Friday, May 18, 2012

May 2012 Newsletter Now Available

Top stories from TTO's May newsletter:

Five CU-Based Companies Receive State of Colorado Tech Commercialization Grants

New CU-Boulder Facility to Tackle Challenges Ranging from Cancer and Tissue Engineering to New Biofuels 
A revolutionary research and teaching facility opening at the University of Colorado Boulder will facilitate work on a wide swath of pressing societal challenges ranging from biomedical issues like cancer, heart disease and tissue engineering to the development of new biofuels.

MiRagen Pockets $20M to Further miRNA-Based Drugs 
CU licensee miRagen Therapeutics recently completed a $20M Series B financing. The company will use the money to advance development of its miRNA-based therapeutics pipeline.

Fast Company: How A Colorado Town's Med-Tech Startups Thrive On Shoestring Budgets, Stem Cells 
In most cities, academic researchers have to drive across town, or even through other cities, to reach an industry incubator. In Aurora, they just walk across the street.

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Five CU-Based Companies Receive State of Colorado Tech Commercialization Grants

DENVER (May 18, 2012) – Five CU licensees were recently selected to receive matching grants through Colorado’s Bioscience Discovery Evaluation Grant Program (BDEG-Co). The State of Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade began the BDEG program in 2007, providing early-stage matching “seed” grants to enable the development and commercial validation of technologies that are licensed from Colorado research institutions by Colorado based start-up companies (as well as proof-of-concept grants to move promising CU biotechnologies closer to market readiness).

CU-based companies slated to receive funding in this round:

Amide Bio – provides research reagents and clinical products for a diverse array of research and commercial targets. The company’s proprietary technology platform, based on the work of CU-Boulder associate professor Michael Stowell, identifies critical molecular targets in finding therapies for Alzheimer’s disease.

Flashback Technologies – using machine learning to enable fast, non-invasive detection of acute blood loss volume and prediction of cardiovascular collapse in emergency situations. Based on work by CU School of Medicine professor and surgeon Steven Moulton and former CU-Boulder computer science researcher Greg Grudic, the company received BDEG funding in fall of 2009, in addition to this year’s grant.

OnKure – a company developing novel compounds that inhibit cancer cell growth and metastasis, based on the work of CU-Boulder professor Xuedong Liu.

Shape Ophthalmics – developing shape memory polymer (SMP)-based devices for the delivery of medication to the surface of the eye, for the treatment of eye diseases. Based on work by CU School of Medicine faculty members Malik Kahook and Naresh Mandava, and CU Denver/CU-Boulder professor Robin Shandas.

Suvica – an early-stage cancer drug discovery and development company, developing compounds that enhance the efficacy of standard cancer treatments. Based on the work of CU-Boulder professor Tin Tin Su, Suvica also received BDEG funding in spring of 2011.
“These are high-potential, Colorado-based companies that have emerged from CU research laboratories and are making their way forward into the commercial world,” commented David N. Allen, CU’s Associate Vice President for Technology Transfer. “We would like to thank all the legislators and others who have supported this program, which has helped these and numerous other companies become a part of the growing Colorado bioscience sector."

In addition to these companies, in fall 2011 two other CU licensee companies received funding through this program: Crestone Inc. (developing novel antibacterial compounds) and Sophono Inc. (implantable bone anchored hearing devices).

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Tech Spotlight: Biomarker for Selection/Modulation of TRAIL and other Cancer Therapies

Heide Ford of the University of Colorado Cancer Center has done intensive research on the homeobox superfamily of genes, which encode transcription factors that are essential during normal development and are often dysregulated in cancer. Dr. Ford has demonstrated that the developmental regulator Six1 is overexpressed in a variety of carcinoma cell lines as compared to normal cell surface epithelium. Six1 overexpression leads to increased A-type cyclin expression and increased proliferation. In addition, Six1 overexpression renders tumors resistant to TNF-related apoptosis inducing ligand (TRAIL)-mediated apoptosis, and Six1 knockdown in the TRAIL-resistant SKOV3 ovarian carcinoma line dramatically sensitizes the cells to TRAIL.

There are currently clinical trials with TRAIL ongoing at CU. Dr. Ford’s technology would allow for accurate identification of patients who will most likely benefit from TRAIL, and potential use as a marker for tailoring patient therapy once these therapies are approved by the FDA (perhaps in conjunction with the FDA label for TRAIL). Dr. Ford’s earlier results (available upon request) are focused on elucidating the mechanism through which Six1 confers resistance to TRAIL ligands and receptor antagonists. In particular, expression of Six1 seems to be linked with upregulation of certain decoy receptors for those molecules. More recently, Dr. Ford and her collaborators have found that expression of Six1 is linked to resistance to other classes of cancer therapeutics, including VEGF therapeutics (link).

To learn more, please click the image above for a non-confidential summary of this technology, or go directly to the patent application. For more CU technologies available for licensing, please visit our Tech Explorer site.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Tech Spotlight: Novel Biomarkers for Immuno-Escape and Cancer Metastasis

A research team led by Daniel Chan of the University of Colorado has found that a whole family of genes normally detected only in human immune defense cells become progressively and highly up-regulated in human cancer cells isolated from primary tumors (tumors found at site of implantation in left lung of animals), metastases (right lung) and distant metastases (mediastinal lymph nodes, liver, adrenal glands, kidneys, pancreas and lumbar lymph nodes). The expression of these genes is found to be very low or not expressed at all when cells have been maintained in tissue culture in vitro. Researchers found that expression of KIR, either by in vivo immune-selection or by forced expression, is responsible for conferring immune-resistance against cytolytic killing of human lung cancer cells. This suggests that determining the level of KIR in a patient will provide a novel method of evaluating prognosis of cancer and a means of monitoring treatment. It has also been discovered that the immune resistance caused by the over expressed gene family can be reversed by treatment with anti-KIR antibodies, suggesting that anti-KIR antibodies have clinical potential for the treatment of aggressive and immune resistant cells.

To learn more, please click the image above for a non-confidential summary of this technology, or go directly to the patent application. For more CU technologies available for licensing, please visit our Tech Explorer site.