Morgridge scientists illuminate structures vital to virus replication

In the fight against the viruses that invade everyday life, seeing and understanding the battleground is essential. Scientists at the Morgridge Institute for Research have, for the first time, imaged molecular structures vital to how a major class of viruses replicates within infected cells.

“The challenge is a bit like being a car mechanic and not being able to see the engine or how it’s put together in detail,” says Paul Ahlquist, director of virology at the Morgridge Institute and professor of oncology and molecular virology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. “This work is our first look at the engine.”

The research, published June 27 in the journal eLife, uses pioneering cryo-electron tomography to reveal the complex viral replication process in vivid detail, opening up new avenues to potentially disrupt, dismantle or redirect viral machinery.

Full story.

 

 

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

MSOE students try to develop synthetic blood substitute in ambitious project

Guy Boulton , Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 1:51 p.m. CT May 30, 2017

For the past four years, successive teams of seniors at the Milwaukee School of Engineering have worked on a research project not short on ambition: developing a synthetic blood substitute that can transport oxygen in the body.

The project understandably may seem quixotic — or, at the least, maybe a little too ambitious. At least one multibillion-dollar corporation and several well-funded startups have failed in similar pursuits.

And the MSOE students are, after all, undergraduates, not post-docs with PhDs working at a large research university.

But each MSOE team — in some years, there have been more than one — working with Wujie Zhang, an assistant professor of biomolecular engineering, for their required senior project has overcome the next challenge of the ultimate quest.

The students also have learned the value of patience and persistence in research.

 “That is not to say it didn’t come without a fight,” said Kellen O’Connell, one of the five students on this year’s team. “I definitely had my doubts along the way.”

 The research project was the outgrowth of a serendipitous discovery by Zhang and Jung Lee, also an assistant professor at the school, while working on a way to encapsulate a drug for colon cancer in natural polymers derived from crab shells and orange peels.

 They discovered that the substance took the biconcave shape — having a surface that curves inward on the top and bottom — of red blood cells.

Full story

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

University of Wisconsin - Madison Engineer Aims to Grow Spinal Tissue in Lab

By Silke Schmid

For a soldier who suffered a spinal cord injury on the battlefield, the promise of regenerative medicine is to fully repair the resulting limb paralysis. But that hope is still years from reality.

“When regenerative medicine started, its stated goal was to replace damaged body parts and restore their function,” says Randolph Ashton, a University of Wisconsin–Madison professor of biomedical engineering. “But one of its less-anticipated applications is the ability to create human tissues and watch diseases occur in a dish, which is extremely powerful for developing new therapies.”

Not only powerful, but efficient. Studying diseases in lab-created tissue may help reduce the price tag — now roughly $1.8 billion — for bringing a new drug to market, which is one of the reasons Ashton received a National Science Foundation CAREER Award for advancing tissue engineering of the human spinal cord. During the project’s five-year funding period, his lab in the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery will fine-tune the technology for growing a neural tube, the developmental predecessor of the spinal cord, from scratch.

Full story.

 

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

MSOE Students Making Advancements In Artificial Blood Creation

Students at the Milwaukee School of Engineering say they are working on a possible solution to blood shortages that we have seen in Milwaukee County lately.

The school is calling this discovery groundbreaking and they believe it could potentially change the blood industry in the future.

Students in the bio-molecular engineering program here at MSOE have been working on creating red blood cells for the past several years.

Original story with video

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

Britain gives scientists permission to genetically modify human embryos

By Rachel Feltman February 1

 On Monday, Britain's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority greenlighted experiments that will attempt to edit the genes of human embryos. The work, which will be the world's first officially approved use of public funding for human-genome editing, is to be led by The Francis Crick Institute's Kathy Niakan.

The news comes less than a year after the first reports of human-gene editing — published by Chinese scientists in the journal Protein and Cell — using the fantastic and at times troubling technology known as CRISPR. By harnessing an ancient defense mechanism built into bacteria, CRISPR allows scientists to target, delete and replace specific genes. It has been used extensively in other organisms, but research in humans has been slow.

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 advance yields mature heart muscle cells

by Renee Meiller

A team of University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers has induced human embryonic stem cells (hESC) to differentiate toward pure-population, mature heart muscle cells, or cardiomyocytes.

A substrate patterned with a precisely sized series of channels played a critical role in the advance.

Published online in the journal Biomaterials, the research could open the door to advances in areas that include tissue engineering and drug discovery and testing.

Researchers currently can differentiate hESC into immature heart muscle cells. Those cells, however, don't develop the robust internal structures — repeating sections of muscle cells called sarcomeres — that enable cardiomyocytes to produce the contracting force that allows the heart to pump blood. Other cell components that allow heart muscle cells to communicate and work together also are less developed in immature cardiomyocytes.

One barrier to efforts to produce more mature cells is the culture surface itself; hESC are notoriously finicky. "It's really hard to culture stem cells effectively and to provide them with an environment that's going to help them to thrive and differentiate in the way you want," says lead author Wendy Crone, a professor of engineering physics, biomedical engineering and materials science and engineering at UW-Madison.

Full story.

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

Secret second code found hiding within human DNA

Scientists have long believed that DNA tells the cells how to make proteins. But the discovery of a new, second DNA code overnight suggests the body speaks two different languages.

The findings in the journal Science may have big implications for how medical experts use the genomes of patients to interpret and diagnose diseases, researchers said.

The newfound genetic code within deoxyribonucleic acid, the hereditary material that exists in nearly every cell of the body, was written right on top of the DNA code scientists had already cracked.

Rather than concerning itself with proteins, this one instructs the cells on how genes are controlled.

Its discovery means DNA changes, or mutations that come with age or in response to viruses, may be doing more than what scientists previously thought, he said.

Full story.

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

Research Paves Path for Hybrid Nano-Materials That Could Replace Human Tissue or Today's Pills

Brooklyn, New York—A team of researchers has uncovered critical information that could help scientists understand how protein polymers interact with other self-assembling biopolymers. The research helps explain naturally occurring nano-material within cells and could one day lead to engineered bio-composites for drug delivery, artificial tissue, bio-sensing, or cancer diagnosis.

Results of this study, “Bionanocomposites: Differential Effects of Cellulose Nanocrystals on Protein Diblock Copolymers,” were recently published in the American Chemical Society’s BioMacromolecules. The findings were the result of a collaborative research project from the Polytechnic Institute of New York University (NYU-Poly) Montclare Lab for Protein Engineering and Molecular Design under the direction of Associate Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Jin K. Montclare.

Bionanocomposites provide a singular area of research that incorporates biology, chemistry, materials science, engineering, and nanotechnology. Medical researchers believe they hold particular promise because—unlike the materials that build today’s medical implants, for example—they are biodegradable and biocompatible, not subject to rejection by the body’s immune defenses. As biocomposites rarely exist isolated from other substances in nature, scientists do not yet understand how they interact with other materials such as lipids, nucleic acids, or other organic materials and on a molecular level. This study, which explored the ways in which protein polymers interact with another biopolymer, cellulose, provides the key to better understanding how biocomposite materials would interact with the human body for medical applications.

Full story.

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

Gauthier Biomedical partners, not just supplies customers

By Guy Boulton of the Journal Sentinel

Grafton — A divide of concrete blocks, painted white and about 4 feet tall, sets off a small area of the factory floor at Gauthier Biomedical.

The area commemorates Gauthier Biomedical's start: It is the same size — 900 square feet — as the medical instrument manufacturer's first shop when it was founded in 2000.

It also provides a measure of the company's growth.

In July 2012, Gauthier Biomedical moved its offices and factory to a $10 million, 80,000-square-foot building in Grafton. The company has invested $8 million in equipment, including more than $4 million in the past two years. It now employs more than 80 people, with plans to hire an additional 25 this year.

That growth came by reinvesting profits and without money from outside investors.

Gauthier Biomedical designs and makes spine and orthopedic surgical instruments for some of the largest companies in the business, including Medtronic, Johnson & Johnson, Zimmer, Biomet and Stryker.

Full story.

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

Steering stem cells with magnets

Quinn Eastman

July 16, 2013

Magnets could be a tool for directing stem cells’ healing powers to treat conditions such as heart disease or vascular disease.

By feeding stem cells tiny particles made of magnetized iron oxide, scientists at Emory and Georgia Tech can then use magnets to attract the cells to a particular location in a mouse's body after intravenous injection.

[...]

The type of cells used in the study, mesenchymal stem cells, are not embryonic stem cells. Mesenchymal stem cells can be readily obtained from adult tissues such as bone marrow or fat. They are capable of becoming bone, fat and cartilage cells, but not other types of cell such as muscle or brain. They secrete a variety of nourishing and anti-inflammatory factors, which could make them valuable tools for treating conditions such as cardiovascular disease or autoimmune disorders.

Full Story

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

Nanoparticles could power 'electronic skin' in the future

By Devin Coldewey

July 10, 2013

A new development in nanotechnology may enable "electronic skin" for robots and prosthetic limbs, offering sensitivity not just to pressure, but to humidity and temperature — and it's even flexible.

The new material is developed by chemical engineers at the Israel Institute of Technology, who found that a certain type of gold nanoparticle changed how it conducted electricity based on pressure.

These nanoparticles are only 5-8 nanometers in diameter, comprising a gold core and a spiky, protective outer layer. When sandwiched into a special film, the way that film is bent or pressed may cause the nanoparticles to spread out or bunch together, changing how well electricity passes between them.

Full Story

 

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

Merck Has Solid Results in a Cancer Drug Trial

CHICAGO — An experimental drug from Merck that unleashes the body’s immune system significantly shrank tumors in 38 percent of patients with advanced melanoma, putting the company squarely in the race to bring to market one of what many experts view as the most promising class of drugs in years.

Full story.

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

Seed-patent case in Supreme Court: Loss of patent control could rekindle ‘terminator’ technology.

Heidi Ledford

A technology called a ‘terminator’ was never going to curry much favour with the public. But even Monsanto, the agricultural biotechnology giant in St Louis, Missouri, was surprised by the furore that followed when it patented a method for engineering transgenic crops to produce sterile seed, forcing farmers to buy new seed for each planting. In 1999, Monsanto’s chief executive pledged not to commercialize terminator seeds.

The concept, if not the technology, is now gaining traction again. This week, the US Supreme Court hears arguments that pit Monsanto against 75-year-old Indiana soya-bean farmer Vernon Hugh Bowman, who used the progeny of Monsanto seeds to sow his land for eight seasons. The company says that by not buying seeds for each generation, Bowman violated its patents. If Bowman wins — and observers say that is not out of the question — the decision could make it harder for biotech firms to enforce patents on engineered organisms, from seeds to microbes, prompting them to revisit terminator-like technology.

Full story.

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

Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, IBM reveal new antimicrobial hydrogel

Researchers from IBM (NYSE: IBM) and the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology revealed today an antimicrobial hydrogel that can break through diseased biofilms and completely eradicate drug-resistant bacteria upon contact. The synthetic hydrogel, which forms spontaneously when heated to body temperature, is the first-ever to be biodegradable, biocompatible and non-toxic, making it an ideal tool to combat serious health hazards facing hospital workers, visitors and patients.

Traditionally used for disinfecting various surfaces, antimicrobials can be found in traditional household items like alcohol and bleach. However, moving from countertops to treating drug resistant skin infections or infectious diseases in the body are proving to be more challenging as conventional antibiotics become less effective and many household surface disinfectants are not suitable for biological applications.

IBM Research and its collaborators developed a remoldable synthetic antimicrobial hydrogel, comprised of more than 90% water, which, if commercialized, is ideal for applications like creams or injectable therapeutics for wound healing, implant and catheter coatings, skin infections or even orifice barriers.

Full story.

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

The Wisconsin Biotech Story: Slow and Steady Wins the Race

Luke Timmerman

They say you can’t go home again. But sometimes you can go home after a few years and notice that your home has changed quite a bit.

This past week, I went back to Wisconsin, where I’m originally from, to visit family and do some reporting. I stopped by the capitol, Madison, to take stock of what’s happening in Wisconsin biotech, and maybe come away with a story idea or two.

My bias coming into this visit was bi-coastal: Most of the action in biotech happens on the East and West coasts. Wisconsin, like several other Midwestern states, has a great research university, but hasn’t quite been able to leverage that asset into a thriving commercial biotech cluster. Like a lot of states and regions around the world, Wisconsin officials have worked hard to create a biotech hub, without making it into the major leagues. There’s a lack of venture capital, and the business culture doesn’t really support super-speculative biotech startups. When I left Wisconsin a dozen years ago, it was famous for its work in human embryonic stem cell research, but many people were moaning about how the commercial rights were licensed to a company in the San Francisco Bay Area (Geron).

Those perceptions, as I soon realized on this trip, are out of date and only half-true.

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 to join gene-sequencing partnership

By Kathleen Gallagher of the Journal Sentinel

The Medical College of Wisconsin has signed a collaboration agreement with Transgenomic Inc. that calls for the school to provide sophisticated gene-sequencing services for one of the company's products.

The parties did not disclose financial terms, but said the agreement could lead to further collaborations in the rapidly growing area of next-generation DNA sequencing, where high-powered machines are used to determine the exact order of chemical base pairs in a gene.

This is the first time the school's Human and Molecular Genetics Center has landed an agreement to provide such a service for a commercial venture, said Howard Jacob, the center's director.

"It helps us generate money to stay on the cutting edge," Jacob said. The center will use the money it earns to buy new equipment, do more research and hire additional people, he said.

Three of the genetics center's staff members have been licensed as clinical technicians and converted to the clinical lab, Jacob said. That number will probably grow to six in the next year, and possibly higher if things go well, he said.

Full story.

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

Artificial jellyfish built from rat cells: Reverse-engineered life form could be used to test drugs.

Ed Yong

22 July 2012

Bioengineers have made an artificial jellyfish using silicone and muscle cells from a rat’s heart. The synthetic creature, dubbed a medusoid, looks like a flower with eight petals. When placed in an electric field, it pulses and swims exactly like its living counterpart.

“Morphologically, we’ve built a jellyfish. Functionally, we’ve built a jellyfish. Genetically, this thing is a rat,” says Kit Parker, a biophysicist at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who led the work. The project is described today in Nature Biotechnology1.

Parker’s lab works on creating artificial models of human heart tissues for regenerating organs and testing drugs, and the team built the medusoid as a way of understanding the “fundamental laws of muscular pumps”. It is an engineer’s approach to basic science: prove that you have identified the right principles by building something with them.

Full story.

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

Payoff may be near for Exact Sciences

By Kathleen Gallagher of the Journal Sentinel

Exact Sciences Corp. was one of the top-performing stocks in Wisconsin over the last year.

And that was despite reporting losses totaling $60 million over the 39 months ended March 31.

Analyst John Collopy uses just one word to describe the Madison biotech company's losses: "Awful."

The dismal financial results didn't stop Exact's stock from rising 39% so far this year. The company also was the sixth-best performing Wisconsin-based stock for the 12 months ended June 30, according to a Bloomberg Financial Markets report provided by Landaas & Co. A $1,000 investment in Exact at the beginning of June 2011 would have grown to more than $1,246.51 by the end of the month,

Exact also has raised $117.4 million in stock offerings in the last three years.

"Despite all the travails they have gone through from a profit-and-loss standpoint, some pretty sophisticated investors are willing to put money into this company," said Collopy, director of research for Oshkosh-based brokerage firm Carl M. Hennig Inc.

The losses, and the cash infusions from investors, are part of the well-worn pathway biotech companies follow.

Biotechs must raise enormous sums of money to develop, clinically validate and win regulatory approval for their products. Sales and profits come later.

Exact has been on that pathway longer than most.

Full story.

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

'NOVA' to Feature Advanced Genetics Research at Medical College, Children’s Hospital

The PBS science series focuses on efforts begun here to use sequencing of up to the whole genetic code of a patient to develop treatments for debilitating and life-threatening conditions that other methods cannot explain.

By Maureen Mack_West

The world’s first clinical genetics DNA sequencing program, housed at the Medical College of Wisconsin and Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin in Wauwatosa, will be featured in a new episode of “NOVA” produced by PBS.

The presentation airs at 8 p.m. Wednesday on Milwaukee Public Television (Channel 10).

The program explores how researchers, using techniques developed here, are examining patients' entire genetic codes to get at the causes of diseases that no other medical technologies can explain.

Full story.

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

Legislation to fund biotech firms introduced

Bill would invest bioscience payroll taxes in growth

By Kathleen Gallagher and Mark Johnson of the Journal Sentinel

With a venture capital plan still being debated, two Republican legislators have introduced a bill that would use payroll taxes from biosciences firms to fund Wisconsin companies in industries ranging from drug development to soybean processing.

The Next Generation Jobs Reserve bill would divert payroll tax revenue from jobs added by bioscience companies into a fund that would provide grants, loans and direct investments to selected companies in the industry.

"If this bill does what we think it will do, you'll have legislators champing at the bit to do it for information technology, 3-D printing - whatever the next industry cluster is in Wisconsin," said Scott Kelly, chief of staff for Sen. Van Wanggaard (R-Racine), one of the bill's sponsors.

The Assembly sponsor is Rep. Howard Marklein (R-Spring Green). Reps. Louis Molepske Jr. (D-Stevens Point) and Dale Kooyenga (R-Brookfield) also signed onto the bill.

If the measure had been passed a year ago, the fund would be receiving its first injection of cash, about $15 million, based on the state's bioscience job growth of about 3%, said Bryan Renk, executive director of BioForward, the trade organization for Wisconsin's bioscience industry. BioForward worked with legislators to develop the bill and will support it, Renk said. Money for the bioscience fund would be capped at $50 million a year, or $500 million in total.

Full story.

 

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

Middleton biotech Lucigen receives research grants

By Kathleen Gallagher of the Journal Sentinel

Lucigen Corp., a Middleton biotech firm, said Monday it has been awarded $350,000 in grants from the National Institutes of Health to fund additional research and development.

The two grants will be used to develop genetic sequencing tools, and to create an affordable tool to help researchers study data from genes and proteins within individual cells.

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 of Wisconsin researchers show molecule inhibits metastasis

Researchers at the Medical College of Wisconsin have shown that a protein can inhibit metastasis of colon and melanoma cancers. The findings are published in the October 10, 2011 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Michael B. Dwinell, Ph.D., director of the Bobbie Nick Voss Laboratory and associate professor of microbiology and molecular genetics, is the lead author on the paper.

Chemokines and chemokine receptors are extensively involved in metastasis of 23 different forms of cancer. The chemokine referred to as CXCL12 is naturally expressed in the bone marrow, lungs and liver, all organs where cancer commonly metastasizes, but is often repressed in colon, breast and lung cancers.

In previous studies, researchers from the Dwinell laboratory had shown CXCL12 to reduce tumor growth and metastasis in colon and breast cancers. In those experiments, CXCL12 was engineered to produce the protein. However, for this study, researchers administered wild-type CXCL12 (naturally occurring CXCL12) or different oligomeric structures, either "monomer" (single) CXCL12 or a "dimer," a paired CXCL12 protein molecule and compared the results for both tumor growth and metastatic suppression.

CXCL12 proteins effectively blocked metastasis of the colon cancer and dramatically improved survival time, with the dimer showing effectiveness in blocking melanoma metastasis as well. Together with their prior results, the laboratory has shown that repression of native CXCL12 expression is a key signature in colon cancer whose impact on tumor malignancy can be reversed by administering the chemokine proteins. They also demonstrated that the single or paired proteins blocked metastasis while initiating unique biochemical signals through the receptor CXCR4.

"These data establish CXCL12 as a potential avenue for the next generation of biologic therapies that specifically target metastasis, which is key in cancer treatment and the improvement of survival rates" said Dr. Dwinell.

Continue reading "Medical College of Wisconsin researchers show molecule inhibits metastasis" »

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

Six companies to be showcased at biotech conference

By Kathleen Gallagher of the Journal Sentinel

Six companies named by the state bioscience trade organization as emerging companies in that industry are exhibiting Thursday at the group's annual conference.

BioForward chose the companies to show their products at its Biotechnology Vision Summit 2011, which is being held at the Madison Marriott West hotel. About 500 people are expected to attend, said Bryan Renk, the group's executive director.

Full story.

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

Stratatech awarded $3.5 million to develop skin substitute

By Kathleen Gallagher of the Journal Sentinel

Nov. 16, 2010

Stratatech Corp. said Tuesday it has received a $3.5 million federal innovation grant to expand development of its anti-infective living human skin substitute.

The privately held Madison company received the fast-track Small Business Innovation Research grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Stratatech was one of just a few companies that received awards to develop therapies and diagnostic tools for drug-resistant bacteria with selected partners.

The company will partner with the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Waisman Clinical Biomanufacturing Facility.

Full story

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

More than just a pretty flower

MIT chemists engineer the periwinkle plant to produce compounds that could become more-effective cancer drugs.
Anne Trafton, MIT News Office
November 4, 2010
Humans have long taken advantage of the huge variety of medicinal compounds produced by plants. Now MIT chemists have found a new way to expand plants’ pharmaceutical repertoire by genetically engineering them to produce unnatural variants of their usual products. 

The researchers, led by Associate Professor Sarah O’Connor, have added bacterial genes to the periwinkle plant, enabling it to attach halogens such as chlorine or bromine to a class of compounds called alkaloids that the plant normally produces. Many alkaloids have pharmaceutical properties, and halogens, which are often added to antibiotics and other drugs, can make medicines more effective or last longer in the body. 

The team’s primary target, an alkaloid called vinblastine, is commonly used to treat cancers such as Hodgkin’s lymphoma. O’Connor sees vinblastine and other drugs made by plants as scaffolds that she can modify in a variety of ways to enhance their effectiveness. 

“We’re trying to use plant biosynthetic mechanisms to easily make a whole range of different iterations of natural products,” she said. “If you tweak the structure of natural products, very often you get different or improved biological and pharmacological activity.”

O’Connor, graduate student Weerawat Runguphan and former postdoctoral associate Xudong Qu describe their engineered periwinkle plants in the Nov. 3 online edition of Nature. The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the American Cancer Society.
Please visit our sponsor Gehrke & Associates, SC to learn more about how to enhance and defend your intellectual property.  Thank you.

49 state biotech companies awarded $13 million in federal grants

By Kathleen Gallagher of the Journal Sentinel

Forty-nine Wisconsin companies were awarded more than $13 million in grants from the Internal Revenue Service as part of a federal program to spur small-company job growth and advance this country's life sciences competitiveness.

Full story.

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

Middleton biotech Lucigen receives R&D funds

By Kathleen Gallagher of the Journal Sentinel

Oct. 6, 2010 10:50 a.m.

Lucigen Corp. has received $301,272 in federal innovation grants to fund further research and development.

The Middleton company develops life science research products and technologies for gene cloning, genomics, and protein expression.

Full story.

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

Report: Wisconsin's bioscience sector is small but growing

By Kathleen Gallagher of the Journal Sentinel

Sept. 29, 2010 8:00 a.m.

While the rest of the state's economy was shrinking by more than 3%, Wisconsin's bioscience sector grew by nearly 3%.

It's a small sector that employs just 1.1% of all the workers in the state, but it also provides much higher-than-average earnings.

Those findings for the six years that ended in December 2009 will be released Wednesday at a networking event in Madison organized by BioForward, a trade group for Wisconsin's biotech industry.

Combined with data from the 2009 Battelle Report on Biosciences Education, which ranks Wisconsin among the eight best states for science and math education at the grade school and high school levels, the findings suggest an industry with substantial advantages that the state needs to act on, said Bryan Renk, BioForward's executive director.

"If you combine the job growth, the demographics on average salary, and the data on education, this is where we're going to combat the brain drain issue," Renk said.

Full story.

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

Cloned beef causing uproar in Britain traced to Wisconsin cow

Oxford dairy farmer harvested DNA from champion Holstein in 2000

By Karen Herzog of the Journal Sentinel Aug. 14, 2010

Mark Rueth's Holstein cow Paradise had just been crowned supreme champion of the World Dairy Expo in Madison in 2000 when a biotechnology company salesman approached him ringside and offered a cut-rate deal to clone Paradise so she could "live forever," and make his farm more profitable.

The Oxford dairy farmer and cattle breeder agreed, and the salesman immediately pricked the prize cow's ear to harvest DNA.

The world of cloning hasn't exactly been paradise for Rueth in the decade since, and especially during the past two weeks. Recent headlines in the British press screamed that two male offspring of a Paradise clone were slaughtered for beef that entered the food chain. Milk from a daughter of a Paradise clone also was traced to the British food supply, setting off consumer fears about food safety.

"The English people get in an uproar about stuff," Rueth said last week, noting that a British reporter and photographer showed up unannounced at his farm. "It's not like you're manipulating or changing the DNA. Half of the DNA from the clone's offspring is from the father."

In the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration doesn't regulate milk or meat from offspring of cloned animals, and doesn't require labeling. Two years after the agency concluded those food products were safe, they're in the American food supply.

However, the U.S. Department of Agriculture requests that the industry continue a voluntary moratorium on placing products from original clones in the food supply to allow trade partners in other countries to pursue their own regulations.

Full story.

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

Quincy Bioscience awarded patent on jellyfish protein

By Kathleen Gallagher of the Journal Sentinel

Posted: July 8, 2010 9:10 a.m.

Quincy Bioscience said it has received a patent on its use of a protein derived from jellyfish that it uses for products to fight the aging process.

The patent covers the use of aequorin-related compounds for preventing and alleviating symptoms and disorders related to calcium imbalance, Mark Underwood, the Madison biotech company's president, said in a statement.

Full story.

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

Mequon firm seeks to put the brakes on cancer cells

James Yarger, who owns a drug development company in Mequon, had an idea brewing in his head for some time.

If cancer cells are regular cells run amok - cells with failed brakes, as it were - there must be a way to fix those brakes.

With help from $12 million of investor funding and a $250,000 loan from the state's Technology Venture Fund, Yarger thinks he has figured it out.

His young company, Endece LLC, is prepared to begin clinical trials next year on a compound he says could potentially turn off any kind of cancer cell.

"We can stop any cancer from replicating. The cell is trying to replicate and essentially tearing itself apart because of the blocks we put in place," said Yarger, 58.

Yarger with his wife, Jean, started Endece four years ago. The company has a staff of five.

The compound Endece will bring into clinical trials, called NDC-1308, is one of more than 40 the company has developed. In animal trials, it has shown the ability to stop a tumor's chromosomes from replicating and to inhibit the so-called hedgehog signaling pathway that is present in many aggressive tumors.

Full story.

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

Cellular Dynamics, Promega to collaborate on tests

By Kathleen Gallagher of the Journal Sentinel

Posted: June 15, 2010 10:08 a.m.

Cellular Dynamics International and Promega Corp. have entered into a research collaboration to develop toxicity tests for drug developers that use stem-cell derived heart cells.

The companies, both based in Madison, said the collaboration has potential to provide pharmaceutical company researchers with more predictive data, driving the development of safer and more effective drugs.

Their tests would use an alternative to embryonic stem cells known as iPS, or induced pluripotent stem cells that are made by Cellular Dynamics. To make iPS cells, Cellular Dynamics scientists take tissue cells, for example, and engineer them into cells that have all the characteristics of embryonic stem cells and are able to turn into beating heart cells, liver cells or any other cells in the body.

Full story.

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

Scientists Grow Cells in 3-D Using Magnetic Fields

June 11, 2010

Cells in the human body live in amazingly complex, three-dimensional environments that are crucial for the cells' proper function. The lung, for example, consists of layers of different kinds of cells that work together to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide between the air and the blood.

The way these cells work together, and the chemicals that they express to communicate with one another, change when they live on a flat, two-dimensional surface.

Given these differences in cell behavior and expression, it's intriguing that the standard for testing new drugs and chemicals are tests that use cells grown in flat-bottomed Petri dishes.

In an effort to more accurately mimic the effect of drugs or toxic chemicals on real living tissue, scientists from Rice University and the University of Texas' M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston have developed a new laboratory technique that uses magnetic levitation to grow cells in three-dimensional shapes. Compared with cell cultures grown on flat surfaces, these 3-D cell cultures form tissues that more closely resemble those inside the body. The technique has the potential to drastically reduce the cost of developing new drugs, as well as reduce the use of animals when testing the safety of manufactured chemicals. The team's results were published in March 2010 in Nature Nanotechnology.

Full story.

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

Local Stem Cell Break Through Could Help Fight Liver Disease

Discovery At The Medical College Of Wisconsin Gives Liver Disease Patients Hope

POSTED: 9:43 pm CDT October 26, 2009
UPDATED: 11:12 pm CDT October 26, 2009

A stem cell breakthrough at the Medical College of Wisconsin offers new hope in the fight against liver disease.

Scientists figured out how to turn skin cells into healthy liver cells. On good days, Emily Moynihan motors through a busy afternoon routine. She makes snacks, helps her three boys with homework and watches her two nieces.

Full story.

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

Innovation leads the way for Prodesse's big payday

Biotech firm's investors listened to customers, changed the business and increased value

Shortly after Tom Shannon invested in and began running Prodesse Inc., he realized no one wanted to buy the Waukesha biotech company's labor-intensive flu tests.

Instead of abandoning Prodesse, Shannon decided to take it in a new direction.

The fruits of that decision were apparent this week when San-Diego-based Gen-Probe Inc. said it would acquire privately held Prodesse for $60 million. That price could rise as high as $85 million if certain milestones are met in 2010 and 2011.

"Prodesse is a great success story for the state because it beat all the big companies by being first to market with a highly accurate, molecular diagnostic flu test," said Kevin Conroy, president and chief executive officer of Madison-based Exact Sciences Corp. and a Prodesse director.

Full story.

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

Promega meeting to draw 600 forensic experts

More than 600 forensic experts from around the world will gather in Las Vegas in October to attend a symposium put on by Madison-based Promega Corp.

The company's 20th International Symposium on Human Identification will highlight advances in DNA technology and explore controversial issues related to the expanded use of DNA typing. An "interesting cases" session that features cases that benefitted from DNA analysis, including a cold case solved after 30 years with evidence from the victim's fingernails and a case where a sniffer dog led police to the wrong suspect.

Full story.

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

Quintessence Biosciences receives $986,000 research grant

By Kathleen Gallagher of the Journal Sentinel

A Madison drug development company said Thursday it has received a $986,000 Small Business Innovation Research grant from the National Cancer Institute.

Quintessence Biosciences Inc. will use the money to support development of more drugs based on its Evade Ribonuclease technology, the company said.

Ribonuclease is a protein that chews up RNA, the long strands of material that transmit messages for cells. The company's technology aims to kill cancer cells by destroying the link between their DNA and protein.

Full story.

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

Biotech company raises venture capital, will move to Madison

By Guy Boulton of the Journal Sentinel

Flex Biomedical Inc., a privately held company developing treatments for orthopedic diseases, said it has raised $985,000 in Wisconsin, including a $150,000 loan from the state's Technology Venture Fund, and will move its operations to Madison from Boston.

Three of the state's early-stage investment groups - Wisconsin Investment Partners in Madison, NEW Capital Fund in Appleton and Marquette University Golden Angels Network in Milwaukee - have invested in the company.

Flex Biomedical, which employs three people, plans to begin clinical trials late next year or in early 2011 on a synthetic polymer to treat osteoarthritis, said Sal Braico, the company's chief executive, who has moved to Madison.

The polymer, based on technology licensed from Boston University, is designed to lubricate and cushion arthritic joints, such as knees.

Flex Biomedical is the second company this summer lured from the Boston area to Madison, partly because of a loan from the state Department of Commerce. In June, Exact Sciences Corp., which is developing a non-invasive DNA test to screen for colon cancer, announced that it would move from Marlborough, Mass., to Madison.

Full story.

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

Promega acquires California company

By Kathleen Gallagher of the Journal Sentinel

Promega Corp. has acquired a California company that provides researchers with instruments that measure light to monitor cell activity.

Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Full story.

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

Minneapolis biotech firm moving to Wisconsin

By Kathleen Gallagher of the Journal Sentinel

Lured by the state's tax credits for investments in high-growth companies, a Minneapolis biotech start-up said Thursday it is moving to Wisconsin.

VitalMedix Inc. is developing a drug that could be used by first responders to potentially keep trauma victims alive longer. The drug, called Tamiasyn, has been tested in animals and could go into human trials as early as a year from now, said Jeffrey M. Williams, the company's president and chief executive officer.

"This sort of deal is better understood by investors in Wisconsin, and angel groups in Wisconsin are not only more aggressive, there are just a lot more of them," Williams said. The state has 22 organized angel investing groups, up from just a handful five years ago, according to the Wisconsin Angel Network.

Full story.

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

Diverse biotech industry pumps millions into state, national economies

By Pete Bach
Gannett Wisconsin Media

BROTHERTOWN — The corn crop sprouting on Bill Hansen's 150-acre farm in Calumet County has a secret: It's fortified with special traits at the microscopic level.

Such genetic alterations begin with the corn seed, which allows it to grow into a plant resistant to rootworms and insects, disease and drought, as well as the popular herbicide Roundup.

It's important because encroaching weeds compete for the same moisture as crops; killing them without collateral damage to the corn makes for a more productive field with noticeably taller stalks, Hansen said.

Genetically altered crops have become the norm. Eighty percent to 90 percent of all soybeans planted in Wisconsin possess what the agricultural community refers to as biotech yield traits, said Kevin Jarek, crops, soils and horticulture agent for the University of Wisconsin-Extension in Outagamie County.

That's also true for 40 percent of the corn grown in the state.

"When you look at crops that have been grown with biotech improvements in the state, it's grown exponentially from where it was five or 10 years ago," Jarek said.

But Wisconsin's blooming biotech industry doesn't just protect corn. It helps protect the state's economic interests too.

The industry in Wisconsin, home to more than 400 biotech companies employing 34,000 people, is among the nation's largest.

Full story.

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

Next Generation Clinical Research Receives Dane County Small Business Award

Madison, Wisconsin-June 19, 2009- Next Generation Clinical Research is proud to announce it has been named one of this year’s recipients of the Dane County Small Business Award. This prestigious award recognizes small businesses in Dane County who are making strong contributions to our communities and economy.

“It is a great honor to be selected as one of the award recipients this year. This is especially exciting as we celebrate our tenth anniversary.” commented Laura L. Douglass, President & CEO of Next Generation.

Next Generation provides services to small and mid-sized pharmaceutical and biotech companies in the development of new drugs. The company manages clinical trials throughout the US and Canada while providing medical safety oversight and data management services. Douglass credits “employee expertise and adaptability” for company’s continued success in a fast paced and highly regulated industry. Next Generation’s work has supported the approval of new medications in areas of neurological disorders and kidney disease. Douglass relayed “It’s exciting to have a role in finding new cures and impacting people’s lives”.

Next Generation was also recognized for their community contributions as the company sponsors high school scholarships and contributes to numerous local charity and volunteer organizations. Next Generation received the award at a breakfast ceremony emceed by Jody Glynn Patrick of InBusiness Magazine with comments by Dane County Executive, Kathleen Falk. The award is coordinated by the University of Wisconsin Small Business Development Center with judges from different industry sectors each year. Award sponsors for 2009 included Centro Hispano, Chase, In Business Magazine, Madison Gas & Electric, Mid-West Family Broadcasting, Urban League of Greater Madison, UW-Madison Small Business Development Center, Wisconsin Business Development Finance Corporation.

ABOUT NEXT GENERATION – Next Generation is a Contract Research Organization (CRO) focused on providing clinical trial management services to small and mid-sized pharmaceutical and biotech organizations. The company was founded in 1999 and conducts novel, complex clinical trial projects throughout the United States and Canada.

CONTACT:
Christine Wood-Tank
Next Generation Clinical Research
Phone: 608-835-5811
cwood@nextgenclinical.com
www.nextgenclinical.com

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

New antibiotics could come from a DNA binding compound that kills bacteria in 2 minutes

A synthetic DNA binding compound has proved surprisingly effective at binding to the DNA of bacteria and killing all the bacteria it touched within two minutes. The DNA binding properties of the compound were first discovered in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Warwick by Professor Mike Hannon and Professor Alison Rodger (Professor Mike Hannon is now at the University of Birmingham). However the strength of its antibiotic powers have now made it a compound of high interest for University of Warwick researchers working on the development of novel antibiotics.

Dr Adair Richards from the University of Warwick said:

"This research will assist the design of new compounds that can attack bacteria in a highly effective way which gets around the methods bacteria have developed to resist our current antibacterial drugs. As this antibiotic compound operates by targeting DNA, it should avoid all current resistance mechanisms of multi-resistant bacteria such as MRSA."

The compound [Fe2L3]4+ is an iron triple helicate with three organic strands wrapped around two iron centres to give a helix which looks cylindrical in shape and neatly fits within the major groove of a DNA helix. It is about the same size as the parts of a protein that recognise and bind with particular sequences of DNA. The high positive charge of the compound enhances its ability to bind to DNA which is negatively charged.

When the iron-helicate binds to the major groove of DNA it coils the DNA so that it is no longer available to bind to anything else and is not able to drive biological or chemical processes. Initially the researchers focused on the application of this useful property for targeting the DNA of cancer cells as it could bind to, coil up and shut down the cancer cell's DNA either killing the cell or stopping it replicate. However the team quickly realised that it might also be a very clever way of targeting drug-resistant bacteria.


Full story.

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

Creation of 'GM' monkey heralds health revolution

Gene breakthrough offers hope of treatments for 'incurable' Parkinson's disease and MS

By Steve Connor, Science Editor

Scientists yesterday announced a breakthrough that could transform research into a range of incurable diseases but spark a dramatic increase in the number of monkeys used in experiments. Researchers have developed a technique to create genetically modified monkeys that suffer from human illnesses.

Experimenting on these monkeys, they believe, will advance our understanding and treatment of incurable conditions such as Parkinson's disease and multiple sclerosis. However, the scientific breakthrough has caused consternation among groups opposed to animal experiments because the development will almost certainly lead to a sudden increase in the number of primates used in medical research at a time when there are calls for fewer monkeys to be used in experiments.

The development also raises the prospect that we will be able to apply the technique to humans – another primate. This could help families affected by inherited disorders such Huntington's disease and cystic fibrosis by permenantly eradicating their defective genes from future generations.

Full story.

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

UWM scientists develop techniques to unravel proteins' mysteries

Proteins, the work-horse molecules necessary for virtually every human action from breathing to thinking, have proved an almost ghostly presence, daring scientists to fully grasp their structure and behavior.

Now, physicists at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee have developed powerful imaging techniques that promise to tell us much more about what proteins are and what they do, how they change shapes and how they work together in a cell.

Such questions go to the heart of our quest to understand diseases and find effective drugs.

"The vast majority of diseases are caused by impairment in some kind of protein function - too much or not enough of a certain protein, or a protein that's not working properly," said Andy Greene, director of the Biotechnology and Bioengineering Center at the Medical College of Wisconsin, who was not involved in the UWM work.

Using X-rays, lasers, powerful microscopes and mathematical equations, the UWM scientists have attacked the task of protein-watching on two fronts, publishing papers in the journals Nature Physics and Nature Photonics.

One group led by Valerica Raicu, an assistant physics professor, has discovered a novel way to eavesdrop on the interactions between one protein and another. These communications between proteins are considered vital to understanding what happens inside a living cell.

A second group, led by Abbas Ourmazd, professor of physics and electrical engineering, has developed what may be a vastly improved method of viewing the atomic structure of a single protein.

Full story.

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

Stimulus stiffs biotech start-ups

Mike Ivey  —  3/11/2009 7:10 am

With all the stimulus money getting tossed around these days, you'd figure biotechnology would be near the top of the wish list.

Instead, specific funding for early stage science companies was practically written out of the $780 billion package, claims the president of Madison-based Centrose LLC.

A line inserted into the massive spending bill says $10 billion in stimulus funds provided to the National Institutes of Health are exempt from a previous requirement that 2.5 percent of NIH research money go to private companies.

"This single line stole a potential $250 million from research being conducted at small businesses," says Centrose CEO and founder Jim Prudent. "That may seem fine to some people. But to the businesses who create most, if not all, of the new non-government jobs, it's an outrage."

Prudent says NIH officials explain they've had difficulty getting enough high-quality grant proposals to meet the small-business funding mandate. They also told Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., that having funding flexibility allows the agency to devote excess money to "pure science" vs. research on a specific product or application.

But Prudent says that approach is a big mistake, arguing that taxpayer dollars are better aimed at actual companies. Founded in 2007, Centrose has eight employees and a sugar-based technology that improves the uptake and potency of pharmaceuticals.

Full story.

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

Weizmann Institute Scientists Create Working Artificial Nerve Networks

Scientists have already hooked brains directly to computers by means of metal electrodes, in the hope of both measuring what goes on inside the brain and eventually healing conditions such as blindness or epilepsy. In the future, the interface between brain and artificial system might be based on nerve cells grown for that purpose. In research that was recently featured on the cover of Nature Physics, Prof. Elisha Moses of the Physics of Complex Systems Department and his former research students Drs. Ofer Feinerman and Assaf Rotem have taken the first step in this direction by creating circuits and logic gates made of live nerves grown in the lab.

When neurons – brain nerve cells – are grown in culture, they don’t form complex ‘thinking’ networks. Moses, Feinerman and Rotem wondered whether the physical structure of the nerve network could be designed to be more brain-like. To simplify things, they grew a model nerve network in one dimension only – by getting the neurons to grow along a groove etched in a glass plate. The scientists found they could stimulate these nerve cells using a magnetic field (as opposed to other systems of lab-grown neurons that only react to electricity).

Full story.

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