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Memorial Researchers Sign Deal with Technology Powerhouse
Memorial researchers, Dr. Hu Liu, Dr. Lili Wang and Wu Xiao, School of Pharmacy, have developed a new radio-imaging probe designed to identify plaque lesions associated with atherosclerosis. Dr. Liu and Dr. Wang described the technology as "a special chemical which has been developed and packaged into a blood-borne particle which has strong affinity to seek the plaques already formed in the arteries."
Dr. Liu went on to explain, "once the plaques swallow the particle the special chemical will be released and deposited in the plaque region. The chemical was designed to emit a strong beam and create a hot spot in the plaque. Such a beam can penetrate the human body and strike the film in a CT scanner or gamma camera. The image recorded in the camera correlates to the location and the extent of plaques of the patient, which normally would not be visualized from the outside of the human body. The identification of the extent of disease will provide accurate information, which will allow the effective pharmacological and dietary interventions to prevent, and/or slowdown the development of atherosclerotic plaques. This detection method could also be used to monitor surgical and therapeutic treatment of patients."
Wu Xiao, a former graduate student in Dr. Liu's laboratory at the time the discovery was made passed away last year and did not see the success of this technology. Dr. Chet Jablonski, dean of the School of Graduate Studies, feels that the contribution made to commercial inventions by graduate students is vital in the University setting.
"Memorial's external research funding is now approaching 50 million dollars per year. Not many people have a full appreciation of the crucial role played by our graduate students in achieving this success. In fact, much if not most of the "hands-on" research is actually done by graduate students as part of their master's or doctoral programs. They work, under close guidance of their supervisors, on thousands of fundamental and applied research projects in fields ranging from physics to folklore. An increasing fraction of the money needed to drive this research comes from external, private sector sources. It is especially satisfying when that research not only provides an exciting learning opportunity and generates new knowledge, but also leads to the development of valuable intellectual property."
The technology was developed with the help of the GENESIS Group, the technology commercialization arm of Memorial University. GENESIS signed a significant licensing deal with BTG International during BIO 2003 in Washington, D.C. last month. BTG International is a multi-million dollar organization with operations in Europe and the USA. BTG is similar to a venture capital company, except that it invests in technologies, not companies. BTG reviews hundreds of technologies a year but invests in less than 15 percent of them. BTG is known for the commercialization of the MRI and the hovercraft.
GENESIS Group will receive up-front payments and royalties on sales of the technology. Under the MUNFA agreement, researchers and the University share in revenues generated from the commercialization of technologies. The up-front payment has been received from BTG and the revenue will be shared 50 per cent to the researchers and 50 per cent to GENESIS. Once royalty payments flow from the invention, these will be shared between the two groups as well.
"I am pleased to see income starting from technology transfer. I welcome BTG's involvement with Memorial researchers and I look forward to increased activity in the future, said Lee Shinkle, chair of the Board for the GENESIS Group.This is a good example of the purpose of the GENESIS Group inside Memorial University to assist in the transfer of knowledge to usability."
"The contributions of GENESIS in commercializing these biotechnology research successes show just how well the system works," said Dr. Jablonski.
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