Previous month:
April 2007
Next month:
June 2007

WARF questions relevancy of documents used to uphold patent challenge

By Joe Vanden Plas • 05/31/07

Madison, Wis. - Claiming that patents and publications used to uphold a challenge to its stem cell patents are irrelevant to the isolation and proliferation of human embryonic stem cells, the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation has filed a response refuting an initial determination by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Those observations on relevancy, made by Carl Gulbrandsen, managing director of WARF, were supported by Dr. Colin Stewart, a stem cell researcher at the Institute of Medical Biology in Singapore.

Stewart submitted a declaration in support of the patents, emphasizing the differences between mouse stem cells, which were prominent in the PTO's rejections, and the human embryonic stem cells that were isolated and characterized by University of Wisconsin-Madison researcher Jamie Thomson.

Full story.

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

New Fabrication Technique Yields Nanoscale UV LEDs

Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), in collaboration with scientists from the University of Maryland and Howard University, have developed a technique to create tiny, highly efficient light-emitting diodes (LEDs) from nanowires. As described in a recent paper,* the fabricated LEDs emit ultraviolet light—a key wavelength range required for many light-based nanotechnologies, including data storage—and the assembly technique is well-suited for scaling to commercial production.

Light-based nanoscale devices, such as LEDs, could be important building blocks for a new generation of ultracompact, inexpensive technologies, including sensors and optical communications devices. Ultraviolet LEDs are particularly important for data-storage and biological sensing devices, such as detectors for airborne pathogens. Nanowires made of a particular class of semiconductors that includes aluminum nitride, gallium nitride and indium nitride are the most promising candidates for nanoscale LEDs. But, says NIST researcher Abhishek Motayed, “The current nanowire LEDs are created using tedious nanowire manipulation methods and one-by-one fabrication techniques, which makes them unsuitable for commercial realization.”

The NIST team used batch fabrication techniques, such as photolithography (printing a pattern into a material using light, similar to photography), wet etching and metal deposition. They aligned the nanowires using an electric field, eliminating the delicate and time-consuming task of placing each nanowire separately.

Full story.

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

Adult stem cells from human cord umbilical cord blood successfully engineered to make insulin

GALVESTON, Texas -- In a fundamental discovery that someday may help cure type 1 diabetes by allowing people to grow their own insulin-producing cells for a damaged or defective pancreas, medical researchers here have reported that they have engineered adult stem cells derived from human umbilical cord blood to produce insulin.

The researchers announced their laboratory finding, which caps nearly four years of research, in the June 2007 issue of the medical journal Cell Proliferation, posted online this week. Their paper calls it "the first demonstration that human umbilical cord blood-derived stem cells can be engineered" to synthesize insulin.

"This discovery tells us that we have the potential to produce insulin from adult stem cells to help people with diabetes," said Dr. Randall J. Urban, senior author of the paper, professor and chair of internal medicine at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston and director of UTMB’s Nelda C. and Lutcher H. J. Stark Diabetes Center. Stressing that the reported discovery is extremely basic research, Urban cautioned: "It doesn’t prove that we’re going to be able to do this in people — it’s just the first step up the rung of the ladder."

The lead author of the paper, UTMB professor of internal medicine/endocrinology Larry Denner, said that by working with adult stem cells rather than embryonic stem cells, doctors practicing so-called regenerative medicine eventually might be able to extract stem cells from an individual’s blood, then grow them in the laboratory to large numbers and tweak them so that they are directed to create a needed organ. In this way, he said, physicians might avoid the usual pitfall involved in transplanting cells or organs from other people — organ rejection, which requires organ recipients to take immune-suppressing drugs for the rest of their lives.

Full story.

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

Madison's Virent Energy teams up with Shell Oil

Jeff Richgels —  5/24/2007 1:01 pm

 

A unit of giant Shell Oil wants to use Madison-based Virent Energy Systems' technology to create hydrogen fueling stations.

A network of hydrogen stations akin to traditional gas stations will be needed if the world is to move to hydrogen cars.

A major hurdle in developing stations is that hydrogen is very difficult to transport and store, but Virent's "BioForming" technology that converts biomass into hydrogen -- as well other fuels and chemicals -- offers a way around that issue.

Virent and Shell Hydrogen LLC will work to develop fueling stations that feature Virent's technology, meaning the biomass would be transported to the stations and converted into hydrogen on site.

"These systems would be sized for the volume of hydrogen that would be dispensed at a fueling station," said Mary Blanchard, Virent director of marketing and strategy.

Full story.

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

Negative refraction gets natural

Physicists in Germany claim to have found the first naturally occurring material that has a negative, rather than a positive, refractive index. The material -- a metallic ferromagnet -- is very different from all other negative-refractive-index materials known to date, which have had structures that have been artificially engineered in the laboratory. The ferromagnets, which have been shown to exhibit negative refraction up to gigahertz frequencies, could be used in novel devices such as superlenses (Phys. Rev. Lett. 98 197401).

The refractive index of a substance describes how light bends as it enters the material. Most substances have a positive refractive index, which means that light entering a block of glass at an angle to the surface bends towards the normal. But in 1968 Russian physicist Victor Veselago showed that if both the permeability and permittivity of the material were simultaneously negative, refraction would be negative too. In other words, light entering the material at an angle would be bent on the other side of the normal.

Full story.

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

Medical College Receives NIH Grant To Study Fetal Basis of Brain Disease

    The Medical College of Wisconsin has received a two-year $377,000 award from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke to study the fetal basis of adult brain disease.  Hypoxia (oxygen deficit) in the preterm fetal brain is an important gestational complication leading to movement disorders such as cerebral palsy and muscle impairments.

    The research, led by principal investigator Jeannette Vasquez Vivar, Ph.D., assistant professor of biophysics, will examine the link between oxygen deficit and loss of a key agent, tetrahydrobiopterin (BH4), in the regulation of the oxidation/reduction process and in neurotransmitter production in the brain. Congenital BH4 deficiency is known to cause motor deficits that, in some cases, can be treated with BH4.

    The mechanism by which hypoxia causes damage to the developing brain remains unknown, although evidence indicates that oxidative stress plays a role. This mechanism is being investigated in animal models and cell cultures, using several analytical techniques.   

Dr. Vasquez Vivar received her Ph.D. from the University of São Paulo, Brazil, in 1992, and her B.S., in 1988 from the University of Concepción, in Chile.

Continue reading "Medical College Receives NIH Grant To Study Fetal Basis of Brain Disease" »

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

New Waste Vegetable Oil Recycling And Distribution Center Combined With New Technology Promises To Save Wisconsin Businesses Thousands In Fuel Costs While Helping The Environment.

 Coulee Region Biofuels of Blair along with their sister group, PrairieFire Biofuels of Madison, today are proud to announce the opening of the new Coulee Region Biofuels Recycling and Distribution Center in Blair, Wisconsin. The new facility hosted an open house this morning that was attended by dozens of businesses and individuals interested in alternative fuels.

Download INOV8 Statement


Download Coulee Region Bio-Fuel Statement

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

Stem cells may look malignant, not act it

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Call it the cellular equivalent of big glasses, a funny nose and a fake mustache.

Bone marrow stem cells attracted to the site of a cancerous growth frequently take on the outward appearance of the malignant cells around them, University of Florida researchers report in a paper to be published in the August issue of Stem Cells.

But whether that enables them to fuel cancer's ability to develop and then spread, as some scientists suspect, is not entirely clear. The findings, available early in this month's online edition of the journal, actually contest the increasingly popular theory that bone marrow stem cells seed cancer. Instead, these cells might simply look like cancer, not act like it.

"They have the same kind of surface proteins," said study author Chris Cogle, M.D., an assistant professor of medicine at the UF's College of Medicine Program in Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine. "They have the same skin. The next question is 'Do they have the same guts"'

"Our results indicate these cells act as developmental mimics; they come in and look like the surrounding neoplastic tissue, but they aren't actually the seed of cancer," said Cogle, who also is affiliated with the UF Shands Cancer Center. "At the worst, these cells could help support cancerous tissue by providing it with growth factors or proteins that help the cancer grow and survive. At the very least, these marrow cells are just being tricked into coming into the cancerous environment and then made to walk and talk like they don't usually do."

Full story.

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

Hydrogen breakthrough could open the road to carbon-free cars

A new breakthrough in hydrogen storage technology could remove a key barrier to widespread uptake of non-polluting cars that produce no carbon dioxide emissions.

UK scientists have developed a compound of the element lithium which may make it practical to store enough hydrogen on-board fuel-cell-powered cars to enable them to drive over 300 miles before refuelling. Achieving this driving range is considered essential if a mass market for fuel cell cars is to develop in future years, but has not been possible using current hydrogen storage technologies.

The breakthrough has been achieved by a team from the Universities of Birmingham and Oxford and the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire, under the auspices of the UK Sustainable Hydrogen Energy Consortium (UK-SHEC). UK-SHEC is funded by the SUPERGEN (Sustainable Power Generation and Supply) initiative managed and led by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

Fuel cells produce carbon-free electricity by harnessing electrochemical reactions between hydrogen and oxygen. However, today's prototype and demonstration fuel-cell-powered cars only have a range of around 200 miles. To achieve a 300 mile driving range, an on-board space the size of a double-decker bus would be needed to store hydrogen gas at standard temperature and pressure, while storing it as a compressed gas in cylinders or as a liquid in storage tanks would not be practical due to the weight and size implications.

Full story.

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

Sugar holds sweet promise

Start-up will use chemistry to improve drugs

By KATHLEEN GALLAGHER
kgallagher@journalsentinel.com Posted: May 23, 2007

A Madison biotech start-up is hoping to build a drug discovery franchise that leverages its chemistry expertise to improve a variety of existing and failed drugs.

Centrose LLC says it has a proprietary technology that uses sugar molecules to make drugs less toxic and more effective.

"This idea of drugs that are improved by adding sugars to them is kind of an untapped area," said Troy Wilson, president and chief executive officer of Intellikine, a San Diego drug development company. Wilson, who has founded several biotech companies, agreed to be on the advisory boards for Centrose and just one other company, he said.

"If you can take properties of existing drugs and make them better using this technology, you've got a pretty good recipe for success."

Full story.

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

Researchers store data in bacteria DNA

By YURI KAGEYAMA, AP Business WriterWed May 16, 6:46 PM ET

These days, data get stored on disks, computer chips, hard drives and good old-fashioned paper. Scientists in Japan see something far smaller but more durable — bacteria.

The four characters that represent the genetic coding in DNA work much like digital data. Character combinations can stand for specific letters and symbols — so codes in genomes can be translated, or read, to produce music, text, video and other content.

While ink may fade and computers may crash, bacterial information lasts as long as a species stays alive — possibly a mind-boggling million years — according to Professor Masaru Tomita, who heads the team of researchers at Keio University.

Tomita's team successfully inserted into a common bacterium Albert Einstein's famous "E equals MC squared" equation and "1905," the year the Nobel Prize-winning physicist published the special theory of relativity.

Genetic coding is so massive that information — say, a Shakespeare play — can be stashed away somewhere in the gene without affecting an organism's overall appearance and other traits.

But mutation could distort stored data. Tomita says data are stored in four places in the bacteria so the data stay intact, though Katsumi Doi, bacteria expert and Kyushu University professor, is skeptical.

Full story.

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

UW to open stem-cell center

UW to open stem-cell center
DAVID WAHLBERG
608-252-6125

UW-Madison may be known worldwide for stem-cell research, but the campus has lacked an organized way to get its stem-cell scientists to share lab equipment, train new researchers, educate the public and garner federal grants, campus authorities say.

That is changing with today's announcement of a new Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Center, a virtual center with $750,000 in initial funding.

"Just about every university now has a stem-cell center," said Clive Svendsen, a co-director of the center. "This is a response to national competition in this area. We want to keep UW-Madison a leader in the field."

Full story.

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

Inexpensive “Nanoglue” Can Bond Nearly Anything Together

Troy, N.Y. — Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have developed a new method to bond materials that don’t normally stick together. The team’s adhesive, which is based on self-assembling nanoscale chains, could impact everything from next-generation computer chip manufacturing to energy production.

Less than a nanometer — or one billionth of a meter — thick, the nanoglue is inexpensive to make and can withstand temperatures far higher than what was previously envisioned. In fact, the adhesive’s molecular bonds strengthen when exposed to heat.

The glue material is already commercially available, but the research team’s method of treating the glue to dramatically enhance its “stickiness” and heat resistance is completely new. The project, led by Rensselaer materials science and engineering professor Ganapathiraman Ramanath, is featured in the May 17 issue of the journal Nature.

Full story.


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

Coulee Region Bio-Fuels LLC, Opens Wisconsin’s First Vegetable Oil Recycling And Distribution Center

The landmark Coulee Region Biofuels Recycling and Distribution Center in Blair, Wisconsin will hold an Open House and Product Demonstration on Wednesday, May 23, 2007. This open house will reveal a collaboration of three of the region’s leaders in biofuel technology. Taavi McMahon and David Dudley of the PrairieFire Biofuels Co-op and John Feyen of Arcade Pumping have formed an LLC named Coulee Region Biofuels. Matt Fisher, Project Manager at INOV8 International, has been instrumental in the development of the project because of INOV8’s role as a leader in alternate fuels combustion technology. John Feyen of Coulee Region Bio-Fuels is pleased to show the Coulee Region this new facility that will have the ability to collect, recycle and distribute an environmentally friendly alternate fuel source for businesses in the Coulee Region. There are two types of burners that have the ability to use this fuel and they both come from the Coulee Region corporation INOV8 International of La Crosse. One of the burners is the patented Multi-fuel burner capable of burning waste and straight vegetable oil and virtually any combustible oil that has BTU value. The other is the patent-pending Dual-fuel burner that truly burns two different fuels at the same time, a ground breaking, industry first. There will be demonstrations of the entire process from collection of the oil to the different appliances and burners that use it. Please take the time to come and see a new way to save as well as be environmentally friendly.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007 – 10:00 AM
Coulee Region Bio-Fuels Collection and Distribution Center
509 4th St., Blair, Wisconsin
(At the intersection of Highways 53 and 95)
Download media advisory.

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

Bone Marrow Stem Cells May Cure Eye Disease

CINCINNATI—Adult bone marrow stem cells may help cure certain genetic eye diseases, according to UC researchers.

 

Scientists have completed a study using mice which showed that bone marrow stem cells can switch roles and produce keratocan, a natural protein involved in the growth of the cornea—the transparent, outer layer of the eyeball. This ability of marrow cells to “differentiate” into keratocan-producing cells might provide a means for treating abnormal corneal cell growth in people.

 

Winston Whei-Yang Kao, PhD, professor of ophthalmology, and Hongshan Liu, PhD, research scientist in the department of ophthalmology, will present their findings at the annual meeting of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology being held in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., May 9 and10.

 

In the laboratory, the researchers induced corneal abnormalities that mimicked genetic eye mutations and then injected bone marrow stem cells into the corneas to see if they altered the mutations.

 

The study showed that after only one week, the abnormal corneas of animal models injected with bone marrow stem cells began to change shape and heal.    

Full story.

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

Marquette professor looks at growing debate of using technology to enhance humans

Robo-quandary
By MARK JOHNSON
markjohnson@journalsentinel.com

Posted: May 8, 2007

We can't decide whether to embrace or strangle our inner cyborg.

The "Bionic Man/Bionic Woman" in us gives thanks for microchips that help our damaged bodies, pills that keep our brains happy and focused, Palm Pilots that put information in our hands and eye implants that improve our vision.

But will we welcome a future that includes: designer children, their brains 20% smarter and wiped clean of the most violent impulses; older adults living 20 years longer than today; wireless links connecting our brains to e-mail transmitters; perhaps even human eyes endowed with night vision?

Quietly, technology that remedies the failings of our bodies and provides us with high-speed information might be leading us to the brink of a new and ethically complex frontier - one in which we have the ability to redesign ourselves and our children.

This is the brave new world Marquette University assistant philosophy professor Keith A. Bauer examines in a forthcoming paper titled "Wired Patients," due to be published this year in the Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics.

In the paper, Bauer describes how electrodes inserted into the brain help patients regain functions lost to strokes and spinal cord injuries. About 200 Americans so far have had the VeriChip, a microchip the size of a grain of rice, implanted in their arms, where it stores medical information that can be retrieved and viewed by a doctor with the sweep of a scanner the size of a calculator.

Full story.

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

TomoTherapy builds cutting-edge device for radiation therapy

Initial public offering on deck

By AVRUM D. LANK
alank@journalsentinel.com
Posted: May 4, 2007

TomoTherapy Inc., a fast-growing Madison-based maker of high-tech medical equipment, is expected to join the ranks of public companies next week when it completes an initial public offering.

Tomo filed documents in February with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, saying it expected to sell about $200 million worth of stock to the public. According to The Associated Press, an offering of 10.9 million shares priced between $15 and $17 each is expected to be made next week. That would raise between $163.5 million and $185.3 million. The shares are expected to trade on the Nasdaq market.

Tomo was started 10 years ago and now employs about 500 people making radiation therapy equipment. Its systems help doctors calculate the best way to deliver radiation to a tumor. As a result, the beams of radiation can be directed very precisely, leaving more healthy surrounding tissue than with other methods.

A survey of cancer physicians by a Morgan Stanley analyst has estimated that Tomo equipment eventually could capture 26% of its market.

Tomo has a 66,000-square-foot manufacturing plant in Madison and a backlog of $164 million in orders as of Dec. 31, according to the SEC filing.

Full story.

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

Ruling could aid challenge to UW stem cell patents

Supreme Court affirms basis of patent objection

By KATHLEEN GALLAGHER
kgallagher@journalsentinel.com Posted: May 1, 2007

A Supreme Court ruling this week could make it more difficult for a Wisconsin foundation to defend key embryonic stem cell patents against challenges by two groups, some patent experts and representatives of those groups said Tuesday.

The groups have argued that three fundamental patents the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation holds are based on research that would have been obvious to anyone familiar with literature in the field. University of Wisconsin-Madison scientist James Thomson in 1998 was the first to isolate human embryonic stem cells.

The court decision Monday has been widely viewed as one that will make it harder to get patents and defend existing ones. The court said Teleflex Inc. was not entitled to a patent on an automobile brake it developed by combining ideas from two existing patents because joining the concepts was obvious.

"We thought what James Thomson did was obvious when we filed the challenges, so this would, if anything, enhance our case," said John M. Simpson, stem cell project director at the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, a consumer watchdog group in Santa Monica, Calif. The other group that in July requested the re-examination of WARF's patents is the Public Patent Foundation, a New York group that targets the patent system.

The U.S. Patent Office last month issued a preliminary rejection of the three WARF patents. Only about 12% of all patents are canceled, the office has said.

Full story.

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

UW is finalist for biofuel grant

HEATHER LaROI 608-252-6143
UW-Madison is on the short list for a major federal grant to study new strategies for generating biofuels.

The U.S. Department of Energy is expected to invest $125 million over five years at each of two or possibly three new bioenergy research centers, starting as early as this year.

If UW-Madison's bid gets final approval, the grant would fund the start of the proposed Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center on campus.

Full story.

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