows to help identify inventions that have potential for commercialization. The CU Technology Commercialization Clinic will train participants in intellectual property identification and protection, while also providing an opportunity for hands-on experience with the technology commercialization process. Participants are welcome from both bioscience and physical science fields. To learn more about the Technology Commercialization Clinic, which will run on a pilot basis in the 2011-12 academic year, please visit the TTO website.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Companies Created at CU: 2011 Update Now Available!

CU TTO has released an updated Companies Created poster, providing info (financings, acquisitions and more) on companies created based on CU technology since 1994. Click on the image for a high-res PDF:

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

CU TTO Reports Performance Metrics for FY2010-11

TTO has released its performance metrics for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2011. Please follow this link to a short presentation summarizing our performance, and look for our full annual report in October 2011.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tech Spotlight: Efficient, Low-cost Microchannel Heat Exchanger

Heat exchangers transfer heat from one fluid to another (both liquids and gases are considered fluids). These devices are found in buildings, power plants, industrial processes, and renewable energy systems.

A University of Colorado research team has developed a new heat exchanger design and accompanying manufacturing technique for creating low-cost microchannel heat exchangers from plastics or metals. Optimization results for this device indicate that the new heat exchanger will not only be much more efficient, but will also be manufactured at a much lower cost. This novel microchannel counter-current or cross flow design can be used as a replacement for all kinds of heat exchangers including tubular, plate, spiral, plate-fin, tube-fin, heat pipe, perforated plate, and heat wheel. The near term applications would be non-gas (liquid or phase change) heat transfer because these would have the greatest cost advantage.

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

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

TTO Announces New Business Advisory Board Members

BOULDER, Colo., Sep. 7, 2011 – The University of Colorado Technology Transfer Office (TTO), which facilitates the movement of CU technologies from the research lab to the marketplace, announced today that it has added several new members to its Business Advisory Board. The Business Advisory Board plays an important part in assessing TTO performance, advising on new TTO initiatives, providing access to the technology business community and advocating for resources needed to build a world-class technology transfer operation at CU.

New Board members include:
  • Shannon Golden-Shubert, Partner and co-founder at Life + Tech Law.
  • Doug Henston, renewable energy entrepreneur.
  • Paul Nelson, Managing Director at Clean Range Ventures.
  • Rex R. O'Neal, Partner at Faegre & Benson LLP; co-chair of the firm’s emerging companies practice and new energy, clean technology and climate initiative.
  • Misha Plam, founder of BiOptix and AmideBio; serial entrepreneur.
  • Holli Riebel, President and CEO of the Colorado BioScience Association (CBSA).
  • John Ryan, Partner (medical technology) at Onset Ventures.
  • Chris Shapard, Executive Director of the Colorado Cleantech Industry Association (CCIA).
  • Laura Simon, Director of UC Denver’s Office of BioPharma Alliances.
  • Fintan R. Steele, Associate Director at CU-Boulder’s Colorado Initiative in Molecular Biotechnology (CIMB).
  • Trent Yang, Director of Entrepreneurship and Business Development at the CU-Boulder Renewable and Sustainable Energy Institute (RASEI).
These new members join 15 other representatives from CU’s administration and business community (view full Business Advisory Board membership here).

“A solid understanding of industry and university priorities, and connections into Colorado’s strong business and entrepreneurial community, are crucial to TTO’s long-term success,” said David Allen, CU’s Associate VP for Technology Transfer. “We are delighted to have such an accomplished Business Advisory Board to help guide TTO’s current strategy, and to help us keep pace with the rapid changes in the technology development sphere.”

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tech Spotlight: Novel Approach to Treating Pancreatic Cancer

In collaboration with medicinal chemists at the University of Nottingham led by C.J. Moody, David Ross and colleagues at the University of Colorado have developed a novel series of indolequinones that potently induce apoptosis and growth inhibition in a number of different tumor cell systems including pancreatic, renal cell, colon and melanoma. The original series of compounds were developed as potent suicide inhibitors of the antioxidant enzyme NQO1. However, subsequent studies demonstrate that inhibition of NQO1 could be dissociated from antitumor activity and that the compounds induce potent inhibition of the thioredoxin/thioredoxin reductase system in tumor cells, leading to inhibition of tumor cell growth, induction of apoptosis and inhibited angiogenesis.

CU has developed a significant intellectual property around this set of compounds, which is available for partnering. To read a non-confidential summary of this opportunity, including links to relevant patent and scientific documents, please click the image above. For more CU technologies available for licensing, please visit our Tech Explorer site.