Previous month:
September 2006
Next month:
November 2006

3-D Ultrasound Scanner Could Guide Robotic Surgeries

3-D Ultrasound Scanner Could Guide Robotic Surgeries

Developed by Pratt School engineers, the new scanner could find application in various medical settings, including aboard space stations

Monday, October 30, 2006

Durham, NC -- Duke University engineers have shown that a three-dimensional ultrasound scanner they developed can successfully guide a surgical robot.

The scanner could find application in various medical settings, according to the researchers. They said the scanner ultimately might enable surgeries to be performed without surgeons, a capability that could prove valuable in space stations or other remote locations.

"It's the first time, to our knowledge, that anyone has used the information in a 3-D ultrasound scan to actually guide a robot," said Stephen Smith, professor of biomedical engineering at Duke's Pratt School of Engineering.

Smith and Eric Pua, a Pratt graduate student who participated in the research, reported the findings in the cover article of the November 2006 issue of the journal IEEE Transactions on Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics and Frequency Control. A copy of the article is available here.

The work was supported by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation.

In their demonstration, the researchers used 3-D ultrasound images to pinpoint in real time the exact location of targets in a simulated surgical procedure. That spatial information then guided a robotically controlled surgical instrument right to its mark.

Full story.

Please visit our sponsor Gehrke & Associates, SC to learn more about how to enhance and defend your intellectual property.  Thank you.

British scientists grow human liver in a laboratory

British scientists grow human liver in a laboratory
By FIONA MacRAE, Science Reporter

Last updated at 12:32pm on 31st October 2006

British scientists have grown the world's first artificial liver from stem cells in a breakthrough that will one day provide entire organs for transplant.

The technique that created the 'mini-liver', currently the size of a one pence piece, will be developed to create a full-size functioning liver.

Described as a 'Eureka moment' by the Newcastle University researchers, the tissue was created from blood taken from babies' umbilical cords just a few minutes after birth.

Full story.

Please visit our sponsor Gehrke & Associates, SC to learn more about how to enhance and defend your intellectual property.  Thank you.

UWM brain research supports drug development from jellyfish protein

UWM brain research supports drug development from jellyfish protein
Testing of aequorin yields promising results

With the research support from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, a Wisconsin biotech company has found that a compound from a protein found in jellyfish is neuro-protective and may be effective in treating neurodegenerative diseases.

Testing of aequorin has yielded promising results, said Mark Y. Underwood of Quincy Bioscience located in Madison. Researcher James Moyer, Jr., an assistant professor at UW-Milwaukee, subjected brain cells to the "lab" equivalent of a stroke, and more than half treated with aequorin survived without residual toxicity.

Continue reading "UWM brain research supports drug development from jellyfish protein" »

Please visit our sponsor Gehrke & Associates, SC to learn more about how to enhance and defend your intellectual property.  Thank you.

UWM research helps industry make stronger, lighter and cheaper alloys

UWM research helps industry make stronger, lighter and cheaper alloys

High performance metals could revive foundries
Car engines that consume less energy and can keep running on low oil, lead-free plumbing fixtures, and tanks that are light enough to be airlifted, but are just as rugged as the much heavier varieties.

They sound futuristic, but these products are already realities thanks to materials that stretch the limits of performance. Called cast metal matrix composites (MMCs), they are cheaper, lighter and stronger than their original alloys. In fact, an aluminum-based MMC developed at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) can replace iron-based alloys.

"These composites have many applications in the transportation, small engines, aerospace and computer industries," says Pradeep Rohatgi, a Wisconsin Distinguished Professor of Engineering who pioneered cost-effective methods of manufacturing these composites.

Continue reading "UWM research helps industry make stronger, lighter and cheaper alloys" »

Please visit our sponsor Gehrke & Associates, SC to learn more about how to enhance and defend your intellectual property.  Thank you.

Catholics must vote, U.S. bishops agree in pre-election messages

Catholics must vote, U.S. bishops agree in pre-election messages
By Nancy Frazier O'Brien
10/27/2006
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) – As the midterm elections near, some Catholic bishops are not finding any pressing moral issues to comment on in their dioceses, while others are jumping into the fray – especially about the moral content of referendum issues facing voters in 37 states.

. . .

Archbishop Raymond L. Burke of St. Louis said Missouri is facing "an unimaginably severe moral crisis" as it prepares to vote on an initiative that could make embryonic stem-cell research and human cloning a constitutional right.

"The passage of Amendment 2 would be a moral disaster for our state" and the nation, Archbishop Burke wrote in a column for his archdiocesan newspaper, the St. Louis Review. "If Amendment 2 succeeds in the state of Missouri, which has the reputation of being pro-life, then the proponents of human cloning and the destruction of embryonic human life will surely be emboldened to undertake the same deadly initiative in other states of our union."


Full story.

Please visit our sponsor Gehrke & Associates, SC to learn more about how to enhance and defend your intellectual property.  Thank you.

MIT's pint-sized engine promises high efficiency, low cost

MIT's pint-sized engine promises high efficiency, low cost
Ethanol empowers the little engine that could

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- MIT researchers are developing a half-sized gasoline engine that performs like its full-sized cousin but offers fuel efficiency approaching that of today's hybrid engine system--at a far lower cost. The key? Carefully controlled injection of ethanol, an increasingly common biofuel, directly into the engine's cylinders when there's a hill to be climbed or a car to be passed.

These small engines could be on the market within five years, and consumers should find them appealing: By spending about an extra $1,000 and adding a couple of gallons of ethanol every few months, they will have an engine that can go as much as 30 percent farther on a gallon of fuel than an ordinary engine. Moreover, the little engine provides high performance without the use of high-octane gasoline.

Given the short fuel-savings payback time--three to four years at present U.S. gasoline prices--the researchers believe that their "ethanol-boosted" turbo engine has real potential for widespread adoption. The impact on U.S. oil consumption could be substantial. For example, if all of today's cars had the new engine, current U.S. gasoline consumption of 140 billion gallons per year would drop by more than 30 billion gallons.

"There's a tremendous need to find low-cost, practical ways to make engines more efficient and clean and to find cost-effective ways to use more biofuels in place of oil," said Daniel R. Cohn, senior research scientist in the Laboratory for Energy and the Environment and the Plasma Science and Fusion Center (PSFC).

Full story.

Please visit our sponsor Gehrke & Associates, SC to learn more about how to enhance and defend your intellectual property.  Thank you.

STEM CELLS FROM FAT BEING STUDIED AS OPTION FOR BREAST RECONSTRUCTION

STEM CELLS FROM FAT BEING STUDIED AS OPTION FOR BREAST RECONSTRUCTION

NIH funds University of Pittsburgh studies to explore unique stem cell and tissue engineering approach

PITTSBURGH, October 26, 2006 — Breast cancer survivors might one day avoid the prospect of invasive breast reconstruction surgery, opting instead for an approach that would involve using stem cells derived from their own fat, suggest University of Pittsburgh researchers who are studying the potential these cells may have for regenerating new breast tissue.

In animal models, the researchers hope to prove that an injection of fat-derived stem cells that are seeded onto microscopic scaffold structures will enable the production of a durable, replacement soft tissue. The team, led by J. Peter Rubin, M.D., assistant professor of plastic and reconstructive surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, recently received a three-year grant from the National Cancer Institute to further explore this unique approach.

“The surgical options for breast reconstruction involve either the use of implants or a procedure whereby fat tissue taken from another part of the body is shaped into the form of a breast. Neither is ideal nor without risk. The use of adipose- or fat-derived stem cells may represent a better solution for soft tissue reconstruction in breast cancer patients,” said Dr. Rubin, who also is co-director of the Aesthetic Surgery Center at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

The use of stem cells to treat disease or regenerate tissue is believed to hold promise because of their potential to develop into different specialized cell types. Indeed, when exposed to specific conditions in the laboratory, fat-derived stem cells have been shown to differentiate into cells characteristic of those from tissues such as fat, bone, cartilage, nerve, muscle and blood vessels.


Full story.

Please visit our sponsor Gehrke & Associates, SC to learn more about how to enhance and defend your intellectual property.  Thank you.

The first 3 Teslas magnetic resonance imager for research

The first 3 Teslas magnetic resonance imager for research

The University Hospital at the University of Navarra and the Applied Medicine Research Centre (CIMA) of the University has recently acquired a 3 Teslas magnetic resonance imager for joint use, the first for research applications in Spain. The 3 Teslas is the magnetic resonance imaging unit with the highest strength currently permitted by international medical bodies for the morphological study of the human body.

Enhanced precision

The University Hospital at the University of Navarra currently has two other magnetic resonance units. The first of these has a strength of 0.2 Teslas (unit of magnetic field) with a C-shape or “open” structure. Apart from this, the hospital also has a 1.5 Teslas unit of a cylindrical shape.

The fundamental difference between the resonance units is marked by the intensity of the main magnetic field. There currently exist imaging units that have strengths from 0.2 Teslas and others that are currently in an experimental phase and reach a strength of 7 Teslas.

The most notable advantage of the 3 Teslas unit is its high precision given that it enables the recording of an enhanced image quality in less exploration time. Moreover, the imaging unit will be used to continue lines of research in close collaboration with CIMA, the most important of which involve the study of Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s.

Full story.

Please visit our sponsor Gehrke & Associates, SC to learn more about how to enhance and defend your intellectual property.  Thank you.

Scientists discover exotic relatives of protons and neutrons

Scientists of the CDF collaboration at the Department of Energy's Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory announced today (October 23, 2006) the discovery of two rare types of particles, exotic relatives of the much more common proton and neutron.

"These particles, named Sigma-sub-b [Σb], are like rare jewels that we mined out of our data," said Jacobo Konigsberg, University of Florida, a spokesperson for the CDF collaboration. "Piece by piece, we are developing a better picture of how matter is built out of quarks. We learn more about the subatomic forces that hold quarks together and tear them apart. Our discovery helps complete the 'periodic table of baryons.'"

Baryons (derived from the Greek word "barys", meaning "heavy") are particles that contain three quarks, the most fundamental building blocks of matter. The CDF collaboration discovered two types of Sigma-sub-b particles, each one about six times heavier than a proton.

Full story.

Please visit our sponsor Gehrke & Associates, SC to learn more about how to enhance and defend your intellectual property.  Thank you.

State facilities part of effort to get results of research to patients faster

State facilities part of effort to get results of research to patients faster
By KAWANZA NEWSON
knewson@journalsentinel.com
Posted: Oct. 22, 2006

When Marshfield Clinic officials broke ground on a $40 million medical research institute last month, they positioned themselves as a powerful partner in a national movement to increase the speed at which research moves from the laboratory to the patient.

The 112,300-square-foot Laird Center for Medical Research, to be completed in early 2008, will house 200 physicians and scientific investigators looking at everything from genetics and personalized medicine to emerging infectious disease and biomedical informatics.

Marshfield researchers also will work closely with scientists and physicians at the Medical College of Wisconsin and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

"This will be a very substantial change both administratively and in terms of how we train clinical investigators and conduct clinical research," said Theodore A. Kotchen, a professor of medicine and epidemiology and associate dean of clinical research at the Medical College.

Increasingly, institutions are gearing up to conduct more efficient clinical and translational research studies - scientific jargon for moving research discoveries from "the bench" of basic research to the patient's "bedside" for clinical treatment. Clinical and translational research refers to all the steps needed to do this safely and quickly.

Full story.

Please visit our sponsor Gehrke & Associates, SC to learn more about how to enhance and defend your intellectual property.  Thank you.

WiCell director going private

WiCell director going private
KAREN RIVEDAL krivedal@madison.com

UW-Madison's stem-cell enterprises have lost another leading figure to the lucrative, for-profit biotech industry, as Beth Donley resigned this week as executive director of the WiCell Research Institute.

Donley, who was named WiCell's leader just six weeks ago, left Monday to pursue job opportunities in the private sector, said Carl Gulbrandsen, managing director of the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, said Thursday.

"To be very honest, this is not a happy moment for me," Gulbrandsen said. "But people know in their gut when they have to go, and you certainly don't want to have people who resent where they are."

Full story.

Please visit our sponsor Gehrke & Associates, SC to learn more about how to enhance and defend your intellectual property.  Thank you.

First Demonstration of a Working Invisibility Cloak

The cloak, made with advanced 'metamaterials,' deflects microwave beams and may find a variety of wireless communications or radar applications

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Durham, NC -- A team led by scientists at Duke University's Pratt School of Engineering has demonstrated the first working "invisibility cloak." The cloak deflects microwave beams so they flow around a "hidden" object inside with little distortion, making it appear almost as if nothing were there at all.

Cloaks that render objects essentially invisible to microwaves could have a variety of wireless communications or radar applications, according to the researchers.

The team reported its findings on Thursday, Oct. 19, in Science Express, the advance online publication of the journal Science. The research was funded by the Intelligence Community Postdoctoral Fellowship
The researchers manufactured the cloak using "metamaterials" precisely arranged in a series of concentric circles that confer specific electromagnetic properties. Metamaterials are artificial composites that can be made to interact with electromagnetic waves in ways that natural materials cannot reproduce.

The cloak represents "one of the most elaborate metamaterial structures yet designed and produced," the scientists said. It also represents the most comprehensive approach to invisibility yet realized, with the potential to hide objects of any size or material property, they added.


Full story.

Please visit our sponsor Gehrke & Associates, SC to learn more about how to enhance and defend your intellectual property.  Thank you.

Splashing out against tumours

Splashing out against tumours
18 October 2006

Similarities between tumour growth and the physics of splashing water drops have been used by researchers in the US and Italy to predict how cancer invades healthy tissue. This has led them to propose clinical management strategies for the treatment of invasive tumours.

Some water drops splash into multiple jets after striking a solid surface while others remain intact – and physicists have been successful at predicting this behaviour using surprisingly simple equations. These equations have been adapted by Thomas Deisboeck of the Harvard-MIT Center for Biomedical Imaging in the US and colleagues at Italy’s University of Turin, who observed that this splash/no splash behaviour is exhibited by some cancers. Tumours either send out multiple (and often deadly) invasive tentacles into surrounding healthy tissue, or they do not.

The researchers defined a tumour “invasion parameter” by modifying the fluid-dynamical equations that predict which drops will splash and how many jets will result. The invasion parameter is a function of three variables: the confining pressure exerted on the tumour by surrounding tissue (analogous to the impact pressure in a drop); the radius of the tumour; and the surface tension of the tumour. Greater pressure and larger radii favour invasive tentacles, whereas greater surface tension inhibits invasion.

In order to minimize this invasion parameter, Deisboeck and colleagues have made two recommendations to oncologists treating potentially invasive tumours. The first is to boost tumour surface tension by using drugs to increase the adhesion of cancer cells to the surface of the tumour. The second is to reduce the pressure exerted on the tumour by surrounding tissue, again through the use of drugs.


Full story.

Please visit our sponsor Gehrke & Associates, SC to learn more about how to enhance and defend your intellectual property.  Thank you.

NIST physicists boost 'entanglement' of atom pairs

Nondestructive method may be useful in quantum computing and communications
Entanglement
Picture by Bill Pietsch, Astronaut 3 Media Group Inc.

BOULDER, Colo.--Physicists at the Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have taken a significant step toward transforming entanglement--an atomic-scale phenomenon described by Albert Einstein as "spooky action at a distance"--into a practical tool. They demonstrated a method for refining entangled atom pairs (a process called purification) so they can be more useful in quantum computers and communications systems, emerging technologies that exploit the unusual rules of quantum physics for pioneering applications such as "unbreakable" data encryption.

The NIST work, reported in the Oct. 19, 2006, issue of Nature,* marks the first time atoms have been both entangled and subsequently purified; previously, this process had been carried out only with entangled photons (particles of light). The NIST demonstration also is the first time that scientists have been able to purify particles nondestructively. Direct measurement would destroy the delicate entangled state of atom pairs; the new experiment gets around this problem by entangling two pairs of atoms and measuring only one pair.

Entanglement is a curious property of quantum physics that links the condition and behavior of two or more particles, such as atoms or photons. Entanglement can occur spontaneously when two atoms interact. For the initial interaction, the atoms have to be in close proximity, but the entanglement may persist even if they are physically moved apart. The quality of the entanglement can be degraded by many environmental factors, such as fluctuating magnetic fields, so the process and the transport of entangled particles need to be tightly controlled in technological applications. The purification process implemented at NIST can clean up or remove any distortions or "noise" regardless of the source by processing two or more noisy entangled pairs to obtain one entangled pair of higher purity.

"We demonstrated entanglement purification with relatively high success rates in an ion trap system that could be scaled up to build quantum computers of a practical size," says Dietrich Leibfried, an author of the paper and designer of the experiment. "It's a more complicated procedure than anything we've demonstrated before, and it will be useful in many contexts once we improve our purification procedures."

The NIST team used ultraviolet lasers to entangle two pairs of beryllium ions (electrically charged atoms) in an electromagnetic trap. A similar process was used to cross-entangle the entangled pairs--that is, to entangle each member of the first pair with its counterpart in the second pair. Then the first pair of ions was measured, and the results were used as an indication of whether the second pair (unmeasured, and thus with its quantum state intact) was entangled with higher purity. Additional tests were performed to verify that the quality of the entanglement had indeed improved.

Continue reading "NIST physicists boost 'entanglement' of atom pairs" »

Please visit our sponsor Gehrke & Associates, SC to learn more about how to enhance and defend your intellectual property.  Thank you.

Laser controls chemical reaction rates

Physicists in Canada are the first to use laser light as a catalyst to control chemical reactions. The technique could prove to be an important tool for manipulating the properties of matter at the molecular level.

While chemists routinely use lasers to control reactions, some light is absorbed by the target molecules – a process that has permanent and unwanted effects on the chemistry. No light is absorbed in this new technique called dynamic Stark control (DSC), which makes it similar to a traditional chemical catalyst.

The method was developed by Albert Stolow and colleagues at Ottawa’s Steacie Institute for Molecular Sciences and Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario (Science 314 278). The group used the electric field associated with an ultrafast laser pulse to modify the molecular energy levels that dictated how a chemical reaction proceeded.


Full story.

Please visit our sponsor Gehrke & Associates, SC to learn more about how to enhance and defend your intellectual property.  Thank you.

Chippewa Valley institutions join forces on nanotechnology

Thinking small for a big payoff
Chippewa Valley institutions join forces on nanotechnology
By RICK BARRETT
rbarrett@journalsentinel.com
Posted: Oct. 10, 2006

Not too long from now, OEM Fabricators Inc. could be drilling holes in the head of a pin.

The Woodville metal fabricating company has agreed to become the first tenant in a business incubator at Chippewa Valley Technical College, in Eau Claire, focusing on nanotechnology and micro-fabrication.

In its 20 years in business, OEM normally has done fabricating and machining for big equipment such as mining and construction machines.

"We have learned that thinking very small may be even bigger than thinking big," said Mark Tyler, president of the company, which had about $25 million in sales last year.

Work on a nanoscale takes place at the molecular level. Sometimes it involves manipulating materials at microscopic levels to give them novel properties. A nanometer is one billionth of a meter, or 1/100,000 the thickness of a human hair.

The business incubator, named the NanoRite Center, is under construction and is scheduled to open in the fall of 2007. The 37,000-square-foot facility will augment nanotechnology research and training already under way at Chippewa Valley and University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and UW-Stout campuses.


Full story.

Please visit our sponsor Gehrke & Associates, SC to learn more about how to enhance and defend your intellectual property.  Thank you.

MIT material stops bleeding in seconds

MIT material stops bleeding in seconds
Work could significantly impact medicine

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--MIT and Hong Kong University researchers have shown that some simple biodegradable liquids can stop bleeding in wounded rodents within seconds, a development that could significantly impact medicine.

When the liquid, composed of protein fragments called peptides, is applied to open wounds, the peptides self-assemble into a nanoscale protective barrier gel that seals the wound and halts bleeding. Once the injury heals, the nontoxic gel is broken down into molecules that cells can use as building blocks for tissue repair.

"We have found a way to stop bleeding, in less than 15 seconds, that could revolutionize bleeding control," said Rutledge Ellis-Behnke, research scientist in the MIT Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences.

This study will appear in the online edition of the journal Nanomedicine on Oct. 10 at http://www.nanomedjournal.com/inpress. It marks the first time that nanotechnology has been used to achieve complete hemostasis, the process of halting bleeding from a damaged blood vessel.

Continue reading "MIT material stops bleeding in seconds" »

Please visit our sponsor Gehrke & Associates, SC to learn more about how to enhance and defend your intellectual property.  Thank you.

Acid test production may allow NimbleGen to go public in 2007

Biotech company makes patent deal
Acid test production may allow NimbleGen to go public in 2007
By KATHLEEN GALLAGHER
kgallagher@journalsentinel.com
Posted: Oct. 6, 2006

A licensing deal struck by NimbleGen Systems Inc. may be a springboard for the Madison biotech company to go public in early 2007, the firm's chief executive said Friday.

NimbleGen, a maker of chips that identify how genes work, forged the agreement with Santa Clara, Calif.-based Affymetrix Inc. It holds promise to dramatically expand the market for NimbleGen's products and help speed the progress of genetic research overall, said Stanley D. Rose, NimbleGen's president and chief executive officer.

"If you look at comparable companies and values and prospects like ours, you could make a very good argument we'd be a good candidate for a very high-value IPO early in 2007," Rose said.

The agreement gives NimbleGen a license for several Affymetrix patents that cover the manufacture, use and sale of nucleic acid tests used for genetic research.

"This will give us an opportunity to rapidly accelerate our growth because it allows us to attack world markets with new products in new ways," said Bob Palay, NimbleGen's chairman and managing member of Tactics II Investments of Northbrook, Ill., one of the firm's investors.

NimbleGen's chips use 780,000 tiny mirrors, like those in a PowerPoint projector or a high-definition TV, to focus light in a way that allows scientists to see things like which part of a DNA strand is binding to an RNA strand. That's like giving a researcher 780,000 test tubes for their experiment, and the ability to quickly see things like which genes are activated, or which parts of a cancer cell's DNA are being amplified or deleted.

Full story.

Please visit our sponsor Gehrke & Associates, SC to learn more about how to enhance and defend your intellectual property.  Thank you.

Discovery of breast cancer stem cells in bone marrow may mean greater risk for cancer patients than previously thought.

Researchers Find Stem Cells in Marrow
10/05/06
Discovery of breast cancer stem cells in bone marrow may mean greater risk for cancer patients than previously thought.
By Monika Guttman

The study was conducted by Richard J. Cote, professor of pathology and urology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.

Almost all tumor cells found in the bone marrow of early stage breast cancer patients appear to be breast cancer stem cells, suggesting the risk of disease spread for all breast cancer patients may be greater than previously thought, according to a study by Richard J. Cote, professor of pathology and urology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.

“Most Early Disseminated Cancer Cells Detected in Bone Marrow of Breast Cancer Patients Have a Putative Breast Cancer Stem Cell Phenotype” appears in this week’s issue of Clinical Cancer Research, providing the first evidence of the putative stem/progenitor cells within tumor cells collected from the bone marrow.

Full story.

Please visit our sponsor Gehrke & Associates, SC to learn more about how to enhance and defend your intellectual property.  Thank you.

Natural anti-viral enzyme helps keep cancer cells alive

DALLAS — Oct. 6, 2006 — A molecule that cells normally use to fight viruses is also involved in keeping cancer cells alive, researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have discovered.

The anti-viral molecule, called TBK-1, was found to be essential for cancer cells to live, so blocking it might point to a treatment for fighting cancer, the researchers report in today's issue of Cell.

"We got the surprise that this mechanism is involved in cancer cell survival, even though it's normally involved in immune response," said Dr. Michael White, associate professor of cell biology. "We found something a little bit different — an Achilles' heel of cancer cells that's apparently broadly conserved among many types of solid tumors."

Full story.

Please visit our sponsor Gehrke & Associates, SC to learn more about how to enhance and defend your intellectual property.  Thank you.

Researchers Identify a Key Regulator for Skin Stem Cells

By turning on a single gene, researchers can prevent skin stem cells from maturing into the three types of adult skin cells — epidermal, sebaceous and hair cells. They say this finding could have important implications for scientists trying to grow stem cells in the lab, for both research and potential therapies.

As researchers seek ways to manipulate stem cells, which have the ability to differentiate into multiple types of tissues, one challenge they face is maintaining the stem cells in their immature state. The newly identified repressor switch could provide part of the answer.

Full story.

Please visit our sponsor Gehrke & Associates, SC to learn more about how to enhance and defend your intellectual property.  Thank you.

UW finds potential treatment to stop flu

UW finds potential treatment to stop flu
RON SEELY
608-252-6131
rseely@madison.com

With flu season looming, there is at least some good news from UW-Madison about a potential new treatment - a tiny but powerful protein that blocks a broad number of flu viruses from attaching to and entering host cells.

The protein, called a peptide, disrupted the spread of flu when tested on cells in culture and in mice, according to Stacey Schultz-Cherry, a UW- Madison professor of medical microbiology and immunology.

Researchers were surprised when the protein kept even the deadly avian flu virus in check.

Though years from possible use in humans, the science offers hope of an eventual supplement to vaccines, which can take up to a year to develop.

As opposed to a vaccine, which uses flu viral cells to trigger the body's disease-fighting immune system, an antiviral drug made from the peptide might actually keep the flu virus from getting into human cells to begin with.

Full story.

Please visit our sponsor Gehrke & Associates, SC to learn more about how to enhance and defend your intellectual property.  Thank you.

Stem cell debate goes to voters

Stem cell debate goes to voters
By Christine Vestal, Stateline.org Staff Writer

For the first time since the stem cell debate began, voters are being asked to weigh job creation and potential life-saving cures against moral concerns over the destruction of human embryos in an impassioned battle over a Missouri ballot measure supporting the science.

While the Show Me state is the only one with the question on the Nov. 7 ballot, the controversy over embryonic stem cell research is playing prominently in the Wisconsin governor’s race and cropping up in state races scattered across the country. A few Republican gubernatorial candidates are breaking ranks with the Bush administration by running on their support for the controversial research.

The outcome of the initiative in Missouri – where embryonic stem cell research also has gotten caught up in a tight U.S. Senate race between State Auditor Claire McCaskill (D) and incumbent Sen. Jim Talent (R) – could influence future federal and state efforts to either block or support the science, political analysts say.

McCaskill has made support for embryonic stem cell research a keystone of her campaign, while Talent steadfastly opposes the science on moral grounds.

“If the initiative wins in a battleground state like Missouri, where both Republicans and Democrats have been elected statewide, it is likely to embolden other states that have an economic interest in supporting the science,” said Michael Werner of the Biotechnology Industry Organization, an advocacy group for the life sciences.

Scientists are eager to experiment with stem cells from human embryos because the cells have the capacity to develop into any organ tissue in the body. Non-controversial adult stem cell research also is being pursued, but scientists say adult cells do not hold the same potential for cures and therapies.

While Missouri’s proposed constitutional amendment would not commit state funds to the science, it would ensure its legality, unleashing private funding and removing a cloud over the research created by repeated state legislative attempts to criminalize it.

Last year, Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt (R), an anti-abortion conservative, vetoed a measure pushed by conservative legislators that would have made involvement in the science a felony. Blunt derailed the bill because he feared it would cause scientists and the research money backing them to leave the state.

In a close state race, Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle (D) is using his support of embryonic stem cell research to differentiate himself from conservative challenger U.S. Rep. Mark Green (R), who opposes using human embryos for the research.


Full story.

Please visit our sponsor Gehrke & Associates, SC to learn more about how to enhance and defend your intellectual property.  Thank you.

With patents, Wisconsin court gaining reputation as a "rocket docket"

With patents, Wisconsin court gaining reputation as a "rocket docket"
Innogenetics victory over Abbott more than David vs. Goliath story
By Joe Vanden Plas • 10/02/06

Madison, Wis. - Patent law is esoteric territory, but a Madison court is taking some of the mystery out of it, and in the process it might be giving smaller drug companies a chance to defend their intellectual property against pharmaceutical Goliaths.

The most recent example occurred last month. After a relatively speedy trial that began in September of 2005, a jury in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin first confirmed the validity of a patent held by Belgian-based biopharmaceutical company Innogenetics, and then unanimously found Abbott Laboratories willfully infringed on the patent.

The patent covers a method of genotyping the Hepatitis C Virus, and to date Abbott has been directed to pay Innogenetics $7 million in infringement damages. Depending on a possible appeal and the judge's eventual ruling, that sum could triple because of the jury's determination that the violation was willful.

Compared to Abbott Labs, which reported more than $22 billion in sales and $3.4 billion in income last year, Innogenetics is like David, but it hardly is a Lilliputian. The company reported $48.6 million in revenue (European currency) in 2005.

Nevertheless, CEO Frank Morich characterized the outcome as a landmark victory for his company, and possibly for other innovators like it. "This win protects an important patent for us, and provides compensation for this major infringement," Morich said. "But perhaps just as importantly, it says that being a large, global company does not entitle you to willfully disregard intellectual property laws without consequence."

Full story.

Please visit our sponsor Gehrke & Associates, SC to learn more about how to enhance and defend your intellectual property.  Thank you.

Supreme Court hears biotech case that could expand patent lawsuits

Supreme Court hears biotech case that could expand patent lawsuits

WASHINGTON (AP) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday heard drug maker MedImmune's patent dispute with biotechnology company Genentech, a case that could help determine the ability companies have to challenge patents in court.

The companies are fighting over a Genentech patent that MedImmune licenses for one of its top sellers -- Synagis, a children's respiratory drug with more than $1 billion in sales last year.

The original patent was set to expire this year, making it available for free. But Genentech Inc. of California acquired another patent in 2001 through a deal with another drug company holding a similar patent, extending it to 2018.

The case before the court Wednesday didn't deal with the merits of the case, focusing instead on whether MedImmune had a right to dispute the new patent in court under federal laws.

MedImmune Inc. of Gaithersburg, Md., filed a lawsuit in 2003, claiming the deal between Genentech and British biotechnology company Celltech R&D Ltd. violated antitrust laws. But it was thrown out by the federal courts, which ruled MedImmune didn't have the right to sue because it continued to pay royalties on the patent even as it claimed in court the patent was unfair.

Full story.

Please visit our sponsor Gehrke & Associates, SC to learn more about how to enhance and defend your intellectual property.  Thank you.

Life at the high-energy frontier

Life at the high-energy frontier
Feature: October 2006

The Large Hadron Collider at CERN and its cathedral-sized detectors will change the course of particle physics forever. Matthew Chalmers visits the lab to capture the mood as the most ambitious scientific project ever undertaken prepares for switch-on

Nick Chohan is looking forward to Christmas. For the last three years the amiable CERN physicist and his team have been working around the clock in a large metal hangar that straddles the Franco-Swiss border, carefully testing the 1232 superconducting magnets that will soon guide protons at almost the speed of light around the world's most powerful particle accelerator. This is no mean feat – it takes three people up to 12 hours just to connect one of the 15 m long, 35 tonne cylindrical dipoles to the test rig, and each one costs close to a nerve-wracking SwFr1m (over €600,000). But this month the last magnet is due to arrive at Chohan's lab, and by the end of the year all of them will have been cleared for installation underground.

Particle physicists are used to thinking big, of course. In their quest to understand how nature behaves at the most fundamental level, they have been building machines that smash particles together at ever higher energies for the best part of a century. But the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), currently being built at the European particle-physics laboratory CERN, near Geneva, is rewriting the rules of the game.

"Few people fully appreciated the scale and complexity of the LHC at the beginning," says CERN's chief scientific officer Jos Engelen. "It has surprised many of us, myself included." And with the 27 km-circumference machine scheduled to switch on next year after more than 20 years of preparation, the excitement among CERN physicists is palpable. Once the LHC reaches its full design performance, some time early in 2008, protons will smash into one another about one billion times per second at an energy of 14 TeV (14 × 1012 electron-volts), recreating conditions that existed shortly after the Big Bang and placing CERN at the forefront of high-energy physics for at least a decade.

Full story.

Please visit our sponsor Gehrke & Associates, SC to learn more about how to enhance and defend your intellectual property.  Thank you.

Wisconsin stem cell patents to get review

Wisconsin stem cell patents to get review
By KATHLEEN GALLAGHER
kgallagher@journalsentinel.com
Posted: Oct. 3, 2006

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office will re-examine three key patents on embryonic stem cells held by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation.

The patents are so broadly written that they give the foundation, known as WARF, potential to reap big royalties from any stem cell-related products.

The way WARF is handling the patents is harming scientific progress and California taxpayers, say the two foundations that in July asked for the re-exam. Californians voted in November to fund $3 billion of embryonic stem cell research in their state over the next 10 years

The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights in Santa Monica, Calif., and the Public Patent Foundation in New York are alleging that when University of Wisconsin-Madison researcher James Thomson isolated human embryonic stem cells in 1998, he wasn't the first to do it.

"We believe this is a politically and financially motivated challenge, to which we will respond in the appropriate legal forum," said Beth Donley, executive director of WiCell Research Institute, a WARF subsidiary, in a statement. WARF believes the patent office will affirm the patents' validity, she said.

No claim to fame

The foundations are saying Thomson's achievement wasn't novel, and was obvious, based on research others had done.

Full story.

Please visit our sponsor Gehrke & Associates, SC to learn more about how to enhance and defend your intellectual property.  Thank you.

Interactive System Maps Patients’ Brain Function.

Neurognostics sells first fMRI system in Colorado to Swedish Medical Center

October 2, 2006 (Milwaukee, Wis. / Denver, Colo) – A new system of functional MRI (fMRI) testing is now available in the Denver area to help doctors develop more precise knowledge before treating complex neurological disease, like brain tumors and epilepsy. Swedish Medical Center is the first hospital in Colorado and only the third in the country to obtain the MindState fDAD and fDPD systems developed by Neurognostics, Inc., a Milwaukee-based company specializing in functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging products and services.

“Functional MRI technology has greatly evolved since it first was introduced in the early ‘90s,” said Neurognostics CEO Douglas M. Tucker, Ph.D., M.B.A. “Until Neurognostics’ innovations, fMRI had largely been limited to research applications because of the complexities associated with using the technology.”

Swedish Medical Center, a regional referral center for neurotrauma and leader in complex brain, spine and stroke treatments, will use this latest technology to map brain activity to guide neurosurgery and help make treatment decisions for patients. A patient will undergo an interactive exam in the Radiology Department, responding to questions and performing tasks while the MRI is underway. A detailed report, including color-coded brain scans from the exam, will give doctors the most accurate information possible in which to plan brain surgery that will not damage healthy brain and to create a course of treatment for patients.

“We have some of the leading neuroradiologists and neurosurgeons in the region at Swedish who can use this new fMRI technology to take patient care to an even higher level,” said David Donaldson, director of the Radiology Department at of Swedish Medical Center. “This benefits patients as they receive better, more cost-effective care, and Neurognostics’ solutions are great for physicians because the MindState technology is accurate and simple to use.”

Continue reading "Interactive System Maps Patients’ Brain Function. " »

Please visit our sponsor Gehrke & Associates, SC to learn more about how to enhance and defend your intellectual property.  Thank you.