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Adult Stem Cells Show Same Ability to Self-Renew as Embryonic

Breakthrough Study at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Finds Adult Stem Cells Show Same Ability to Self-Renew as Embryonic

PITTSBURGH – June 23, 2005 – In a ground-breaking study, scientists at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh have discovered that adult, or post-natal, stem cells have the same ability as embryonic stem cells to multiply, a previously unknown characteristic indicating that post-natal stem cells may play an important therapeutic role.

Adult and post-natal stem cells are often overlooked in favor of embryonic stem cells in the national debate over the therapeutic use of stem cells. Until now, it has been generally believed that embryonic stem cells had a greater capacity to multiply than post-natal stem cells, making them more desirable to research as a potential treatment, according to Johnny Huard, PhD, director of the Growth and Development Laboratory at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

“Scientists have typically believed that adult or post-natal stem cells grow old and die much sooner than embryonic stem cells, but this study demonstrates that is not the case,” said Dr. Huard, senior author of the study. “The entire world is closely following the advances in stem cell research, and everyone is interested in the potential of stem cells to treat everything from diabetes to Parkinson’s disease. But there are also many ethical concerns surrounding the use of embryonic stem cells, concerns that you don’t have with post-natal or adult stem cells. My belief is that this study should erase doubts scientists may have had about the potential effectiveness of post-natal stem cells.”

Full story.

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Congress Tunes In to WiFi

Congress Tunes In to WiFi

By Robert MacMillan
washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
Monday, June 27, 2005; 10:45 AM

Mick Jagger said it best: 'The summer's here and the time is right for fighting in the street, boy."

The streets run through U.S. cities and towns, where the heat is on local governments to provide free or low-cost Internet access.

For almost a year, the debate over whether Internet access is a paid privilege like telephone service and cable television burbled along in the press and among bloggers and activists. Many see it as necessary to attract new residents, tourists and businesses. Internet service providers, however, see a threat to their billion-dollar high-speed access business. Now that cities such as Philadelphia are trying to make it a reality, the issue's significance is cresting. There's no better way to prove that than with two sets of numbers: 1294 and 2726.

The first is a Senate bill introduced last Thursday by Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.). The Community Broadband Act of 2005 says "no state can prohibit a municipality from offering broadband to its citizens."

The second is a bill introduced in late May in the House by Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas). The Preserving Innovation in Telecom Act of 2005 -- almost surely destined for shorthand treatment as "PRITA" -- says state and local governments can't offer Internet service if a private provider already does.

Full story.

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File-sharing services vulnerable

File-sharing services vulnerable
00:00 am 6/28/05
Ted Bridis AP technology writer

WASHINGTON - Hollywood and the music industry can file piracy lawsuits against technology companies caught encouraging customers to steal music and movies over the Internet, the Supreme Court ruled Monday.

The justices, aiming to curtail what they called a "staggering" volume of piracy online, largely set aside concerns that new lawsuits would inhibit technology companies from developing the next iPod or other high-tech gadgets or services.

The unanimous ruling is expected to have little immediate impact on consumers, though critics said it could lead companies to include digital locks to discourage illegal behavior.

The justices left in place legal protections for companies that merely learn customers might be using products for illegal purposes.

The justices said copying digital files such as movies, music or software programs "threatens copyright holders as never before" because it's so easy and popular, especially among young people. Entertainment companies maintain that online thieves trade 2.6 billion songs, movies and other digital files each month.

Full story.

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Two local venture-capital funds find that investing in Wisconsin is good for their returns

Helping to grow little companies
Two local venture-capital funds find that investing in Wisconsin is good for their returns and also
By KATHLEEN GALLAGHER
kgallagher@journalsentinel.com
Posted: June 26, 2005

Dan Broderick is a seasoned venture capitalist who headed the Mayo Clinic's technology commercialization office, prefers suburban life, and drives a truck.

Trevor D'Souza is a computer science expert with an MBA who ran a biotech software company, lives in the city and wears perfectly ironed shirts with well-chosen ties.

Together, they are part of the engine many are hoping will drive a knowledge-based economy that creates more high-paying jobs in Wisconsin.

Milwaukee-based Mason Wells hired Broderick and D'Souza five years ago as managing directors of its first venture capital fund, Biomedical Fund 1. Earlier this month, they told the fund's partners they intend this summer to start raising at least $100 million for a second such offering.

The average Wisconsin resident can't get into Mason Wells' venture capital funds - they're set up for deep-pocketed investments like endowments, pension funds and insurance companies. But down the road, that Wisconsin resident may well have people like Broderick and D'Souza to thank for making their state a better place to live.

Full story.

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James Thomson reflects on science and morality

Stem cell pioneer does a reality check
James Thomson reflects on science and morality

By Alan Boyle
Science editor
MSNBC
Updated: 4:13 p.m. ET June 22, 2005

MADISON, Wis. — Seven years ago, when James Thomson became the first scientist to isolate and culture human embryonic stem cells, he knew he was stepping into a whirlwind of controversy.

He just didn't expect the whirlwind to last this long.

In fact, the moral, ethical and political controversy is still revving up — in Washington, where federal lawmakers are considering a bill to provide more federal support for embryonic stem cell research; and in Madison, Thomson's base of operations, where Wisconsin legislators are considering new limits on stem cell research.

Thomson, a developmental biologist and veterinarian at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, made history in 1998 when he and fellow researchers derived the first embryonic stem cell lines from frozen human embryos. The breakthrough came after the news that a sheep named Dolly was born as the first cloned mammal — and together, the two announcements hinted at a brave new world of medical possibilities and moral debates.

Full story.

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U.S. Appeals Court Allows USPTO to Run Ads Warning about Invention Submission Corporation's "Invention Promotion Scams"

The US Court of Appeals for the Fourth District ruled that the USPTO may run ads warning the public about invention promotion scams. Invention Submission Corporation sued to stop the ads because they claimed the ads were not an appropriate activity of the USPTO.

"The print advertisements featured an inventor named Edward Lewis,
along with text that identified him by name and read, "I spent $13,000
and three years ‘spinning my wheels’ with a company that promised
my idea would make lots of money. They were right. It made lots of
money . . . for them. I haven’t seen a penny." The advertisement
ended with a general statement about avoiding "invention promotion
scams" and contact information for the PTO."

"A journalist for a cable television network, who saw the PTO’s
advertisements, interviewed Lewis and published a story revealing
that Lewis was referring in the advertisements to his relationship with
Invention Submission, a business engaged in assisting inventors with
obtaining patents. The article revealed that Lewis had filed a complaint
with the PTO in August 2001 that was "being processed." The
article also revealed that Invention Submission was one of several
companies investigated by the FTC in the 1990s "for misrepresentation
in patent marketing schemes." The article concluded with Invention
Submission’s response that it did nothing wrong and that its
representations and commercials misled neither Lewis nor anyone
else."

Download invention_submission_case.pdf

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WI Assembly backs ban on cloning

Doyle promises to veto bill if it reaches his desk

The Associated Press

MADISON — The Assembly approved one of the nation’s toughest bans on human cloning Thursday despite concerns the bill would cripple embryonic stem cell research in the state where it was discovered.

The bill not only bans cloning to create a baby but also outlaws so-called therapeutic cloning that researchers say could advance the understanding of genetic diseases. It also would prohibit Wisconsin scientists from using embryos cloned in research labs in other states.

Full story.

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Researchers discover microbes produce miniature electrical wires

Researchers discover microbes produce miniature electrical wires

Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst have discovered a tiny biological structure that is highly electrically conductive. This breakthrough helps describe how microorganisms can clean up groundwater and produce electricity from renewable resources. It may also have applications in the emerging field of nanotechnology, which develops advanced materials and devices in extremely small dimensions.

The findings of microbiologist Derek R. Lovley’s research team are published in the June 23rd issue of Nature, an international science journal. Researchers found that the conductive structures, known as “microbial nanowires,” are produced by a novel microorganism known as Geobacter. The nanowires are incredibly fine, only 3-5 nanometers in width (20,000 times finer than a human hair), but quite durable and more than a thousand times long as they are wide.

“Such long, thin conductive structures are unprecedented in biology,” said Lovley. “This completely changes our concept of how microorganisms can handle electrons, and it also seems likely that microbial nanowires could be useful materials for the development of extremely small electronic devices.”

“The microbial world never stops surprising us,” said Dr. Aristides Patrinos of the U.S. Department of Energy, which funds the Geobacter research. “The remarkable and unexpected discovery of microbial structures comprising microbial nanowires that may enable a microbial community in a contaminated waste site to form mini-power grids could provide new approaches to using microbes to assist in the remediation of DOE waste sites; to support the operation of mini-environmental sensors, and to nano-manufacture in novel biological ways. This discovery also illustrates the continuing relevance of the physical sciences to today’s biological investigations.”


Full story.

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Adult Stem Cells Show Same Ability to Self-Renew as Embryonic

Breakthrough Study at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Finds Adult Stem Cells Show Same Ability to Self-Renew as Embryonic

PITTSBURGH – June 23, 2005 – In a ground-breaking study, scientists at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh have discovered that adult, or post-natal, stem cells have the same ability as embryonic stem cells to multiply, a previously unknown characteristic indicating that post-natal stem cells may play an important therapeutic role.

Adult and post-natal stem cells are often overlooked in favor of embryonic stem cells in the national debate over the therapeutic use of stem cells. Until now, it has been generally believed that embryonic stem cells had a greater capacity to multiply than post-natal stem cells, making them more desirable to research as a potential treatment, according to Johnny Huard, PhD, director of the Growth and Development Laboratory at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

“Scientists have typically believed that adult or post-natal stem cells grow old and die much sooner than embryonic stem cells, but this study demonstrates that is not the case,” said Dr. Huard, senior author of the study. “The entire world is closely following the advances in stem cell research, and everyone is interested in the potential of stem cells to treat everything from diabetes to Parkinson’s disease. But there are also many ethical concerns surrounding the use of embryonic stem cells, concerns that you don’t have with post-natal or adult stem cells. My belief is that this study should erase doubts scientists may have had about the potential effectiveness of post-natal stem cells.”

Researchers from Children’s and the University of Pittsburgh in Dr. Huard’s laboratory were able to expand post-natal stem cells to a population level comparable to that reached by researchers using embryonic stem cells. Previous research has found that embryonic stem cells could undergo more than 200 population doublings before the cells began to die. A population doubling is a method of measuring the age of a population of cells.

Bridget Deasy, PhD, a scientist in Dr. Huard’s laboratory, was first author of the study. Dr. Deasy, a research assistant professor in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, discovered that a unique population of muscle-derived stem cells was able to undergo more than 200 population doublings, as well. These post-natal cells were able to undergo population doublings while maintaining their ability to regenerate muscle in an animal model, a key finding indicating that they could maintain their treatment potential.

Full story.

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UCI study shows how new neurons created from adult stem cells are directed to specific brain regions

Researchers discover stem cell ‘guide’ that may be key for targeting neural stem cell treatments

UCI study shows how new neurons created from adult stem cells are directed to specific brain regions

Irvine, Calif., June 23, 2005

UC Irvine School of Medicine researchers have discovered how new neurons born from endogenous neural stem cells are sent to regions of the brain where they can replace old and dying cells, a finding that suggests how stem cell therapies can be specifically targeted to brain regions affected by neurodegenerative diseases or by stroke.

Associate Professor Qun-Yong Zhou and graduate student Kwan L. Ng in the UCI Department of Pharmacology have identified a protein that guides these new neurons to a particular brain region. The protein, a small peptide called prokineticin 2 (PK2), was found to play a key regulatory role for the proper functional integration of these new neurons in the brain. A few years ago, PK2 was shown by the same research group to be an important regulator of circadian rhythms. The current study appears in the June 24 issue of the journal Science.

“One of the keys to developing promising new therapies for debilitating neurodegenerative diseases lies in our understanding of how new neurons are created and integrated into mature brain tissue,” Zhou said. “This protein is an attractive drug target for either boosting neuron-forming processes or stem cell-based therapies for diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, or for stroke and other brain injuries.”

Full story.

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Microsoft Steps Up Pressure To Adopt Spam-Fighting System

Microsoft Steps Up Pressure To Adopt Spam-Fighting System

June 23, 2005

By KOMO Staff & News Services

NEW YORK - Microsoft Corp. is stepping up the pressure on e-mail senders to adopt its "Sender ID" spam-fighting technology despite problems that could send up to 10 percent of legitimate messages to junk folders.

By the end of the year, Microsoft's Hotmail and MSN services will get more aggressive at rejecting mail sent through companies or service providers that do not register their domain names with the Sender ID system.

Sender ID seeks to cut down on junk e-mail by making it difficult for spammers to forge e-mail headers and addresses, a common technique for hiding their origins.

The system calls for Internet service providers, companies and other domain name holders to submit lists of their mail servers' unique numeric addresses. On the receiving end, software polls a database to verify that a message was actually processed by one of those servers.

Full story.

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GE promotes Waukesha CEO

GE promotes Waukesha CEO
Technologies chief going to England
By JOEL DRESANG
jdresang@journalsentinel.com
Posted: June 23, 2005

A global reshuffling of leadership at General Electric Co. (stock: GE) announced Thursday is sending Joe Hogan from Waukesha to England to succeed his boss.

Hogan, president and chief executive officer of GE Healthcare Technologies, is scheduled to take over as president and CEO of GE Healthcare in July 2006, when William Castell retires from that position.

News of Hogan's promotion came as part of a reorganization of GE, which is consolidating its 11 businesses into six industry clusters and promoting three division chiefs to vice chairmen.

Full story.

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Bionic Man Moves Artificial Arm With Brain

Bionic Man Moves Artificial Arm With Brain
Breakthrough Could Change Lives Of Amputees, Patients With Spinal Cord Injuries

CHICAGO -- Researchers have developed artificial arms that can be moved as it if they were real limbs, simply by thinking about making them move, according to Local 6 News.

"So now when Jess thinks, close hand, the impulse is picked up by a transmitter, and goes to his hand," doctor Todd Kuiken said. "He thinks, closes hand and it does."

Sullivan's hand rotates 360 degrees, according to the report. When Sullivan's brain tells his arm to do something, it's done in seconds and he has feeling in the bionic arm.


Full story.

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New UW lab to study RFID

New UW lab to study RFID

By Lynn Welch
June 23, 2005

Madison has become home to a new laboratory to study radio frequency identification technology, or RFID.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison's E-Business Consortium late last year established its RFID lab to put into practice concepts studied by the group's RFID workgroup. During the first half of this year, the lab has been installing donated equipment and preparing for an official opening Aug. 12, announced Wednesday during the consortium's second annual RFID Conference in Waukesha.

"There was a need for ways to validate the practicality of the benefits of this technology," said lab director and consortium associate director of research and education Alfonso Gutierrez. "There was also a need to service an educational avenue where companies could have a safe place to come without having to be under pressure."

Taking the consortium's charge of providing Wisconsin firms a technology sandbox where corporate issues can be explored in an unbiased academic setting, the RFID lab was created with donated equipment form Rockwell Automation, Autologik, RedPrairie and Dorner Manufacturing.

Full story.

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Researchers grow stem cells from human skin

Researchers grow stem cells from human skin

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Researchers at Wake Forest University School of Medicine have successfully isolated stem cells from human skin, expanded them in the laboratory and coaxed them into becoming fat, muscle and bone cells. The study, one of the first studies to show the ability of a single adult stem cell to become multiple tissue types, is reported today in Stem Cells and Development.

"These cells should provide a valuable resource for tissue repair and for organs as well," said Anthony Atala, M.D., director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine and senior researcher on the project. "Because these cells are taken from a patient's own skin, there would not be problems with organ or tissue rejection."

The research team grew mesenchymal stem cells, a type of stem cell normally found in bone marrow. Using tissue samples from 15 donors who had routine circumcisions, the scientists were able to isolate single stem cells, which they then grew in culture dishes in the laboratory. The scientists used hormones and growth factors to coax the stem cells into becoming fat, muscle and bone cells.

When the differentiated cells were seeded onto three-dimensional molds and implanted in mice, they maintained features consistent with bone, muscle and fat tissue. "Our study shows that stem cells can be obtained from a simple skin biopsy and can be made to become three vital tissues," said Shay Soker, Ph.D., associate professor of surgery at Wake Forest's School of Medicine, which is part of Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. "The bulk of our bodies is made up of fat, muscle and bone."


Full story.

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RIM Says NTP Patent Claims Rejected

RIM Says NTP Patent Claims Rejected
From Reuters

TORONTO — BlackBerry maker Research in Motion said Wednesday that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office had in effect struck down two more patents held by NTP Inc., which had successfully sued RIM for patent infringement.

Research in Motion said the patent office had rejected the claims of seven NTP patents it was reexamining and was "expected to issue an office action on the single remaining patent soon."

The Canadian company, which helped popularize mobile e-mailing with its thumb-operated BlackBerry, on June 9 announced that it had failed to finalize a $450-million settlement with NTP, a closely held U.S.-based patent holding company.

But Friday, the patent office issued decisions questioning the validity of three more of the eight NTP patents it was reexamining.

Analysts have said every rejected patent gives Research in Motion more leverage in settling the matter with NTP, while noting that NTP still has the right to appeal the reexaminations.

Full story.

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UW patents among most lucrative

UW patents among most lucrative
00:00 am 6/23/05
Judy Newman Wisconsin State Journal

Patents for discoveries made at UW-Madison brought in more money than at all but four other universities nationwide, a new study shows.

But UW-Madison ranked 15th in terms of the power of its patent pipeline in an analysis published in the June 20 issue of The Scientist magazine.

The report drew skepticism from the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, believed to be the nation's first university technology transfer office, established in 1925 to commercialize vitamin D research.

"I think that there are so many different ways to measure success," WARF spokesman Andrew Cohn said.

Full story.

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25 years later, 1980 Bayh-Dole act honored as foundation of an industry

The building of biotech
25 years later, 1980 Bayh-Dole act honored as foundation of an industry
Bernadette Tansey, Chronicle Staff Writer

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Philadelphia -- In 1980, Birch Bayh, a veteran Indiana senator, was defeated after serving 18 years in a job he loved. But in the final hour of a lame-duck session held after the election he lost, he managed to squeak a last bill through Congress.

Twenty five years later, Bayh is being hailed as a visionary whose hard- won legislation helped create the biotechnology industry by spawning a whole generation of scientist-entrepreneurs.

The Bayh-Dole act allowed universities and their faculty members to stake patent claims on discoveries they made through research funded by such federal agencies as the National Institutes of Health, instead of leaving ownership of the intellectual property with the government.

That change accelerated the use of academic breakthroughs like gene splicing to develop biotech drugs and other products, giving rise to a three- way partnership of government, universities and startup firms that is "the envy of every nation,'' said Biogen Idec Inc. Chief Executive Officer James Mullen.


Full story.

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Merck ordered to license antibiotic production to rival in Italy

Merck ordered to license antibiotic production to rival in Italy UPDATE
06.21.2005, 10:59 AM

MILAN (AFX) - The Italian antitrust authority said it ordered Merck & Co Inc to license production of an antibiotic to another producer in Italy for export sales.

In February, the authority launched an inquiry into Merck's refusal to grant a licence for Italian production of imipenem cilastatina, the active ingredient in its Tienam product, to a rival for sales in European countries where Merck's patent has already expired, it said.

'Merck is holder in Italy of a monopoly right that gives it the exclusive right to sell Tienam, an antibiotic aimed at treating particularly serious infections, above all in hospitals,' it said.

'The authority has decided that Merck should allow, via award of a licence, the production and stocking in Italy of the main ingredient imipenem cilastatina,' it said.

This would allow other chemical companies with Italian plants to be ready, when the inquiry is closed, to export the antibiotic to European countries where Merck's patent has expired.

These exports would come before the arrival on these markets of generic products in competition with Merck's Tienam, it said, saying that this decision is an application of EU antitrust rules.

In details from the full decision, the authority said its investigation follows the denial of a request for a licence from Italian firm ACS Dobfar SpA, which has 270 mln eur annual sales.

Under Italian law, Dobfar filed a request with the industry ministry in November 2002 to obtain a licence to produce the Merck-patented product.

In 2004, during talks between the companies, Merck told Dobfar it did not want to licence the ingredient because of the need for know-how to produce it, and worries on low quality production.

Full story.

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Boston Scientific infringed J&J patent-US jury

Boston Scientific infringed J&J patent-US jury
By Reuters | June 21, 2005

CHICAGO -- A U.S. District Court jury in Delaware found that Boston Scientific Corp. , maker of the top-selling Taxus drug-coated stent, has infringed on a patent by rival stent maker Johnson & Johnson .

A spokesman for Boston Scientific said the company plans to appeal the decision.

Full story.

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Stem-cell science stirs debate in Muslim world, too

Stem-cell science stirs debate in Muslim world, too

By Christl Dabu | Contributor to The Christian Science Monitor

CAIRO AND TORONTO – Egypt is joining the ranks of nations where scientists conduct stem-cell research. The private Egyptian IVF (in vitro fertilization) Center in Cairo is preparing to start such work in October, using stem cells from umbilical cord blood with the permission of newborns' parents. It won't delve immediately into the controversial realm of embryonic stem cells or therapeutic cloning - a way of deriving stem cells from cloned embryos.
But as technology and cost barriers come down, clinical director Gamal Serour says he'd like to eventually use surplus "early embryos" from consenting couples who no longer need them for in vitro fertilization.

That could spark the same kind of ethical debate in Egypt that's now raging in the United States, and the prospect provides a window onto the Muslim world's divided views about the issue.

Unlike the Vatican in Catholicism, Islam does not have a centralized authority to state a position. Most Muslim countries - including Egypt - don't yet have laws concerning embryonic stem-cell research and cloning, says Thomas Eich, a researcher on Islamic bioethics at Bochum University in Germany.

Full story.

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Jack Kilby, whose 1958 invention led to today's ubiquitous microchip, dies at 81

Jack Kilby, whose 1958 invention led to today's ubiquitous microchip, dies at 81

MATT SLAGLE
AP Technology Writer
DALLAS — Nobel laureate Jack Kilby, whose 1958 invention of the integrated circuit ushered in the modern electronics age and made possible the microprocessor, has died after a battle with cancer.

Kilby died Monday at age 81 at his Dallas home, said Texas Instruments Inc., where he worked for many years.

Before the integrated circuit, electronic devices relied on bulky and fragile circuitry, including glass vacuum tubes. Afterward, electronics could become increasingly more complex, reliable and efficient: powering everything from the iPod to the Internet.

During his first year at Texas Instruments, using borrowed equipment, Kilby built the first integrated circuit into a single piece of semiconducting material half the size of a paper clip. Four years later in 1962, Texas Instruments won its first major integrated circuit contract, for the Minuteman missile.

. . .

He earned degrees in electrical engineering from the universities of Illinois and Wisconsin, and began his career in 1947 with the Centralab Division of Globe Union Inc. in Milwaukee, developing ceramic-based, silk-screened circuits for electronic products.


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Wicab to test balance device

Wicab to test balance device
00:00 am 6/22/05
Judy Newman Wisconsin State Journal

Wicab is on the move.

The Middleton company - which is developing devices to allow wobbly people to regain their balance and blind people to see, with the help of their tongues - is about to move to a new building, begin clinical trials and start selling its first product in Europe this fall.

Meanwhile, pilot studies are getting under way in England on patients with inner ear balance disorders and in France on stroke patients.

Full story.

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Legal battle over patents on cardiac stents goes to jury

Legal battle over patents on cardiac stents goes to jury

By Peg Brickley
Dow Jones Newswires
Posted June 21 2005

WILMINGTON, Del. · The Johnson & Johnson patent infringement suit against Boston Scientific Corp. went to a jury Monday, after closing arguments that focused on the importance of cardiac-stent technology at stake in the case.

Gregory Diskant, attorney for New Brunswick, N.J.-based J&J, said the groundbreaking invention of stenting technology, which keeps treated arteries open, "revolutionized cardiology."

John Desmarais, attorney for Natick, Mass.-based Boston Scientific, told the eight jurors set to begin weighing charges of patent infringement that the Taxus Express stent -- one of the devices on which J&J claims patent infringement -- is "the most important cardiovascular stenting product in the world."

Court papers say J&J is seeking $844 million in lost profits from Boston Scientific on the grounds it has taken market share with stents that infringe the landmark patent obtained by Julio Palmaz, the Texas doctor credited with inventing the idea to leave tiny metal scaffolds in clogged arteries.

Full story.

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STEM CELLS GROWN IN LAB MIRROR NORMAL DEVELOPMENTAL STEPS

STEM CELLS GROWN IN LAB MIRROR NORMAL DEVELOPMENTAL STEPS

Johns Hopkins scientists have developed a way to study the earliest steps of human blood development using human embryonic stem cells grown in a lab dish instead of the embryos themselves.

The process avoids some of the ethical and technical obstacles involved in such research, according to the Johns Hopkins investigators.

The Johns Hopkins researchers' system involves the study of existing embryonic stem cell lines derived from in vitro fertilization methods, and so doesn't require generation of embryos through cloning, a technique recently reported by South Korean scientists.

In their report on the work in the June issue of the journal Blood, the Johns Hopkins team demonstrated a clear similarity between how human embryonic stem cells specialize into blood cells and how blood cells develop in human embryos.

"Our findings provide an unparalleled opportunity to study the basic questions of human development, like 'Where does blood come from?'" says Elias Zambidis, M.D., Ph.D., first author on the paper and an assistant professor of pediatrics and oncology in the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

Full story.

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UW is wary of changes in patent law

UW is wary of changes in patent law
By KATHLEEN GALLAGHER
kgallagher@journalsentinel.com
Posted: June 20, 2005

The head of Wisconsin's biggest technology transfer organization has been in Washington, D.C., the last few weeks trying to temper enthusiasm in Congress for making big changes to U.S. patent law.

Carl E. Gulbrandsen, who testified at the invitation of House and Senate subcommittees, said the push to give courts more discretion about whether to grant injunctions in patent infringement cases could hurt organizations like his, which are trying to move technology out of university laboratories and into commercial use.

Lawmakers "should pay careful heed not to retard the success of university technology transfer and the creation of vibrant new university spin-out companies," Gulbrandsen told a Senate subcommittee last week. Gulbrandsen is managing director of the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, better known as WARF, the technology transfer arm of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Full story.

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Biotech leaders lose ground

Biotech leaders lose ground
00:00 am 6/21/05
Linda A. Johnson AP business writer

PHILADELPHIA - Boston and San Francisco remain the powerhouses of the biotech and pharmaceutical industries, but the Philadelphia and New York regions are closing in, a study shows.

Madison is not among the 11 biotech clusters evaluated by the Milken Institute, a nonprofit, economic think tank in Santa Monica, Calif. But Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council, said that's partly because the Milken study considers only bigger cities.

"I don't know that we're ever going to be listed prominently in their report unless we . . . grow to twice the size that we are today," Still said.

The Milken Institute report, commissioned by Philadelphia area biotech and economic development groups to evaluate the industry in the region and its prospects, was released Monday at BIO 2005, the huge biotechnology conference that has drawn an estimated 18,000 people here this week.

The analysis ranked the Philadelphia region - which includes New Jersey from Princeton south and one county each in Delaware and Maryland - third among the 11 clusters nationwide, behind No. 1 Boston and No. 2 greater San Francisco. The New York region, which includes most of the remaining New Jersey counties, was fourth, followed by the clusters around Raleigh- Durham, N.C., San Diego, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Chicago, Seattle and Dallas.

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UW officials: Keep cloning an option

UW officials: Keep cloning an option
00:00 am 6/21/05
Ron Seely Wisconsin State Journal

Though no scientists are now cloning embryos at UW- Madison, university officials told legislators Monday that it is important to leave the research avenue open in order to study genetic illnesses and pursue potential cures.

Chancellor John Wiley testified before a legislative committee that is considering a proposed ban on all cloning. The ban would prohibit both therapeutic cloning, or cloning to create cells for research and medical treatments, and reproductive cloning, which is cloning to create an embryo that would result in a child.

Proponents of the bill argued that therapeutic cloning is still morally wrong because the cloned embryo would be destroyed to obtain cells for research. Several cloning opponents testified Monday that they consider an early- stage embryo as the equivalent of a human being.

Matt Sande, legislative director of Pro-Life Wisconsin, said any difference between reproductive and therapeutic cloning is "illusory."

"The only difference," he said, "lies in the intended use of the embryo."

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Common virus kills cancer, study finds

Common virus kills cancer, study finds

Jun 21, 4:21 PM (ET)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A common virus that is harmless to people can destroy cancerous cells in the body and might be developed into a new cancer therapy, U.S. researchers said on Tuesday.

The virus, called adeno-associated virus type 2, or AAV-2, infects an estimated 80 percent of the population.

"Our results suggest that adeno-associated virus type 2, which infects the majority of the population but has no known ill effects, kills multiple types of cancer cells yet has no effect on healthy cells," said Craig Meyers, a professor of microbiology and immunology at the Penn State College of Medicine in Pennsylvania.

"We believe that AAV-2 recognizes that the cancer cells are abnormal and destroys them. This suggests that AAV-2 has great potential to be developed as an anti-cancer agent," Meyers said in a statement.

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New group unifies information technology organizations

New group unifies information technology organizations
Companies will have way to share reports
By DORIS HAJEWSKI
dhajewski@journalsentinel.com
Posted: June 20, 2005
State companies that provide or use information technology services have formed their own trade group.

The Information Technology Association of Wisconsin was launched on Monday with 25 founding member organizations. The group was formed after 18 months of research and planning.

"We needed it because there are other (IT) organizations but no unifying organization," said Marc Blazich, vice president and managing director at Greenbrier & Russel, a Milwaukee consulting firm.

Blazich, who was on the steering committee for the launch of the association, said the need for such an organization became clear after information technology was named by Wisconsin's Industry Cluster Initiative as a field that should be developed in the state.

The new group will provide forums for state firms to share best practices and participate in sector-specific executive information exchanges.

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WI GOP bills would ban human cloning

GOP bills would ban human cloning
Critics argue research in state would suffer
By STACY FORSTER and PATRICK MARLEY
sforster@journalsentinel.com
Posted: June 17, 2005

Madison - Concerned that technology is outpacing ethics, Republicans in the Legislature are pushing a ban on human cloning, but critics say the move would block future research into genetic diseases.

The proposal is on a fast track. Identical bills - SB 243 and AB 499 - were introduced late Thursday, and Senate and Assembly committees will jointly hold a public hearing on the measures Monday.

Although Assembly Speaker John Gard (R-Peshtigo) wouldn't commit to a timetable, he said that he hoped the Assembly would vote on the measure by early July. He said it was important to reassure Wisconsin residents that taxpayer funds won't be used for such research.

"It crosses ethical lines that trouble a lot of taxpayers," Gard said.

Federal funds may not be used for cloning, but congressional attempts in recent years to ban the practice have failed.

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Arteries Bio-Engineered From Elderly Cells

Arteries Bio-Engineered From Elderly Cells

media contact : Richard Merritt , (919) 684-4148
merri006@mc.duke.edu

DURHAM, N.C. – Researchers from Duke University's Medical Center and Pratt School of Engineering have demonstrated that they can grow new human blood vessels from cells taken from patients who especially need such assistance – older adults with cardiovascular disease.

The researchers said the results of their latest experiments represent a "proof of principle" for an approach that could be clinically applicable within five to ten years. The first to benefit from such bio-engineered arteries, according to lead researcher Laura Niklason, M.D., Ph.D., could be older patients with cardiovascular disease who need blockages in their arteries "bypassed" but do not have their own natural vessels available.

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Insects develop resistance to engineered crops

Insects develop resistance to engineered crops when single- and double-gene altered plants are in proximity, Cornell researchers say

By Krishna Ramanujan

ITHACA, N.Y. -- Genetically modified crops containing two insecticidal proteins in a single plant efficiently kill insects. But when crops engineered with just one of those toxins grow nearby, insects may more rapidly develop resistance to all the insect-killing plants, report Cornell University researchers.

A soil bacterium called Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), whose genes are inserted into crop plants, such as maize and cotton, creates these toxins that are deadly to insects but harmless to humans.

Bt crops were first commercialized in 1996, and scientists, critics and others have been concerned that widespread use of Bt crops would create conditions for insects to evolve and develop resistance to the toxins.

Until now, it has not been shown if neighboring plants producing a single Bt toxic protein might play a role in insect resistance to transgenic crops expressing two insecticidal proteins.

"Our findings suggest that concurrent use of single- and dual-gene Bt plants can put the dual-gene plants at risk if single-gene plants are deployed in the same area simultaneously," said Anthony Shelton, professor of entomology at Cornell's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and an author of the study, which was posted online June 6 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) and is in the June 14 print edition of the journal. "Single-gene plants really function as a steppingstone in resistance of two-gene plants if the single gene plants contain one of the same Bt proteins as in the two-gene plant."

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An Encounter Between Religion and Biotechnology

An Encounter Between Religion and Biotechnology

JUNE 16, 2005 03:04
by Jeong-Gook Yoon (jkyoon@donga.com)

Professor Hwang Woo-suk of Seoul National University and Archbishop Chung Jin-suk of the Seoul Catholic Parish met on the afternoon of June 15 at the office of bishops in Myeong Dong Catholic Cathedral. The two, who have demonstrated differences in opinion over human embryonic stem cell research, had a broad dialogue on bioethics issues like stem cell research and the use of women’s eggs.

They agreed on the principle, “Scientists should respect human life in any case,” and decided to make efforts to help science and religious circles build mutual understanding. In particular, they reached a consensus on complementary research on embryonic and adult stem cells.

Archbishop Chung said in the meeting, “The Catholic Church considers conception as the beginning of human life and the destruction of an embryo as that of a human,” adding, “We also define Professor Hwang’s embryonic stem cells as human embryos.”

In response, Professor Hwang explained in detail, “The SNU research team harvested skin cells from patients of incurable diseases and harvested stem cells from the skin cells, using nucleus transplants of body cells. The stem cells have never undergone the process of conceiving. Also, they cannot develop into life, as there’s no possibility of implantation.”

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Stem-Cell Finesse Too Grotesque

Stem-Cell Finesse Too Grotesque

By Kristen Philipkoski

02:00 AM Jun. 16, 2005 PT

A Stanford bioethicist has gone back to the drawing board to come up with take two of a controversial method to create cells as powerful as embryonic stem cells without creating or destroying embryos.

Dr. William Hurlbut's first attempt to find a solution to the ethical quandary of embryonic stem-cell research -- which researchers believe could lead to therapies for devastating diseases, but which faces resistance from people who oppose destroying embryos -- received mixed reviews.

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Patent process can be daunting

Patent process can be daunting

By Claire St. John
FAIRFIELD - An idea often comes in a blaze.

Looking at something familiar can suddenly trigger an idea of how to make it better. Approaching a problem from a different angle can light up an inventor's mind with the solution.

But protecting those ideas and solutions through the patent process can be a slow, arduous journey through some pretty thick bureaucracy.

"The patent office is very, very meticulous," said Fairfield inventor Frederick Bissell. "There's a lot of legalese involved."


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Venture capital firm to start 2nd biomed fund

Venture capital firm to start 2nd biomed fund
By KATHLEEN GALLAGHER
kgallagher@journalsentinel.com
Posted: June 15, 2005

Mason Wells will begin trying to raise at least $100 million for a second biomedical venture capital fund, the Milwaukee-based company said Wednesday.

Mason Wells, which already has about $225 million of capital in a buyout fund and a biomedical venture capital fund, expects to have about $500 million in assets under management within the next couple of years, said John Byrnes, the firm's executive managing director.

The Milwaukee venture capital firm's activities are particularly important in a competitive climate where Wisconsin is trying to develop high-technology industries.

Five of the seven companies in the firm's first biomedical fund are headquartered in Wisconsin, said Byrnes, who made his comments at the annual meeting of limited partners in Mason Wells Biomedical Fund 1 at the Milwaukee Athletic Club.

"We're determined to bring capital into this state even if we have to do it alone," Byrnes said in an interview after the meeting.

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Bill to Protect Health Care Workers and Medical Students Who Object to Work with Stem Cells Moves Toward the Governor

Conscience Clause
Updated: 5:56 PM Jun 14, 2005

The so–called Conscience Clause is likely to be one step closer to becoming law, despite the objections of Assembly Democrats.

Democrats called a press conference this morning to reiterate their objections to the bill.

It would protect health care workers and med students if they objected to performing certain procedures because of their religious beliefs.

It would also not allow employers to fire or discipline employees who refused to do certain work, like perform abortions, euthanasia, or work with stem cells or end of life procedures.

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UW group contests patent law changes

UW group contests patent law changes

By Aaron Nathans
June 14, 2005

Congress should leave the nation's patent law alone, says the director of the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation.

Carl Gulbrandsen is in Washington today to testify on the Patent Act of 2005 before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property. Gulbrandsen, who also serves on an advisory committee to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, spoke to the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property last week.

In that testimony, he said the proposed legislation "chips away at the value of university patents for the benefit of certain industries and, thereby, diminishes the good that can come from university technology transfer."

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Smith undertakes reforming U.S. patent, trademark laws

Smith undertakes reforming U.S. patent, trademark laws

WASHINGTON -- Texas Congressman Lamar Smith may have walked away from his dream of being a physicist, but as a politician he believes his passion for science and discovery can still help protect American inventions.

The Republican is working on what he says will be the first comprehensive overhaul of U.S. patent and trademark laws in half a century.

"Everybody recognizes the need for change in patent law. So much has changed in 50 years that we really need to modernize our laws," said Smith, chairman of the House Judiciary subcommittee on courts, the Internet and intellectual property.

It's hugely important for high-technology companies, many of them in Texas, who say changes are needed to stay globally competitive. Smith's proposals could also benefit garage inventors who dream of selling their gadgets on the Home Shopping Network.

He's supported by companies like International Business Machines Corp., but not everyone thinks patent laws need reforming.

A group representing the state's biotechnology industry believes some of Smith's proposed changes could hurt businesses that have invented pregnancy tests, cancer therapies, enzymes that clean up oil spills and a host of pharmaceuticals.

Smith's bill would make it harder for patent owners to win court injunctions to stop patent infringement. Under current law, a patent owner who has sued for patent infringement and prevails in trial can get a permanent injunction to stop production of the competing product.

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Synthetic DNA Barcodes

Researchers make synthetic DNA 'barcodes' to tag pathogens, providing an inexpensive, off-the-shelf monitoring system
By Bill Steele

ITHACA, N.Y. -- A supermarket checkout computer can identify thousands of different items by scanning the tiny barcode printed on the package. New technology developed at Cornell University could make it just as easy to identify genes, pathogens, illegal drugs and other chemicals of interest by tagging them with color-coded probes made out of synthetic tree-shaped DNA.

A research group headed by Dan Luo, Cornell assistant professor of biological engineering, has created "nanobarcodes" that fluoresce under ultraviolet light in a combination of colors that can be read by a computer scanner or observed with a fluorescent light microscope.

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Division grows in stem cell debate


Issue pulls states in opposite directions
By CRAIG GILBERT
cgilbert@journalsentinel.com
Posted: June 11, 2005
Washington - One senator last week called it a "great national debate."

The battle over embryonic stem cell research may not rank with Iraq or the economy as a burning public concern. But it is fast becoming a fixture of the budget and culture wars in Washington, D.C., and state capitals across the country. Soon it may produce the first veto of the Bush presidency. It's likely to play a role in the 2006 congressional campaigns, and it provides a clear fault line in Wisconsin's hotly contested race for governor next year.

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Wisconsin researchers lobby Senate on stem cell research

Wisconsin researchers lobby Senate on stem cell research

By Jennifer Brooks
Gannett News Service

WASHINGTON — The science of stem cell research got its start at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Now, university researchers are appealing to the Senate to lift federal restrictions they say are hampering their effort to develop stem cell therapies for deadly diseases and crippling injuries.

“(Embryonic stem cells) may be useful in treating some devastating diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease, multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injury,” said UW-Madison researcher Su-Chun Zhang during testimony Wednesday before the Senate Special Committee on Aging.

Zhang joined some of the nation’s top scientists and medical researchers — and one former NBA player — on Capitol Hill to plead with the Senate to loosen federal limits on embryonic stem cell research.

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Engineer who worked on Apollo space program dies

Engineer who worked on Apollo space program dies

The Associated Press
BARNSTABLE, Mass. -- Edward Schwarm, an electrical engineer whose work on the Apollo space program helped NASA land the first man on the moon, died of skin cancer last month at his home on Cape Cod. He was 82.

Schwarm was working at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology when the school teamed up with NASA on the Apollo missions.

He developed some of the technology used in the Apollo 11 mission, the first lunar landing, and was part of the team that helped the Apollo 13 astronauts return safely to Earth.

Schwarm also was an accomplished inventor who owned 11 patents for innovations in space aviation and electronic power systems.

"He was an inventor, and he always looked at problems from a practical view," said his daughter, Shutesbury resident Claudia Gere.

During World War II, the Milwaukee native left the University of Wisconsin at Madison to join the Army.

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Stem Cell Advances May Make Moral Issue Moot

Stem Cell Advances May Make Moral Issue Moot

By Rick Weiss
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, June 6, 2005; Page A07

If only human embryonic stem cells could sprout anew from something other than a human embryo. Researchers could harvest them and perhaps harness their great biomedical potential without destroying what some consider to be a budding human life.

But like a low-calorie banana split or the proverbial free lunch, there is no such thing as an embryo-free embryonic stem cell.

Or is there?

In recent months, a number of researchers have begun to assemble intriguing evidence that it is possible to generate embryonic stem cells without having to create or destroy new human embryos.

The research is still young and largely unpublished, and in some cases it is limited to animal cells. Scientists doing the work also emphasize their desire to have continued access to human embryos for now. It is largely by analyzing how nature makes stem cells, deep inside days-old embryos, that these researchers are learning how to make the cells themselves.

Yet the gathering consensus among biologists is that embryonic stem cells are made, not born -- and that embryos are not an essential ingredient. That means that today's heated debates over embryo rights could fade in the aftermath of technical advances allowing scientists to convert ordinary cells into embryonic stem cells.

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Activists want to copyright intangible cultural treasures, like the hula dance

Activists want to copyright intangible cultural treasures, like the hula dance
06/06/2005

By YASUKAZU AKADA, The Asahi Shimbun

What's the harm in belting out a few bars of traditional tunes like "El Condor Pasa" or staging an impromptu Hawaiian hula dance? Plenty, say copyright activists.They take issue with the notion that such things are in the public domain for anyone to sing or dance.

Now, these activists from developing countries say these and other intangible cultural treasures should be covered by copyright laws--not just for the original anonymous authors, but also for the cultures associated with the works.

They believe the homelands of such cultural treasures should decide who can and cannot profit from them. They want to hold the rights for reproductions or adaptations.

But industrialized nations are bitterly opposed on grounds that traditional works don't fit the existing copyright mold.

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Majority of states pressing for taxing all Internet sales

Majority of states pressing for taxing all Internet sales
written by: Paola Farer Web Producer
reported by: Mark Koebrich 9NEWS Consumer Reporter

Created: 6/3/2005 4:52 PM MDT - Updated: 6/4/2005 4:46 PM MDT

DENVER - 9News has learned that 43 states have joined together in a coalition to collect sales tax on all Internet purchases.

You already pay sales tax when you go online to buy from an established business like Eddie Bauer or Wal-Mart. But a lot of small Internet businesses and individual transactions float under the radar.

The coalition is seeking expertise from Colorado's high tech industry to get the tax collection done electronically.

"The Internet Tax Freedom Act says that states cannot treat sales on the Internet differently than they treat any other kind of sale--and this system that we've created does exactly that," says Scott Peterson with the Conforming States Committee, which is spearheading the effort.

"It treats every sale exactly the same regardless if it's over the counter, over the catalogue, over the phone or over the Internet," he says.

The states say they've been losing as much as $16 billion annually to the Internet. They say that new software will make collecting the money almost automatic and that they can have a system in place by Oct. 1.

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Imago builds tools for growing industry of nanotechnology

Big leaps in tiny technology
Imago builds tools for growing industry of nanotechnology
By KATHLEEN GALLAGHER
kgallagher@journalsentinel.com
Posted: June 3, 2005

Imago Scientific Instruments Corp., a Madison company that aims to be a leading toolmaker for the nanotechnology age, has done a successful technology transfer with a twist.

Not only did Imago get two licenses for its technology out of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, it got the professor who did the research.

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