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Madison tech company qualified for investor tax credits

The Capital Times —  6/26/2008 8:22 pm

Perscitus Biosciences LLC of Madison is one of two companies the state Department of Commerce has qualified for investor tax credits under the Angel Investor and Venture Fund Tax Credit programs.

The Angel Investor and Venture Fund Tax Credit programs offer Wisconsin income tax credits to angel investors and investors in seed-stage venture capital funds. The programs are designed to increase the supply of both qualified angel investors and investors in qualified venture capital funds. The tax credits are available only for investments made in technology businesses qualified by the state.

"Spurring more venture capital investment is essential to the state's economic growth," Gov. Jim Doyle said in a statement. "By encouraging investors to make crucial investments, we are turning great ideas into viable, job-creating businesses. "

Founded in 2006, Perscitus is developing and commercializing a novel chemoprotectant molecule and a protein assay. The molecule has shown an ability to protect healthy human cells against the harmful effects of chemotherapy and radiation. The assay allows researchers to accelerate the identification of unknown binding proteins. To learn more, go to

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U.S. Patent Office Issues Certificates to Uphold WARF Stem Cell Patents (Jun 26, 2008)

 June 26, 2008
Contact: Janet Kelly (608 )890-1491,

U.S. Patent Office Issues Certificates to Uphold WARF Stem Cell Patents
Action Concludes Reexam for University of Wisconsin-Madison's Most Important Base Embryonic Stem Cell Discoveries

Madison, Wis. – The United States Patent and Trademark Office has issued Reexamination Certificates for the two most important base embryonic stem cell patents held by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF). This action officially concludes a reexamination process for these patents that began in October 2006, and was decided in WARF's favor in March of this year.

The patent office issued certificates for patents ?780 and ?806, which date back more than a decade to the breakthrough discovery of the isolation and culture of primate and human embryonic stem cells made at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. This ruling is not appealable, which means that the claims of these patents stand confirmed and enforceable.

"We are extremely pleased that the patent office has officially concluded these reexaminations," states Carl Gulbrandsen, WARF managing director. "Due to the patent office's extremely thorough and detailed reexaminations, we feel our patents are stronger than ever and affirm that Dr. James Thomson's groundbreaking discoveries are patentable inventions."

Thomson, the renowned stem cell researcher and pioneer, is a professor of anatomy at the UW-Madison and recently was appointed director of regenerative biology at the Morgridge Institute for Research, part of the new Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery.

The challenge to the patents was brought by the New York-based Public Patent Foundation and the California-based Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights. A third patent, ?913, also was included in the challenge and was upheld earlier this year. However, as this more recently issued patent follows a slightly different process, it still is subject to appeal by the third-party requestor.

Gulbrandsen noted that patent protection is vital for attracting the significant private sector investment necessary to develop commercial applications for stem cells. "Human embryonic stem cells provide researchers powerful tools for testing drugs at the cellular level, which may lead to astonishing advances in pharmaceutical development, particularly in the field of personalized medicine, and reduce reliance on animal testing. They also have the potential to offer new treatments and cures for devastating diseases such as diabetes, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and spinal cord injuries that afflict millions of people around the world," he states.

"But, it takes millions upon millions of dollars to develop and bring new medical discoveries to market, and without patents to protect their investments and the opportunity to generate profits, companies will not commit resources to the lengthy and costly development and clinical trials process."

Since the announcement that its patents were upheld, WARF has seen increased interest in licensing its stem cell technologies. It currently has completed 30 license agreements with 25 companies, including an agreement just signed with Invitrogen Corporation last month. Gulbrandsen notes that any revenues WARF earns from licensing these and other technologies to companies is used to support further research at the UW-Madison.

In addition, WARF continues to support the distribution of cell lines and methodologies for isolating and culturing human embryonic stem cells to researchers through its affiliate, the nonprofit WiCell Research Institute. WiCell, which hosts the National Stem Cell Bank, has fulfilled more than 900 free academic licenses for patent rights to stem cells and has shipped cells to more than 500 researchers in 25 countries and 40 states.

Academic scientists using these cell lines and methodologies face no restrictions on patenting or publishing their own novel work. Currently, two vials containing approximately six million stem cell that are capable of establishing multiple new colonies are priced for academic researchers at $500.

WARF was established as the world's first university-based technology transfer office in 1925. As a private, nonprofit foundation, it supports world class research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison by funding research, protecting the intellectual property of the university faculty, staff and students and by licensing inventions resulting from their work to benefit humankind.

Madison's Cellular Dynamics named one of nation's best biotechnology companies

The Capital Times —  6/26/2008 12:53 pm


Cellular Dynamics, co-founded by UW-Madison stem cell research pioneer Jamie Thompson, was named as one of the nation's top 15 biotechnology companies by FierceBiotech (, an online news source for the biotech industry.

In naming the Madison company one of its "Fierce 15" winners, the Web site notes: "Cellular Dynamics has set out to do something unique in the stem cell field: Make money. Working with the scientific know-how of stem cell pioneer Jamie Thomson at the University of Wisconsin, the company is run by a group of Midwestern pragmatists who believe that stem cells can blaze a new path toward more efficient drug development, offering an early look at how human cells will respond to an experimental therapy. And they've actively begun marketing products in a breakthrough for the entire stem cell field."

FierceBiotech also said the company is unique in the stem cell industry in that it already has a product that can be marketed for drug discovery.

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Researchers develop neural implant that learns with the brain

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Devices known as brain-machine interfaces could someday be used routinely to help paralyzed patients and amputees control prosthetic limbs with just their thoughts. Now, University of Florida researchers have taken the concept a step further, devising a way for computerized devices not only to translate brain signals into movement but also to evolve with the brain as it learns.

Instead of simply interpreting brain signals and routing them to a robotic hand or leg, this type of brain-machine interface would adapt to a person’s behavior over time and use the knowledge to help complete a task more efficiently, sort of like an assistant, say UF College of Medicine and College of Engineering researchers who developed a model system and tested it in rats.

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Wisconsin moves up in ranking of technology

No. 22 rating 5 higher than spot in ’04 survey

Posted: June 23, 2008

With its investment in biosciences and bioenergy research, and leadership in stem cell research, Wisconsin has continued to expand its knowledge economy, a new report by the Milken Institute shows.

The state ranked 22nd in the institute’s State Technology and Science Index, moving up from 27th in 2004, the last time the report was done.

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Medical College of Wisconsin Microwave Engineers in Biophysics Awarded NIH Grant for EPR Spectroscopy in Aqueous Solutions

The Medical College of Wisconsin has received a four-year, $1.6 million grant from the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering of the National Institutes of Health to advance microwave engineering in electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectroscopy. EPR is a form of microwave spectroscopy used to study matter on a molecular level. 

In biomedical EPR, the sample (for example, a protein) is nearly always in water. When exposed to microwave radiation, it tends to absorb energy and may become warm, just as in a microwave oven, which can invalidate the data. 

Most people have had experience with microwave ovens and radar weather reports. Both were developed by microwave engineers, who constitute a branch of electrical engineering. The Medical College has a distinguished group of microwave engineers, members of the research team at its National Biomedical Electron Paramagnetic Resonance (EPR) Center in the department of biophysics. 

This team has developed special techniques to avoid change of temperature. This grant will help further advance these new techniques by high-frequency modeling of microwave fields for samples in water.

James S. Hyde, Ph.D., professor of biophysics and director of the National Biomedical EPR Center, is principal investigator for the new grant. Other research team members are visiting professor of biophysics, Wojciech Froncisz, Ph.D., D.Sc., professor of biophysics, Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland; associate adjunct professor of biophysics, Richard R. Mett, Ph.D., associate professor of physics and chemistry, Milwaukee School of Engineering; and Jason W. Sidabras, microwave engineer III, and James R. Anderson, engineer III, both in the department of biophysics at the Medical College.

Stem Cell Treatment Credited for Giving Boy, 2, His Sight Back

By Elizabeth Alvarez

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35, Orlando) -- A local mother is amazed her son is gaining his vision back.

When he was a baby, two year old Tre Burgos was diagnosed with Optic Nerve Hypoplasia which causes blindness.

Two months ago Abby Wolfe took her son to China to undergo experimental stem cell treatment. "

Two weeks prior to leaving we went over to Shands over in Gainesville. " said Wolfe, “His vision was rated at 20/1200, and when we went back 3 weeks ago his vision was rated at 20/200."

Tre’s treatment involved four stem cell injections through an I.V. and a catheter through the spine.

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Madison biotech Mithridion merges with Cognitive Pharmaceuticals


Mithridion, a Madison biotech company that has been viewed as one of the area's promising startups, is getting a new lease on life.

The company at 505 Science Drive has merged with Cognitive Pharmaceuticals, of Toledo, Ohio. Terms were not announced this week, but the merged firm will be called Mithridion and will keep its headquarters in Madison.

Both companies were working on drug compounds to combat the effects of Alzheimer's disease on the brain. Cognitive's prospective drug appears to work, in preclinical studies. Mithridion's doesn't do what was hoped, the company realized late last year.

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Huge possibilities, tiny product

For UW-affiliated startup, electronic parts are no big deal

Posted: June 1, 2008

Some day in the not too distant future, a TV as thin as a poster could hang on your wall.

There's a good chance, too, that a Platteville-area company, founded in part by a 17-year-old boy, will have played a critical role in creating that product.

Graphene Solutions is a 3-month-old company with a patent-pending technology that dissolves carbon nanotubes, graphene nanosheets and other materials so they can be purified and spread in a layer one atom thick.

That could pave the way for electronic components, like computer chips, that are dramatically smaller with much greater capacity.

"If you can very easily, reproducibly lay out a one-atom-thick layer of carbon, this is the new silicon," said Carl Gulbrandsen, managing director of the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, or WARF, which helped the company get started. WARF is the patenting and licensing arm for the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Graphene Solutions is applying its technology to the manufacture of graphenes like carbon nanotubes - tiny, stronger-than-steel tubes that disperse heat and conduct electricity much better than silicon. Carbon nanotubes are expected to be critical for the next generation of electronics, optics and other fields of materials science.

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