Monday, December 12, 2011

December 2011 Newsletter Now Available

Top stories from TTO's December newsletter:

Xeris Pharma to Develop CU Diabetes Management Drug
Xeris Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Austin, Texas) and CU recently completed an exclusive license agreement for a jointly-developed method of treating the low blood sugar that is a common side effect of the insulin therapy used to treat many types of diabetes. Hypoglycemia (low blood glucose) can be treated by taking glucose orally, but when a hypoglycemic individual is confused or unconscious, oral glucose may not be an option. In these cases, glucagon (a hormone secreted by the pancreas, like insulin) can be given by injection to quickly raise blood glucose levels; however, glucagon is not stable when dissolved in water, so current injection methods require many extra steps for reconstitution with water before administration. The patent-pending drug reformulation technique developed by CU and Xeris (by a team of researchers led by John Carpenter, a professor at the CU Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, and John Kinzell, CEO of Xeris) provides formulations of glucagon that are shelf-stable and do not require refrigeration, making them faster and more convenient to administer.

Podcast: Colorado Technology Infrastructure and BioFrontiers Institute
W3W3 radio interviewed Jim Linfield, Managing Partner at Cooley LLP and the recipient of TTO's Colorado Technology Infrastructure Leadership Award in 2011. Speaking about CU's newly-launched BioFrontiers Institute (an interdisciplinary center designed to advance transformational biotechnologies), Linfield said: "I think that will solidify CU's position as one of the leading institutions for interdisciplinary research in the life sciences area, covering both therapeutics and diagnostics but also bio fuels, so I think it will be a remarkable institution." Listen to the podcast, or view an archive of all TTO podcasts.

Report Examines Value, Opportunities from Gap Funding of University Technology
Mind the Gap 2011: The University Gap Funding Report examines the role that university-driven gap funding programs play in advancing major innovations. The report begins with an updated version of the university, or early-stage, technology funding landscape. Next, the report looks in-depth at the functionality of 63 gap funding programs across 40 organizations (including CU's proof-of-concept grant program), creating a roadmap for tech transfer managers to develop gap funding programs and presenting benchmarks for policymakers to support these initiatives.

Gilead Strikes Deal with GlobeImmune on Hepatitis B Vaccine

Python Could Help Treat Heart Disease

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Xeris Pharma to Develop CU Diabetes Management Drug

Drug reformulation allows faster, more accurate administration of glucagon, helping diabetics to manage their blood sugar levels. 

AURORA, Colo., December 12, 2011 – Xeris Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Austin, Texas) and the University of Colorado recently completed an exclusive license agreement for a jointly-developed method of treating the low blood sugar that is a common side effect of the insulin therapy used to treat many types of diabetes.

Insulin therapy is used in the treatment of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes to lower blood glucose levels, since diabetes sufferers do not produce enough of this hormone (or do not react to the insulin produced naturally in their bodies). Hypoglycemia (low blood glucose) is a dangerous complication of insulin therapy, and can cause vomiting, seizures, or even death. Hypoglycemia can be treated by taking glucose orally, but when a hypoglycemic individual is confused or unconscious, oral glucose may not be an option. In these cases, glucagon (a hormone secreted by the pancreas, like insulin) can be given by injection to quickly raise blood glucose levels; however, glucagon is not stable when dissolved in water, so current injection methods require many extra steps for reconstitution with water before administration.

The patent-pending drug reformulation technique developed by CU and Xeris (by a team of researchers led by John Carpenter, a professor at the CU Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, and John Kinzell, CEO of Xeris) provides paste and suspension formulations of glucagon that are shelf-stable and do not require refrigeration, making them faster and more convenient to administer. Like other commercially-available glucagon products, these stabilized formulations can be given using a disposable injection kit that can be carried by diabetics in case of emergency. Additionally, since these formulations significantly reduce the injection volume as compared to conventional glucagon injections, they allow for simple and rapid administration.

“We were excited to team with John and his lab on advancing this novel formulation technology platform for delivery of biologics,” said Dr. Kinzell, Xeris’ CEO. “Dr. Carpenter’s program is a nationally-recognized academic center of excellence in this space and the primary reason we sought John out as technical partner for our first NIH Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant. Besides providing small companies like Xeris with non-dilutive funding for early-stage drug development, it also provides early peer-reviewed validation of a technology. We were very pleased with the outcome of project, as was NIH’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).”

“The University of Colorado is very pleased to continue its partnership with Xeris Pharmaceuticals,” added Paul Tabor of the CU Technology Transfer Office. “Our combined advances in formulation science have the potential to dramatically improve drug delivery, and we believe Xeris is ideally suited to advance the technology and provide much needed solutions for diabetics and other at-risk patients.”

Xeris is in the process of optimizing its glucagon formulation technology and will select the best candidate formulation in the second quarter of 2012 to move into the clinical phase of its program.

About Xeris Pharmaceuticals: 
XERIS develops patient-friendly injectables based on its XeriJect™ and XeriSol™ formulation and delivery platforms. The company’s products are ultra-low-volume, injectable bio-pharmaceuticals packaged in an auto-injector pen which patients and their caregivers can use at home or work. Bio-pharmaceuticals are the fastest growing category of therapeutics and are forecasted to be 6 of the top 10 drugs by 2014. The current paradigm of delivery requires nearly all of these drugs to be administered by injection or infusion, often in a clinical setting, decreasing compliance, increasing cost and providing a terrible patient experience. Xeris aspires to change this paradigm by developing ultra-low volume, ready-to-use bio-pharmaceuticals delivered through patient-friendly injectable devices, many of which would be self-administered in the comfort of the patient’s home. Products built on Xeris’ technologies would simplify administration and ease the pain of injections, improving the experience for hundreds of millions of patients. www.xerispharma.com

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Tech Spotlight: 3D Control of Polymerization via Photofixation of Diels-Alder Networks

Researchers at the University of Colorado led by Christopher Bowman have combined the facile formation of a Diels-Alder molecular scaffold with spatially and temporally selective photopolymerization. Their invention provides a method for “fixation” (photo-fixation, when light-activated) of otherwise reversible DA crosslinks in a polymer network.

These photofixed materials and the photolithographic strategy employed to make them have far reaching implications in the field of photopolymerization. Any application that can benefit from spatial and temporal control of polymerization reactions will be greatly enhanced by the simplicity of this fixation technology. Just a few of the many possible applications of this type of 3D polymerization control include 3D prototyping and printing, microfabrication, and flexographic printing.

To learn more, please view a short, non-confidential summary of this research work. For more CU technologies available for licensing, please visit our Tech Explorer site.