Showing posts with label press-releases. Show all posts
Showing posts with label press-releases. Show all posts

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Ocugen Commercializing Two CU Biological Drugs to Treat Eye Diseases

One licensed drug candidate has received FDA orphan designation to treat retinitis pigmentosa, allowing for accelerated development. 

AURORA (Jun. 5, 2014) – Ocugen, Inc. and the University of Colorado today announced exclusive license agreements that will allow Ocugen to continue developing two drug candidates for the treatment for ophthalmology indications, and that one of the assets, OCU100, recombinant lens epithelium derived growth factor 1-326 (LEDGF1-326), received orphan-drug status from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for treatment of retinitis pigmentosa (RP), a rare eye disease.

“Orphan drug designation from the FDA’s Office of Orphan Products Development is a significant milestone that will allow Ocugen to accelerate the clinical development of OCU100, which has the potential to be the first approved therapeutic for retinitis pigmentosa,” said Shankar Musunuri, PhD, MBA, founder and chairman of the Ocugen Board of Directors.

Ocugen scientific founder and board member Uday Kompella, PhD, a professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Ophthalmology and Bioengineering at CU’s Anschutz Medical Campus, is the inventor of OCU100. Ocugen licensed all assets related to LEDGF, including LEDGF1-326 and OCU200, an anti-angiogenic tumstatin fusion protein, to be developed for treatment of wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD), from the University of Colorado in March 2014.

Retinitis pigmentosa is a rare eye disease caused by inherited gene mutations that lead to retinal degeneration affecting approximately 100,000 people in the United States, according to the Foundation Fighting Blindness. People with RP experience a gradual decline in their vision because photoreceptor cells in the retina die. It is a progressive disorder, and most people with RP are legally blind by age 40. There is no FDA approved therapeutic for RP.

“OCU100 has shown potential as a promising therapeutic agent for treating retinitis pigmentosa by reducing protein aggregation and associated cellular stresses, which are known to contribute to this condition,” said Dr. Kompella. “With impressive preclinical data, we look forward to progressing with a phase 1 study for safety and tolerability in patients sometime in 2015.”

Dr. Kompella said a variety of mutations, including P23H mutation in rhodopsin, a critical protein in the retina that is responsible for vision, have been linked to the development of RP. P23H rhodopsin is known to form large clusters or aggregates within retinal cells, leading to cellular stress and ultimately cell death.

“The role of mutant proteins such as P23H rhodopsin in RP is clearly evident, and OCU100 has shown the potential to be a therapeutic agent that reduces protein aggregation and associated stresses in retinal cells,” he said. “It has the potential to revolutionize the treatment of RP.”

About Orphan Drug Designation
FDA Office of Orphan Products Development (OOPD) grants orphan designation for novel drugs or biologics that treat a rare disease or condition affecting fewer than 200,000 patients in the U.S. Orphan designation qualifies the sponsor of the drug for various development incentives of the Orphan Drug Act (ODA) including seven-year period of U.S. marketing exclusivity, tax credits for qualified clinical testing, waiver of prescription drug user fee for marketing application, and ability to apply for grants. The OOPD also works on rare disease issues with the medical and research communities, professional organizations, academia, governmental agencies, industry, and rare disease patient groups.

About Ocugen, Inc.
Ocugen is advancing novel biologicals discovered based on endogenous proteins with well understood biology at the molecular, cellular, and whole animal level to treat eye diseases. The therapeutic proteins in the pipeline are derived from cell survival factors such as lens epithelium derived growth factor (LEDGF) and anti-angiogenic proteins such as tumstatin. The intellectual property covers a variety of related protein constructs including fusion proteins with superior activity. www.ocugen.com.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

TTO Announces CU Denver, Anschutz Medical Campus Technology Transfer Awards

Researchers and companies working on improved medical devices and innovative diagnostic approaches are among those honored for technology commercialization.

AURORA (Jun. 3, 2014) – The University of Colorado Technology Transfer Office (TTO) presented awards yesterday to University of Colorado Denver and Anschutz Medical Campus researchers, companies and advisors who best represent both the spirit of innovation at CU and best practices in commercialization of university technologies.

In the last two decades, inventions by researchers from CU’s four campuses have led to the formation of 132 new companies. Of these, 89 have operations in Colorado, seven have “gone public,” becoming publicly traded companies (either through an IPO or via a reverse merger), and 18 have been acquired by public companies. In total, companies created based on CU technology have attracted over $6.2 billion in financing. Four FDA-approved drugs have resulted from CU innovations, positively impacting the lives of millions of patients.

“Year after year, CU faculty continue to impress by bringing clinically relevant innovations in the door, and successfully engaging advisors and entrepreneurs to bring those innovations to life,” said Rick Silva, senior director of technology transfer for CU Denver|Anschutz. “We are especially delighted that this year’s innovators are all positively and directly impacting patient care right now, by virtue of the use of their innovations in the clinic.”

The researchers and company recognized this year are developing innovative diagnostics and medical devices. This year’s award winners include:

Robert C. Doebele, Inventor of the Year, CU Denver|Anschutz. Doebele is an Associate Professor in the Division of Medical Oncology at the CU School of Medicine, and a physician at University of Colorado Hospital. His research focuses on oncogenic gene fusions in lung cancer, using molecular, cellular, genetic, and translational approaches to elucidate both the sensitivity and cellular resistance to oncogene-targeted therapy. Since 2012, Doebele has worked with TTO to commercialize two novel companion diagnostics to guide therapy for NSCLC patients, both of which are currently being licensed for development by a large molecular diagnostics company.

Christopher M. Yakacki, New Inventor of the Year, CU Denver|Anschutz. Yakacki is an Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at CU’s Denver campus, where he runs the Smart Materials and Biomechanics (SMAB) Lab. Since joining CU’s faculty in 2012, he has fabricated a medical imaging accessory device to solve an unmet need brought to him by clinicians in interventional radiology, with a prototype device being used on patients within months of initial development; he has also worked with TTO on two subsequent ideas that have received positive early commercial feedback.

Steve VanNurden, Business Advisor of the Year. VanNurden is President and CEO of the Fitzsimons Redevelopment Authority. He came to Colorado in 2012 from the Mayo Clinic, where he had responsibilities ranging from the establishment of Mayoclinic.com, to managing a venture portfolio, to overseeing a technology licensing and commercialization enterprise. VanNurden’s experience in new enterprise formation, investing, and commercial development has been readily available and invaluable to TTO and to CU faculty members working towards commercializing CU research.

EndoShape, CU Denver|Anschutz Company of the Year. EndoShape is a medical device company in the coil embolization and occlusion market. The company was founded based on shape memory polymer technology licensed from CU in 2007, from the laboratory of Robin Shandas, who remains on the board and executive team of EndoShape today. The company’s Medusa™ Vascular Plug product received 510(k) marketing clearance and will be commercially available in 2014, with the potential to positively impact the 50,000 U.S. patients who have peripheral vascular embolization procedures each year.

Awards to researchers and startups at other CU campuses were presented at separate campus events in April.

See also:

Monday, April 21, 2014

TTO Announces Boulder Campus Technology Transfer Awards

Researchers and companies working on ultrafast lasers, ultracold matter and DNA sequencing methods are among those honored for technology commercialization.

BOULDER (Apr. 21, 2014) – The University of Colorado Technology Transfer Office (TTO) will present awards this week to University of Colorado Boulder researchers and companies who best represent both the spirit of innovation at CU-Boulder and best practices in commercialization of university technologies.

In the last two decades, inventions by researchers from CU’s four campuses have led to the formation of 132 new companies. Of these, 89 have operations in Colorado, seven have “gone public,” becoming publicly traded companies (either through an IPO or via a reverse merger), and 18 have been acquired by public companies. In total, companies created based on CU technology have attracted over $6.2 billion in financing.

“TTO is pleased to take this opportunity to highlight the contributions that these researchers and companies have made to their fields,” said MaryBeth Vellequette, director of technology transfer for CU-Boulder. “Their commitment not only to performing world-class research but also to creating real-world impact for their work deserves recognition – congratulations to Drs. Kapteyn, Murnane, Chatterjee and Nagpal, and to Dr. Anderson and the ColdQuanta team.”

The researchers and company recognized this year are developing technologies that are helping push the envelope in physics and medical testing. This year’s award winners include:


Henry C. Kapteyn and Margaret Murnane, Inventors of the Year, CU-Boulder. Kapteyn and Murnane are both physics professors at CU-Boulder, as well as members of JILA, a joint institute of CU-Boulder and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The Kapteyn-Murnane research group develops ultrafast lasers and x-rays, which have important applications in research on natural processes and in the visualization of other nano-scale processes for the development of nano devices. In 1994, Kapteyn and Murnane founded KMLabs to commercialize their work and make their innovations available to academic and industry researchers, and (more recently) to companies developing technologies such as micromachining.

 Anushree Chatterjee and Prashant Nagpal, New Inventors of the Year, CU-Boulder. Chatterjee and Nagpal are assistant professors of chemical and biological engineering at CU-Boulder. In their joint research, they have developed a platform technology for fast, reliable, high-throughput and cost effective single-molecule sequencing of nucleic acids; this kind of sequencing is an important step in the development of new diagnostic tools for personalized medicine, as well as in rapid identification of DNA sequences that allow bacteria to develop drug resistance. Chatterjee and Nagpal are working with TTO to develop a commercial pathway for this technology.



ColdQuanta, Boulder Company of the Year. ColdQuanta produces high performance, cutting edge cold and ultracold atom technology. Their products utilize Bose-Einstein Condensate (BEC), a new form of matter created just above absolute zero, with potential applications in a wide range of research and commercial settings, ranging from atomic clocks to improved navigation of submarines and spacecraft, and even quantum computing. The company grew out of decades of research by CU-Boulder physics professor and JILA member Dana Anderson, who also serves as the company’s CTO.

Awards to CU researchers, startups and advisors at other CU campuses will be presented at separate campus events in April and June.

See also:

Friday, April 11, 2014

UCCS Biophysicist Receives CU New Inventor of the Year Award

UCCS biophysics researcher Janusz Hankiewicz will be recognized by the CU Technology Transfer Office for his work with next-generation medical imaging. 

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Apr. 11, 2014) – The University of Colorado Technology Transfer Office (TTO) will present an award today honoring Janusz Hankiewicz, Ph.D. for his efforts in developing and commercializing new medical imaging contrast agents. Hankiewicz, a member of CU’s BioFrontiers Center and a research associate at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs (UCCS), will receive the award during today’s Mountain Lion Research Day luncheon at UCCS.

Hankiewicz’s research focuses on diagnostic medical imaging techniques like magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), nuclear magnetic resonance imaging (NMRI) and positron emission tomography (PET). Along with his UCCS colleagues, he has developed improved imaging procedures as well as several improved contrast agents – substances used to enhance the visibility of body structures like blood vessels during medical imaging procedures.

 In spring 2014, Hankiewicz and his collaborators were selected to receive a proof-of-concept award under the State of Colorado’s Bioscience Discovery and Evaluation Grant (BDEG) program. The grant will allow the team to further develop a novel contrast agent designed to provide precise internal temperature measurements, which can be used to detect some cancers and some types of inflammation. Additionally, temperature mapping is used to monitor the tissues surrounding metal implants during imaging procedures, and to guide certain therapeutic procedures. By providing precise, non-invasive 3D temperature sensing, this novel contrast agent represents a major improvement over conventional temperature monitoring, which is usually performed with invasive, single-point measurements.

Awards to CU researchers, startups and advisors at other CU campuses will be presented at separate campus events in April and June.

See also:

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

OcuTherix Developing CU Next-Generation Glaucoma Treatment

With the help of a device developed at CU, a new glaucoma procedure could offer patients a non-drug, non-surgical treatment option. 

AURORA, Colo., March 19, 2014 – OcuTherix, Inc. and the University of Colorado (CU) have completed an exclusive license that will allow the company to continue developing a new non-invasive procedure for the treatment of glaucoma that uses patent-pending technology developed at CU.

Glaucoma is a leading cause of worldwide blindness, and is treated by lowering the fluid pressure inside the eye (intraocular pressure). Topical eye-drop medications are often used to lower eye pressure, but because these medications can cause discomfort, patients often fail to take them correctly and consistently. Laser and surgical procedures are also used to reduce eye pressure; however, these techniques are fraught with complications and do not consistently reduce eye pressure in the long term.

A research team led by Malik Kahook, MD, Slater Family Endowed Chair in Ophthalmology at the CU School of Medicine, has developed a compact, non-invasive device that uses carefully calibrated external sonic oscillation to stimulate drainage of the eye’s fluid, reducing eye pressure. This innovative procedure, called Deep Wave Trabeculoplasty (DWT), is intended to be an efficient, safe and effective in-office treatment.







Image: OcuTherix rendering of the DWT device developed at CU.









Studies have shown that DWT does not cause tissue damage and lowers eye pressure consistently. An ongoing clinical study is intended to demonstrate that DWT has long-lasting benefits and can be repeated when needed. “The initial DWT study in humans revealed consistent eye pressure lowering without adverse events,” said Kahook. “Our team believes that DWT will play a significant role in the treatment of glaucoma in the United States and across the globe.”

“Gradual vision loss is devastating, and I am proud to be working with outstanding partners to develop DWT as we strive to save vision in people with glaucoma,” added OcuTherix CEO Robert Atkinson. “I strongly believe that DWT represents a new age in glaucoma treatment.”

“We believe this device represents a completely novel approach to the treatment of glaucoma, and the University is excited to work with a company that will help Dr. Kahook develop such a pioneering technique,” said David Poticha of CU’s Technology Transfer Office.

About OcuTherix, Inc.
OcuTherix, a spin-out company of medical device incubator Prospex Medical, Inc., is dedicated to medical device innovation to save vision in people with glaucoma. CAUTION: Deep Wave Trabeculoplasty (DWT) is an investigational device and is not approved for sale. www.ocutherix.com

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Advanced Conductor Technologies Commercializing CU High Performance Superconducting Cable


Company advancing work on thinner, more versatile superconducting cables for nuclear fusion power, military power transmission. 

BOULDER, Colo., March 6, 2014 - Advanced Conductor Technologies and the University of Colorado have completed an exclusive license agreement that allows the company to continue its work developing high-temperature superconducting cables to provide flexible, high-current density power transmission.

High-temperature superconducting (HTS) cables were initially developed for use in metropolitan electrical networks because of their efficiency and large transmission capacity. Danko van der Laan, a physicist with appointments at CU-Boulder and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), has developed a technique to make thinner, more flexible HTS cables that can carry the same (or greater) current. These more-compact cables (conductor on round core, CORC) have immediate applications in electrical grids and scientific and medical equipment; they may also enable HTS power transmission for military applications and in data centers.


[Image: A coil and cross-section of the high-temperature superconducting cable invented by van der Laan. In the center are copper wires bundled with nylon and plastic insulation. The outer rings are a series of superconducting tapes wrapped in spirals around the copper]


After optioning the technology from CU in 2012, the company received a Phase II Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grant for $1M from the U.S. Department of Energy to develop its CORC cables for use in powerful magnets that can be used to generate nuclear fusion power. The company began work on this grant in April 2013. Earlier this year, the company was also awarded a Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the U.S. Navy to develop its CORC cables for shipboard power transmission cables.

“We recently received our first commercial order for a high-current CORC magnet cable and are currently winding the cable needed to fill the order,” said van der Laan. “We’re optimistic that more orders will follow, enabling us to scale up our cabling facility.” The company has leased space in Boulder and has expanded its staff to three full-time employees.

“In collaboration with ACT, the university has filed for extensive international patent coverage of this valuable technology,” added Ted Weverka of the CU Technology Transfer Office. “We are proud to be working with ACT, and excited to see such an aggressive startup spin out of the university.”

About Advanced Conductor Technologies
Advanced Conductor Technologies LLC focuses on the commercialization of high-temperature superconducting cables using the new cable technology developed by its founder, Danko van der Laan, while at the University of Colorado Boulder and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The cable technology opens the door to new markets that require flexible, high-current density power transmission cables. It also forms the basis for the first practical superconducting cable for high-field magnets that operate at magnetic fields above 20 Tesla, or at temperatures exceeding 20 Kelvin. http://advancedconductor.com.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Tissue Fusion to Commercialize Laser Surgical Device Developed at CU


Laser tissue fusion device will make surgeries quicker and simpler, reduce side effects



COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., February 19, 2014 - Tissue Fusion and the University of Colorado recently completed a license agreement that will allow the company to continue developing a new surgical device that utilizes lasers, rather than staples and sutures, to close wounds during nasal surgery.

The two most common nasal surgeries are septoplasty (repair of deviated or deformed septum, thousands performed each year) and rhinoplasty (“nose job,” over 150,000 performed each year). Currently, wounds are closed during these surgeries using staples, sutures or intranasal packing, all of which can be dangerous (needles can break, and bleeding can occur) as well as uncomfortable for the patient. After the procedure, techniques like stapling or suturing can cause infection, scarring or other side effects.

Lasers have been used for decades in place of scalpels to cut tissues in procedures like LASIK eye surgery. Lasers also have the ability to ‘weld’ tissue together, but have not been widely used in this capacity due to the complexity of the laser (different parameters for different tissues) and the exceptional surgical skill required to use them.

A team led by mechanical and aerospace engineer Michael Larson, El Pomar Endowed Chair of Engineering and Innovation at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs, has developed a laser-based device for closing wounds during nasal surgery that circumvents these technical hurdles. The device generates heat and pressure to fuse tissue membranes together, but is designed specifically for use in septoplasty and rhinoplasty, using pre-set parameters to make the device easy to use by a surgeon or a trained medical technician. In addition to making the surgical procedure faster and simpler, the fusion device also has the potential to shorten healing time and reduce side effects like swelling, scarring, and infection.

[Image: Michael Larson (left) with student. Photo courtesy UCCS.]

Tissue Fusion is currently gathering data on the efficacy and safety of the device in controlled trials. The company will use the results in seeking approval from the FDA for clinical use in procedures related to the ear, nose and throat. Ultimately, the company hopes to introduce additional surgery-specific devices; further research by Larson’s team shows that the technology holds promise for “spot welding” layers of tissue in a range of surgeries, including microsurgical applications. “We’re pleased to be working in partnership with the University of Colorado to commercialize a new medical technology that is already adding jobs to the Colorado economy,” said Larson, who also serves as the company’s CEO.

“The technology licensed to Tissue Fusion has been a great example of Colorado’s innovation infrastructure, since it represents years of development efforts at MIND Studios in Colorado Springs, as well as a state grant to bring it closer to commercial readiness,” said Molly Markley of CU’s Technology Transfer Office. “We are looking forward to following the company’s progress as it moves towards FDA approval.” Tissue Fusion received a State of Colorado Early-Stage Company grant in 2013 under its Bioscience Discovery and Evaluation Grant program.

About Tissue Fusion 
Tissue Fusion LLC is a medical device startup in Colorado Springs, CO, which is committed to creating a suite of wound closure instruments for improving surgical procedures and outcomes. The company is a spin-out from the University of Colorado Colorado Springs. Tissue Fusion is a recipient of an award from the State of Colorado’s Bioscience Discovery and Evaluation Grant Program, a program which is moving promising commercial technologies to market and supporting the development of the biotechnology industry in Colorado.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

SixOne Solutions Developing CU's Targeted Breast Cancer Therapy

By inhibiting two proteins not currently targeted by conventional cancer treatments, CU’s platform could block the growth and migration of cancer cells with fewer side effects, and reduce tumor resistance to chemotherapy and radiation.

AURORA, Colo., November 21, 2013 – SixOne Solutions and the University of Colorado (CU) have completed an exclusive license agreement, allowing the company to develop new, targeted therapeutics for treating and preventing the spread of breast cancer with far fewer expected side effects than traditional chemotherapy.

A research team at the CU School of Medicine led by Heide Ford, Ph.D., and Rui Zhao, Ph.D., has identified two proteins, Six1 and Eya2, that play key roles in the growth and spread of cancer cells. Importantly, while these proteins are also active in normal embryonic development, they are inactive in most healthy adult tissue. As a result, the therapeutics developed by the Ford/Zhao group to inhibit Six1 and Eya2 are expected to have minimal effects on healthy cells, while specifically targeting cancer cells – this targeting means fewer or minimal side effects.

Six1 and Eya2 are highly active in a majority of breast cancer tumors, including difficult-to-treat triple-negative tumors. These two proteins are also active in many other types of cancer, including ovarian, cervical and pancreatic cancer, gliomas, and Ewing’s Sarcoma; thus, the Six1/Eya2 inhibitors being commercialized by SixOne Solutions may be effective across a wide variety of cancers. What’s more, it is anticipated that they will be able to be combined with existing chemotherapies due to their low expected toxicity to healthy cells. Use of combination therapies reduces the development of tumors that are resistant to treatment, and helps prevent relapse.

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women. Currently, chemotherapy and radiation are the main methods of treatment, along with surgery. Chemotherapy, which affects healthy as well as cancerous cells, causes severe and sometimes fatal side effects. Immediate side effects of chemotherapy can include nausea, vomiting, hair loss and diarrhea, while long-term side effects can include infertility and even the development of a second cancer. Targeted drugs have been developed, but are only effective in patients with specific genetic mutations, typically 20 to 30 percent of breast cancer patients.

“New drug development is a long process, but we are doing all we can to move this exciting new treatment approach into the clinic as soon as we can,” said Ginny Orndorff, SixOne’s CEO. The company was recently awarded a $50,000 BioScience Discovery Evaluation Grant from the State of Colorado to evaluate the effectiveness of these drugs in patients with triple-negative breast cancer.

 Ford, an associate professor of pharmacology, and Zhao, an associate professor of biochemistry and molecular genetics, co-founded SixOne Solutions earlier this year to commercialize their research in this area.

“Drs. Ford and Zhao are working on a truly novel and exciting cancer therapy,” said David Poticha of the CU Technology Transfer Office. “The university is confident that their collaboration with Ginny Orndorff and SixOne creates a significant opportunity to advance this therapy into clinical development.”

About SixOne Solutions
SixOne Solutions LLC is a biopharmaceutical company developing novel products for the treatment and diagnosis of breast cancer. Their initial product is a small molecule, targeted therapeutic for breast cancer that may also be effective in treating many other cancers, including ovarian, cervical, and pancreatic cancer, as well as gliomas, Wilms’ tumor and Ewing’s Sarcoma. www.sixonesolutions.com.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Galaxy Ophthalmics to Develop CU's Improved Glaucoma Therapy

New implantable medical device could improve advanced surgical glaucoma treatments. 


AURORA, Colo., November 5, 2013 – Galaxy Ophthalmics and the University of Colorado (CU) have completed an exclusive option agreement to allow the company to commercialize an implantable medical device to help prevent loss of vision resulting from glaucoma.

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that result in damage to the optic nerve; typically, this damage is caused by high pressure in the fluid inside the high (intraocular pressure, IOP). As it progresses, glaucoma can lead to loss of vision and eventually to permanent blindness. With over 2.2 million sufferers in the U.S. (and over 60 million worldwide) glaucoma is the second leading cause of irreversible blindness.

Glaucoma treatment aims to reduce intraocular pressure using topical medications, laser treatments and surgery; for patients with advanced disease, filtering surgeries (aqueous shunting or trabeculectomy) are often used to help the eye’s inner fluid (the aqueous humor) drain, preventing loss of vision. While valuable, these surgical techniques are largely all-or-nothing, providing few ways for surgeons to customize the drainage rate; by five years post-surgery, they have a 50% failure rate.

A research group led by Jeffrey Olson, M.D. (an associate professor of ophthalmology at the CU School of Medicine and member of the Rocky Mountain Lions Eye Institute) has developed an implantable device to give surgeons better control over the rate of drainage in glaucoma filtering surgeries. Importantly, the drainage rate can be adjusted not just at the time of the initial surgery, but months to years after surgery, decreasing surgical complications and improving patient outcomes.

With early studies already successfully completed, Galaxy is applying for a Colorado Bioscience Discovery & Evaluation Grant (BDEG) to fund the first animal studies of the device at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus. In parallel with this study, Galaxy is seeking a licensing or co-development agreement to help bring the device to the market.

“The University is very excited about this agreement, and believes this partnership with Galaxy has great potential to benefit a patient population that needs alternative therapies beyond what’s currently available,” said David Poticha of the CU Technology Transfer Office.

About Galaxy Ophthalmics 
Galaxy Ophthalmics is a Colorado based corporation seeking to develop a number of innovative medical devices for ophthalmic therapies and surgeries leveraging the wealth of ophthalmic and general medical device development talent available not only at CU but across the greater Front Range area.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Solid Power to Develop CU-Boulder Solid-State Battery Technology

A cutting-edge battery technology developed at the University of Colorado Boulder that could allow tomorrow’s electric vehicles to travel twice as far on a charge is now closer to becoming a commercial reality.

CU's Technology Transfer Office has completed an agreement with Solid Power LLC - a CU-Boulder spinout company founded by Se-Hee Lee and Conrad Stoldt, both associate professors of mechanical engineering - for the development and commercialization of an innovative solid-state rechargeable battery. Solid Power also was recently awarded a $3.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy for the purpose of creating a battery that can improve electric vehicle driving range.

The rechargeable batteries that are standard in today’s electric vehicles—as well as in a host of consumer electronics, such as mobile phones and laptops—are lithium-ion batteries, which generate electricity when lithium ions move back and forth between electrodes in a liquid electrolyte solution.

Engineers and chemists have long known that using lithium metal as the anode in a rechargeable battery—as opposed to the conventional carbon materials that are used as the anode in conventional lithium-ion batteries—can dramatically increase its energy density. But using lithium metal, a highly reactive solid, in conjunction with a liquid electrolyte is extremely hazardous because it increases the chance of a thermal runaway reaction that can result in a fire or an explosion.

Today’s lithium-ion batteries require a bulky amount of devices to protect and cool the batteries. A fire onboard a Boeing Dreamliner in January that temporarily grounded the new class of plane was linked to its onboard lithium-ion battery.

Lee and Stoldt solved the safety concerns around using lithium metal by eliminating the liquid electrolyte. Instead, the pair built an entirely solid-state battery that uses a ceramic electrolyte to separate the lithium metal anode from the cathode. Because the solid-state battery is far safer, it requires less protective packaging, which in turn, could reduce the weight of the battery system in electric vehicles and help extends their range.

Research into the development of solid-state batteries has gone on for a couple of decades, but it has been difficult to create a solid electrolyte that allowed the ions to pass through it as easily as a liquid electrolyte.

“The problem has always been that solid electrolytes had very poor performance making their use in rechargeable batteries impractical,” Stoldt said. “However, the last decade has seen a resurgence in the development of new solid electrolytes with ionic conductivities that rival their liquid counterparts.”

The critical innovation added by Lee and Stoldt that allows their solid-state lithium battery to out-perform standard lithium-ion batteries is the construction of the cathode, the part of the battery that attracts the positively charged lithium ions once they’re discharged from the lithium metal. Instead of using a solid mass of material, Lee and Stoldt created a “composite cathode,” essentially small particles of cathode material held together with solid electrolyte and infused with an additive that increases its electrical conductivity. This configuration allows ions and electrons to move more easily within the cathode.

“The real innovation is an all-solid composite cathode that is based upon an iron-sulfur chemistry that we developed at CU,” Stoldt said. “This new, low-cost chemistry has a capacity that’s nearly 10 times greater than state-of-the-art cathodes.”

Last year, Lee and Stoldt partnered with Douglas Campbell, a small-business and early-stage product development veteran, to spin out Solid Power.

“We’re very excited about the opportunity to achieve commercial success for the all solid-state rechargeable battery,” said Campbell, Solid Power’s president. “We’re actively engaging industrial commercial partners to assist in commercialization and expect to have prototype products ready for in-field testing within 18 to 24 months.” Important to the early success of the company has been its incubation within CU-Boulder’s College of Engineering and Applied Science’s applied energy storage research center, a part of the college’s energy systems and environmental sustainability initiative.

Solid Power is a member of Rocky Mountain Innosphere, a nonprofit technology incubator headquartered in Fort Collins with a mission to accelerate the development and success of high-impact scientific and technology startup companies.

“We’re very excited to be working with Solid Power’s team to get them to the next level,” said Mike Freeman, Innosphere’s CEO. “This is a big deal to Colorado’s clean-tech space. Solid Power’s batteries will have a huge impact in the EV market, and they have a potential $20 billion market for their technology.”

Learn more about Solid Power at http://www.solidpowerbattery.com.

Original: http://www.colorado.edu/news/releases/2013/09/18/solid-state-battery-developed-cu-boulder-could-double-range-electric-cars

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Nanoly Bioscience to Develop CU-Boulder Vaccine Stabilization Technology

New chemical enables lower delivery costs, decreased vaccine spoilage, and increased vaccine access in remote areas of the world.

BOULDER (September 11, 2013) - Nanoly Bioscience and the University of Colorado recently entered into an option agreement that will enable the company to develop a technique for protecting vaccines during delivery to rural and less-developed areas of the world.

 The most needed vaccines in developing countries are for measles, tetanus, polio, pertussis and diphtheria, all of which (like most vaccines) must be kept between 35°F (2°C) and 45°F (8°C) during transportation, delivery and storage. Outside of this range, vaccines begin to degrade and become ineffective. Maintaining this “cold chain” during transportation and delivery is challenging even in developed areas, and storing vaccines at appropriate temperatures is a serious problem in remote areas where electricity is absent or unreliable.

A research team led by Kristi Anseth, a distinguished professor in the department of chemical and biological engineering at CU’s Boulder campus, developed a unique material that is being adapted to solve this problem (which is estimated by the World Health Organization to cause over a quarter of the total wastage of liquid vaccines worldwide). Anseth’s group created a unique nano-polymer material that can be customized and blended with any vaccine to protect against thermal damage during transportation, ultimately improving vaccine availability in remote locations.

Photo: Nanoly CEO Balaji Sridhar (third from left) and other members of the Nanoly team.

“We’re thrilled to be adapting CU technology and working towards a solution for such an important problem,” said Balaji Sridhar, a member of Anseth’s lab who co-founded Nanoly in 2012 along with Mark Tibbitt (also of the Anseth lab) and co-founders from several other institutions. In 2013, the company placed second in the CU Denver business plan competition, and won the Duke University Startup Challenge in 2012.

“We are excited that Nanoly has optioned Dr. Anseth's polymer technology,” said MaryBeth Vellequette, director of technology transfer for CU-Boulder. “Nanoly has a very dynamic team that is passionate about developing this technology and we are is eager to continue working with them as this venture grows.”

About Nanoly Bioscience
Nanoly Bioscience is a new startup company developing a polymer based stabilization technique for temperature sensitive biologics and therapeutics. The intention is to eliminate the need for refrigeration during transportation and extend availability of the vaccine or therapeutic. www.nanoly.info.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

FAST Ceramics to Develop Low Energy Ceramics Manufacturing Process

Short processing time and low furnace temperatures lead to significant energy savings.

BOULDER (August 29, 2013) – FAST Ceramics and the University of Colorado have completed an exclusive option agreement to allow the company to develop a faster, energy-efficient technique for manufacturing the ceramic materials used in aerospace, medical implants, military defense armor and a wide variety of technical applications, in addition to traditional ceramics like tableware and architectural tiles.

Ceramic materials are produced by sintering: solidifying ceramic powders at high temperatures in a process that is extremely energy intensive. However, the technique developed by a research group at CU’s Boulder campus works by applying an electrical field during the sintering process, which then requires significantly less energy and lower temperatures. The process is called Field-Assisted Sintering Technology, or FAST. For example, stabilized zirconia (used to produce fuel cells, among other applications) is sintered at 1400ºC for many hours in a traditional process; using FAST, the same zirconia can be sintered in a matter of seconds, at a furnace temperature of 800°C.

The technology portfolio covered by the option was developed by Rishi Raj, a professor in CU-Boulder’s mechanical engineering department, and John Francis and Marco Cologna, at that time both researchers in the same department.

“We are developing technology that could potentially revolutionize the way that ceramics are manufactured in the future,” said Francis, president of FAST Ceramics. The company is currently working on a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the National Science Foundation to help develop a new single-step flash-sintering process for use in solid oxide fuel cells.

“The FAST sintering technique represents an impressive leap forward in ceramic manufacturing,” said Molly Markley of the CU Technology Transfer Office. “The process could have wide applicability across the industry, and we’re eager to see FAST Ceramics further develop and implement the technology.”

About FAST Ceramics
FAST (Field Assisted Sintering Technology) Ceramics is a research company dedicated to investigating the effects of electric and magnetic fields on sintering behavior such as flash sintering and flash-sinterforging. They specialize in the design and build of flash-sintering instruments, the design of experiments, microstructural characterization of materials, mechanical characterization of materials, and material testing of high-temperature ceramics and alloys. http://fastceramics.com.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

TTO’s Tallman Promoted to Interim Leader of Tech Transfer

BOULDER (July 17, 2013) – Kate Tallman, senior director for CU’s Technology Transfer Office (TTO) at the Boulder and Colorado Springs campuses, has been named Interim Associate Vice President of Technology Transfer for the university.

Patrick O’Rourke, vice president, university counsel and secretary to the Board of Regents, announced the promotion, which took effect July 1. Tallman succeeds Tom Smerdon, who served in the same role since last August, when David Allen, associate vice president for Technology Transfer, left the university. Smerdon is pursuing new opportunities in his home state of Texas.

“I am grateful to Tom for his service, especially over the last year as he has led the office,” O’Rourke said. “During his tenure, Tom expanded the support for industry research initiatives, maintained key relationships, and streamlined agreement templates.

“I am also excited that Kate has agreed to lead the office.”

Experienced tech transfer innovator 

Tallman has been with TTO since 2002. During her time there, invention, patent and licensing activity on the Boulder campus has more than doubled, enabled by constant innovation in business practices. She will continue to focus on enhancing the pipeline of high-value intellectual properties and help define the role of innovation management in collaborative development opportunities with industry.

 Tallman previously was director of marketing and co-founder of Roving Planet, a venture-backed Colorado software company specializing in wireless LAN technology; it was later acquired by 3Com, then HP. She earned her MBA from CU-Boulder’s Leeds College of Business, where she focused on marketing. She previously spent four years as a research analyst, performing market and financial analysis of health care companies.

Filling other roles at TTO 

Taking over as tech transfer director for CU’s Boulder and Colorado Springs campuses will be MaryBeth Vellequette, Ph.D., who joined TTO’s Boulder licensing group in 2009. Vellequette is an experienced patent agent, having worked at both OmniVision Technologies and local law firm Greenlee, Winner & Sullivan; she also served as vice president of R&D for startup diagnostics company DDx, Inc. Vellequette has an undergraduate degree in Chemistry from Mount Holyoke College, and a Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from Stanford University.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

TTO Announces CU Denver|Anschutz Technology Transfer Awards

Awards will honor researchers and companies working to treat autoimmune diseases and develop better influenza vaccines.

AURORA (May 14, 2013) – The University of Colorado Technology Transfer Office (TTO) will present awards today to university researchers and companies who represent best practices in commercialization of university technologies.

 The TTO will present awards to a CU School of Medicine inventor, a startup company and a business advisor during its awards luncheon at the Anschutz Medical Campus, along with recognizing researchers who were awarded U.S. patents last year. The luncheon will also feature remarks from Lilly Marks (Executive Vice Chancellor of the Anschutz Medical Campus and CU Vice President for Health Affairs) and William Arend, Professor Emeritus of Medicine and inventor of Kineret®, the first FDA-approved drug developed at CU.

In the last two decades, inventions by researchers from CU’s four campuses have led to the formation of 124 new companies. Of these, 88 have operations in Colorado, seven have “gone public,” becoming publicly traded companies (either through an IPO or via a reverse merger), and 18 have been acquired by public companies. In total, companies created based on CU technology have attracted over $6.1 billion in financing.

“One of the highlights of the year for TTO staff is taking time out to recognize the excellence in our research enterprise,” said Rick Silva, Senior Director of Technology Transfer for CU Denver|Anschutz. “The potential impact of the contributions that the awardees have made to their fields, and to medicine in general, are substantial: millions of people can be positively impacted by the biomedical innovations our awardees have committed their lives and careers to developing. Their devotion to their work exemplifies the mix of optimism and ingenuity necessary to achieve something as difficult as developing a drug. Congratulations and thanks to Drs. Bennett, Duke, Holmes, Hodges, and Lacey for the excellent work they do for society.”

This year’s award winners include:

Jeffrey Bennett, Inventor of the Year, CU Denver|Anschutz. Bennett, a professor of neurology and ophthalmology in the CU School of Medicine’s Department of Neurology, developed a new treatment for neuromyelitis optica, a rare autoimmune disease that causes inflammation and demyelination of nerve cells, ultimately leading to loss of nerve function with significant morbidity and mortality. With his collaborators, Dr. Bennett created a human recombinant monoclonal antibody to target NMO; this technology has been optioned to a venture-backed startup company cofounded by the inventors.

PeptiVir, Company of the Year, CU Denver|Anschutz. PeptiVir, Inc. (Aurora, CO) is an early stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the development and commercialization of a vaccine platform for the prevention of viral diseases. PeptiVir’s lead product, PVI-1000, has the potential to be a “universal” influenza vaccine protecting across multiple strains, with either one-time administration or occasional boosters providing protection for multiple seasons. PeptiVir was founded in 2010 based on the work of a CU research group led by Robert Hodges, PhD (Biochemistry & Molecular Genetics) and Kathryn Holmes, PhD (emerita, Microbiology) of the CU School of Medicine. The research program was one of the first to receive funding from the State of Colorado Bioscience and Discovery Evaluation Grant (BDEG) program; the company also received funding through the matching grant portion of the BDEG program. The company’s acting CEO is Richard Duke, PhD, also of the CU School of Medicine; Duke, along with the Colorado Institute for Drug, Device and Diagnostic Development (CID4), played a leading role in PeptiVir’s founding and funding.

David Lacey, Business Advisory of the Year. Lacey is a former Senior Vice President and Head of Discovery Research at Amgen, and holds an MD from the University of Colorado; he has over 30 years of basic and clinical research experience. He has served as an advisor to the Colorado Bioscience Discovery and Evaluation Grant (BDEG) program, and has generously advised the university on commercialization matters, development programs, and transactions.

Awards to CU researchers and startups at other CU campuses were presented at separate campus events in April.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Syndax Pharmaceutical to Commercialize First-in-Class Lung Cancer Treatment Developed at the University of Colorado

Licensing agreement allows development of a novel combination therapeutic for non-small-cell lung carcinoma, a type of lung cancer difficult to treat with conventional chemotherapy.

AURORA, Colo., May 9, 2013 – The University of Colorado (CU) has signed an exclusive, worldwide licensing agreement with Syndax Pharmaceuticals, a company focused on the development of novel combination strategies for cancers that have become resistant to standard treatments. The license allows Syndax to commercialize and market a treatment approach developed by a team led by Paul Bunn (a professor of medical oncology at the CU School of Medicine and a former director of the CU Cancer Center) in which two existing classes of drugs are combined to create a more effective, synergistic chemotherapy for a resistant type of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Syndax, in collaboration with Bunn and his colleagues at CU, completed a phase 2 clinical trial in NSCLC, the results of which were published in 2012, and based on those findings intends to begin key phase 3 testing across a number of solid tumor indications.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in men and women in the U.S., and the leading worldwide cause of cancer death. Nearly 80% of lung cancers are categorized as non-small-cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC), a grouping that includes all lung cancers except the small-cell type (the type mostly closely associated with smoking). NSCLCs are much less sensitive to chemotherapy and radiation compared to small-cell lung carcinoma, so surgical removal of the affected lobe of the lung is often the preferred treatment if the disease is diagnosed early enough. Most often, by the time the disease is diagnosed it has already begun to metastasize, making surgical treatment a less effective treatment option; for advanced or metastatic NSCLC, chemotherapy and radiation can improve life expectancy and relieve some symptoms, but these treatments do not typically cure the disease. The five-year survival rate for stage IV disease (40% of newly-diagnosed patients) is just 1%.

Several oral cancer chemotherapies (such as Tarceva) target EGFR (epidermal growth factor receptor), a receptor that exists on the surface of human cells for epidermal growth factor (EGF), which helps normal cells grow, multiply and differentiate into the specific types of cells needed by the body. When genetic mutations cause cells to produce too much EGFR, cells begin to grow and multiply too rapidly, and a number of different types of cancer can result, including lung cancer. Drugs that inhibit EGFR can be effective treatments for patients whose cancers have this particular mutation, but even these cancers are likely to develop resistance to EGFR inhibitors when their cells mutate to become less dependent on EGF.

Bunn’s CU research group, working in collaboration with Syndax, learned that the company’s drug entinostat – a highly selective histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor – prevents NSCLC cells from developing resistance to EGFR inhibitors. HDAC inhibitors have been in use for decades as mood stabilizers and anti-seizure drugs, but only recently have been investigated as potential treatments for cancer. When entinostat was combined with an EGFR inhibitor in a clinical trial taking place at CU and other locations, the results showed promising benefits to NSCLC patients whose tumors had high levels of E-cadherin, a molecular marker for cancer. CU Cancer Center researchers, who are faculty at the CU School of Medicine, were the first to identify elevated E-cadherin as a targetable NSCLC biomarker, the first to develop the biomarker tumor testing process for elevated E-cadherin in NSCLC, and the first to test the combined therapy.

“Cancer cells that remain most similar to normal lung lining (epithelial) cells are most likely to benefit from the combined therapy, and these most susceptible cells can be identified with an antibody to a protein on the cells called E-cadherin,“ said Paul Bunn, MD, professor of medical oncology at the CU medical school and principal investigator of the University of Colorado Cancer Center’s Specialized Program of Research Excellence in Lung Cancer, funded by the National Cancer Institute. “Entinostat causes an even higher expression of E-cadherin, and this is associated with increased sensitivity to oral anti-EGFR drugs.“ About 40 percent of NSCLC patients have elevated E-cadherin levels, making this a significant advance towards highly personalized treatment for lung cancer patients.

The license agreement between CU and Syndax will allow the company to move forward with testing and development of this combined treatment approach, and also includes an option to license the CU-discovered biomarkers needed to identify the patients who are most likely to benefit from the treatment.

“We have had a longstanding and productive research and clinical collaboration with Dr. Bunn and his colleagues at CU, and are excited to complete this licensing agreement as a culmination of that work and to take a significant step towards the development and commercialization of entinostat in NSCLC,“ said Arlene Morris, CEO of Syndax.

“The university has held great hope for this particular line of therapy since Dr. Bunn and his team first disclosed their findings,“ said David Poticha, a senior licensing manager at the CU Technology Transfer Office. “We are extremely pleased to be partnered with a company like Syndax to develop this treatment.“

About Syndax Pharmaceuticals 
Syndax is a late-stage oncology company initiating pivotal programs in solid tumors based on employing epigenetic strategies to overcome the problem of resistance in oncology care. Syndax holds worldwide rights to entinostat, an oral, highly selective histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor being developed in advanced breast and lung cancer. Randomized, placebo-controlled phase 2 studies with entinostat have demonstrated promising results in combination with aromatase inhibitors in breast cancer (ENCORE 301) and with the EGFR-TKI erlotinib (ENCORE 401) in non-small cell lung cancer providing the basis for moving entinostat into pivotal, phase 3 testing across a platform of solid tumor indications. NCI and Syndax are collaborating on the development of entinostat under a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement. The company is supported by top venture capitalists and led by industry experts developing treatments for large markets including metastatic breast and lung cancer. Formed in 2005, Syndax's intellectual property is based on work from scientific founder Ronald Evans, Ph.D., recipient of the 2004 Albert Lasker Prize for Basic Medical Research, a Member of the National Academy of Sciences, a professor at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. For more information please visit www.syndax.com.

Monday, April 1, 2013

TTO Announces Boulder Campus Technology Transfer Awards

Researchers working on more efficient building systems, less-toxic cancer treatments and healthier aging among those honored for technology commercialization. 

BOULDER (Apr. 1, 2013) – The University of Colorado Technology Transfer Office (TTO) will present awards tonight to university researchers and companies who represent best practices in commercialization of university technologies.

 The TTO will present the Boulder campus awards – to four researchers and one startup company – during its annual Entrepreneurship Under the Microscope event, a celebration of campus entrepreneurship co-hosted with CU-Boulder’s Deming Center for Entrepreneurship.

In the last two decades, inventions by researchers from CU’s four campuses have led to the formation of 124 new companies. Of these, 88 have operations in Colorado, seven have “gone public,” becoming publicly traded companies (either through an IPO or via a reverse merger), and 18 have been acquired by public companies. In total, companies created based on CU technology have attracted over $6.1 billion in financing.

“This year’s award winners represent groundbreaking research from different corners of CU-Boulder,” said Kate Tallman, Senior Director of Technology Transfer for CU-Boulder. “What these inventors have in common is an ability to work effectively with the local business community to explore and realize the commercial value of their research findings.”

The researchers and companies recognized this year are developing technologies ranging from cancer therapies to energy efficiency to dramatically improved computer networking. This year’s award winners include:

Xuedong Liu, Inventor of the Year, CU-Boulder. Liu, a professor of chemistry and biochemistry, is creating novel, less-toxic kinase inhibitor drugs to treat cancer. Liu has founded two companies based on his inventions, most recently OnKure, which is commercializing a new cancer therapy developed by Liu and his colleagues.


Moncef Krarti, New Inventor of the Year, CU-Boulder. Krarti is a professor of civil, environmental and architectural engineering; his work focuses on improving building energy management. He is collaborating with CU Cleantech and TTO to commercialize building assessment technology through a Boulder company.



Douglas Seals, New Inventor of the Year, CU-Boulder. Seals, a professor of integrative physiology, is exploring promising research into dietary supplements that could enhance heart health, and is working with TTO to optimize the intellectual property and Innovation Center of the Rockies to optimize the commercial opportunity.

LineRate Systems, Company of the Year. LineRate Systems (Louisville, CO) is developing technologies around software-defined networking, a computer networking approach that allows network behavior to be governed by high-level software programming, rather than by the low-level configurations of the network's devices, making networks easier to configure, manage, troubleshoot, and debug. The company was acquired by F5 Networks in February 2013.

Additionally, the TTO will induct Tom Cathey (Professor Emeritus, Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering) into the Pinnacles of Inventorship, an all-star group recognizing continuous commitment to best practices in technology transfer. Cathey was a co-founder of CU startup CDM Optics (acquired by OmniVision in 2005).

Awards to CU researchers, startups and advisors at other CU campuses will be presented at separate campus events in April and May.

Friday, March 15, 2013

University of Colorado Licenses Dental Polymer Technology to 3M

Technology reduces shrinkage, improves durability of fillings, dental implants

BOULDER, Colo., March 15, 2013 – An advanced polymer technology developed at the University of Colorado Boulder was recently licensed to 3M, a diversified technology company based in St. Paul, Minn. The licensed technology, developed by a team led by CU-Boulder Distinguished Professor Christopher Bowman, enables formation of very low-shrinkage composites, improving performance of many materials currently used in dental fillings and sealants, dentures and dental implants.

Current dental restoration methods use light-cured polymer materials fitted by a dentist or oral surgeon; eventually, the internal stresses built up within the material by the curing process cause it to shrink, which decreases the effectiveness and durability of the restoration. For instance, as the material within a dental filling shrinks, the seal binding the filling to the tooth surface is compromised, and recurrent decay may occur beneath the fillings; this can cause serious damage to patients’ gums and teeth damage until repaired. The process pioneered by Dr. Bowman uses a unique light-cured material that reduces the physical stress within dental composites, avoiding shrinkage and other physical changes in the restoration. Dental restorations using this new composition will prove more durable, require fewer replacements, and improve patient comfort and dental health.

“We are delighted that 3M has licensed Dr. Bowman’s polymerization technology, and we believe that the technology presents the 3M team with numerous opportunities for product development not only in dental applications but in any product category that would benefit from reduced polymer shrinkage,” said MaryBeth Vellequette, a licensing manager at CU’s technology transfer office.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Orphan Technologies to Develop New Treatment for Life-Threatening Metabolic Disorder from the University of Colorado

Licensing and collaboration agreements enable development of enzyme replacement therapy for Homocystinuria, a rare metabolic disorder 

AURORA, Colo., February 20, 2013 – The University of Colorado (CU) has signed exclusive, worldwide licensing and collaboration agreements with rare-disease research-and-development firm Orphan Technologies Ltd to develop an enzyme replacement therapy for Cystathionine Beta-Synthase (CBS) -deficient homocystinuria, a rare, inherited metabolic disease that is often fatal at a young age. The collaboration was initiated in 2010 and includes sponsored-research funding by OT to continue development of the treatment approach pioneered by Jan P. Kraus, a professor of pediatrics at the CU School of Medicine. Orphan Technologies plans to begin first-in-human trials in 2014.

CBS-deficient homocystinuria is a rare genetic disorder caused by low levels of active CBS enzyme. Individuals with this disease are unable to fully metabolize the amino acid methionine, which is found in nearly all foods. That leads to the accumulation of toxic levels of related metabolites (molecules that are the product of metabolism), and deficits in others.

Patients with homocystinuria suffer major multi-systemic disorder, including mental retardation, dislocation of the lens of the eye (leading to blindness if not treated), seizures, osteoporosis and stroke. Taken together, these lead to a significantly shorter life expectancy; almost one fourth of untreated patients die before the age of 30.

About 40% of patients with homocystinuria benefit from vitamin B6 supplementation. But for the rest, treatment is limited to a methionine-restricted (low protein) diet and supplementation with cystine, folate, and betaine (Cystadane) which partially restore metabolic balance; however, these treatment approaches do not repair the broken methionine metabolic cycle and don’t resolve all metabolic abnormalities, so patients still suffer from severe, life-threating symptoms.

Professor Kraus has devised an enzyme replacement therapy to correct the underlying cause of the disease. This approach has the potential to restore the normal metabolism of methionine, which could avoid the accumulation of toxic levels of metabolites, prevent the appearance or worsening of symptoms, normalize life expectancy, and eliminate the need for diet restrictions.

“Today the therapy for homocystinuria concentrates on lowering the concentration of a single metabolite, homocysteine, while metabolites further downstream are unaffected by the available treatment,” said Professor Kraus. “However, these downstream metabolites may be of considerable clinical significance, and our approach has the potential to restore all the affected metabolites to their normal level, and as such reduce or prevent symptoms and enable a return to a normal diet.”

CBS-deficient homocystinuria impacts at least 1 in 300,000 people worldwide (though prevalence may be higher due to under-diagnosis). It is designated by the U.S. Office of Rare Diseases Research (part of the National Institutes of Health) as a rare disease. Because of the smaller market, drugs to treat these ‘orphan diseases’ are eligible for special financial and clinical trial incentives (including fast-tracked FDA approval) and extended exclusivity periods in the U.S, Europe and other countries.

"We are excited to partner with CU and Professor Jan Kraus, a pioneer in the field of homocystinuria, in order to advance the development of a potential therapy for this tragic disease," said Josef Rosenberg, Director of Orphan Technologies. "Our collaboration is intended to accelerate the translation of fundamental advances in enzyme biochemistry at CU into the introduction of a new clinical therapy. Our alliance with CU constitutes another important step towards the reinforcement of Orphan's presence in the field of rare diseases worldwide."

"We are encouraged by the preclinical data for this technology and believe that it could bring hope for a patient population desperately in need of clinical alternatives," said David Poticha, a senior licensing manager at CU’s technology transfer office. "We are very pleased to be working with Orphan to develop this technology for those patients."

About Orphan Technologies Ltd.: 
Orphan Technologies, Ltd. is a biopharmaceutical company focused on the research and development of innovative therapies for rare, life-threatening diseases with unmet medical needs. The Company's goal is to advance treatments for a portfolio of rare diseases, aiming to positively transform the lives of patients. The Company's pipeline includes product candidates at various development stages from a combination of in-licensed patents from academia and company-sponsored research initiatives. This approach is expected to reveal the fundamental biology of rare diseases and to provide groundbreaking therapies. www.orphantechnologies.com

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Advanced Conductor Technologies to Develop CU High-Performance Superconducting Cable

Thinner, more versatile superconducting cables have potential for high-energy density power transmission, high-field magnets and energy storage. 

BOULDER, Colo., July 18, 2012 – Advanced Conductor Technologies LLC and the University of Colorado recently completed an exclusive option agreement to allow the company to develop high-temperature superconducting cables that could be an enabling technology for high-current, DC power transmission and for the next generation of high-field magnets.

The technology portfolio covered by the option was developed by Danko van der Laan, a physicist with appointments at CU-Boulder and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). High-temperature superconducting (HTS) cables were initially developed for metropolitan electrical networks because of their economy, reliability, and large transmission capacity. Van der Laan has developed a technique to make thinner, more flexible HTS cables that can carry the same (or greater) current. These more-compact cables have immediate applications in electrical grids and scientific and medical equipment; they may also enable HTS power transmission for military applications.

Cross-section of a high-temperature superconducting cable design invented by van der Laan. In the center are copper wires bundled with nylon and plastic insulation. The outer rings are a series of superconducting tapes wrapped in spirals around the copper.

Looking forward, this technique opens the door to new markets that require flexible, high-current density power transmission cables, and also has potential for superconducting transformers, generators, and magnetic energy storage devices. “The exclusive option agreement with CU is an important step for my company to develop what are now called conductor on round core (CORC) cables,” says van der Laan.

Within a year of its founding, Advanced Conductor Technologies was awarded three small business grants from the Department of Energy and the Department of Defense; the company is currently commercializing the CORC cables for the next generation of fusion magnets, energy storage magnets for airborne directed energy weapons and high-energy density cables for naval applications. “Advanced Conductor Technologies is pursuing an aggressive development effort to bring this promising technology to market,” adds Ted Weverka of the CU Technology Transfer Office.

About Advanced Conductor Technologies:
Advanced Conductor Technologies LLC is a new company that focuses on the commercialization of high-temperature superconducting cables using the new cable technology developed by its founder, Danko van der Laan, while at the University of Colorado Boulder and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The cable technology opens the door to new markets that require flexible, high-current density power transmission cables. It also forms the basis for the first practical superconducting cable for high-field magnets that operate at magnetic fields above 20 Tesla, or at temperatures exceeding 20 Kelvin. http://advancedconductor.com.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Ten CU Research Groups Receive Tech Commercialization Grants from State of Colorado

Grant recipients are developing new treatments and diagnostics for diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and other disorders; the grants are designed to bring the research programs closer to market readiness. 

DENVER (June 7, 2012) – Ten CU research projects were recently selected to receive 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 proof-of-concept grants to move promising CU biotechnologies closer to market readiness, as well as 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 (learn about 2011-12 grants to CU licensees under this program).

CU research projects that have received (or will soon receive) funding in the 2011-12 round:

Christopher Bowman, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, CU-Boulder, for inexpensive, highly-efficient synthetic nucleic acids for use in nanoassembly, biodetection and other biofunctional applications.

Heide Ford, Ph.D.
Heide Ford, Department of Pathology and Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, and Andrew Thorburn, Department of Pharmacology, CU Anschutz Medical Campus, for a novel biomarker to predict treatment response in solid tumors.

Robert Garcea, BioFrontiers Institute, Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, CU-Boulder, for a next-generation vaccine for human papillomavirus (HPV).

Richard Johnson, Department of Medicine (Renal Diseases & Hypertension), CU Anschutz Medical Campus, for a novel treatment to prevent acute kidney injury following surgery or use of radiocontrast agents.

Malik Kahook, Department of Ophthalmology, CU Anschutz Medical Campus, for an implanted device to reduce intraocular pressure and treat glaucoma.

Uday B. Kompella, Ph.D.
Uday Kompella, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, CU Anschutz Medical Campus, for a new drug to treat “wet” age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Leslie Leinwand, BioFrontiers Institute, Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, CU-Boulder, for novel drugs to protect from cardiac disease.

David Wagner, Department of Medicine (Pulmonary Sciences & Critical Care Medicine), CU Anschutz Medical Campus, for a drug to prevent/reverse high blood sugar in type-1 diabetes.

Xiao-Jing Wang, Department of Pathology, CU Anschutz Medical Campus, for a drug to treat oral mucositis, a common side effect of radiation therapy.

Hang (Hubert) Yin, Ph.D.
Hang (Hubert) Yin, BioFrontiers Institute, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, CU-Boulder, for more sensitive biomarkers for metastatic cancers and other diseases in body fluids.

“The BDEG award winners this year show an incredible breadth and depth of bioscience research and innovation,” said Tom Cech, Director of CU’s BioFrontiers Institute, an interdisciplinary center designed to explore critical frontiers of unknown biology and translate new knowledge to practical applications. “The BDEG program provides a powerful catalyst to get these ideas out of their academic institutions and into the marketplace.” The institute provided the required matching funds for the grants to Boulder-based researchers Christopher Bowman, Robert Garcea, Leslie Leinwand and Hang (Hubert) Yin.