HM.CLAUSE UC Davis Life Science Innovation Center

HM.CLAUSE and UC Davis Venture Catalyst Extend Commitment to Support Early-stage Startups

HM.CLAUSE and UC Davis Venture Catalyst Extend Commitment to Support Early-stage Startups

Life Science Innovation Center

 

UC Davis Venture Catalyst and HM.CLAUSE have extended and enhanced their partnership on the UC Davis-HM.CLAUSE Life Science Innovation Center, a business incubator focused on advancing regional innovation in the life sciences.

The UC Davis-HM.CLAUSE Life Science Innovation Center is a 3,100 square-foot, off-campus facility located in Davis, California. The facility, which is owned and managed by HM.CLAUSE, a global leader in the production and sale of vegetable seeds, contains biochemistry, molecular biology and chemistry lab space, as well as 1,800 square feet of contiguous greenhouse growth facilities. Established in 2014, it is the only wet lab incubator facility of its kind in the Davis-Sacramento region, supporting life science startups ranging from agtech to human therapeutics. Startups are able to rent dedicated lab bench space in the facility ― which also includes access to shared lab equipment and instrumentation, office space, and meeting rooms ― for a period ranging between six months to two years.

The expanded partnership sets forth a commitment for a minimum of five additional years to support the facility and grow the associated resources available to early-stage startups and other innovative companies. To supplement the shared lab equipment and instrumentation available at the facility, Venture Catalyst has allocated funding received through the University of California Innovation and Entrepreneurship Expansion Bill (AB 2664) to make available additional technical equipment and specialized instrumentation for the benefit of startups leasing space in the incubator. HM.CLAUSE is also making improvements to the facility to expand shared office space and to provide access to additional lab bench space for tenants.

“The successful collaboration with UC Davis on the Life Science Innovation Center has provided us with a unique and beneficial opportunity to engage with innovative ideas being advanced by aspiring entrepreneurs and startup companies within our industry and beyond,” said Cecilia Chi-Ham, director of Innovation, Intellectual Property and R&D Strategy at HM.CLAUSE. “HM.CLAUSE is committed to supporting community-based, local and regional economic development and this is a visible and impactful example of our many efforts on this front.”

The UC Davis-HM.CLAUSE Life Science Innovation Center was the first member of the Venture Catalyst Distributed Research Innovation & Venture Engine (DRIVETM) Program, a network of business incubators on- and off-campus that provide university-affiliated startups access to affordable work space, laboratory space and equipment ― supplemented with support and resources provided by Venture Catalyst. As the region’s innovation ecosystem has matured, the DRIVE Program has grown to include eight members, extending the resources available to university-affiliated entrepreneurs and startups in the Davis-Sacramento region and beyond.

“We are thrilled to enhance our partnership with HM.CLAUSE, which offers wet lab incubator space that addresses the demand for specialized research and development facilities by many of the early-stage, university-affiliated startups we are supporting through Venture Catalyst and its programs,” said Dushyant Pathak, associate vice chancellor of Technology Management & Corporate Relations at UC Davis and executive director of Venture Catalyst. “This collaboration is a critical component in our efforts to cultivate robust technology startups and drive regional economic impact.”

In 2016, HM.CLAUSE received the inaugural UC Davis Chancellor’s Innovative Community Partner Award. This award recognizes a leader or organization in the UC Davis community that has contributed significantly to driving regional economic impact through innovation, entrepreneurship or support for growing a startup ecosystem in collaboration with the university.

Since its launch in 2015, ten early-stage startups have leased space in the incubator. One of the center’s first tenants, Circularis Biotechnologies, Inc., has made notable progress on business milestones while maintaining a presence in the incubator. Circularis has developed a novel method to regulate gene expression and enable increased production yields of proteins, enzymes and small molecules with applications across biotherapeutics manufacturing, industrial biotechnology, and large-scale agriculture. The company was founded by Paul Feldstein, assistant project scientist at UC Davis, to commercialize technology developed at the university. Circularis received funding and mentorship through its participation in IndieBio’s 2015 winter cohort and has since established partnerships with several companies utilizing the platform for industrial and medical applications. “Having access to the UC Davis-HM.CLAUSE Life Science Innovation Center has allowed my company to make significant strides in developing its technology in an environment that promotes collaboration and offers vital access to key pieces of technical equipment,” said Feldstein.

Another recent tenant, MiraculeX, arrived at the Life Science Innovation Center by way of IndieBio, where it participated in the 2016 spring cohort. MiraculeX has received funding to develop plant-based protein sweeteners, intended to be better tasting and healthier natural alternatives to artificial sweeteners for use in foods. Its ability to enhance flavor profiles of existing foods is expected to enable additional applications beyond sweetening, such as the potential to improve appetite in patients undergoing chemotherapy or suffering from chronic wasting conditions associated with reduced food intake. “The UC Davis-HM.CLAUSE Life Science Innovation Center and opportunities for engagement with faculty, staff, and students at UC Davis were critical factors in my decision to move MiraculeX to Davis,” said Alan Perlstein, CEO and founder. “Being able to work in a greenhouse facility and develop connections with the university and a strong network throughout Northern California has accelerated our progress on important company milestones.”

Current university-affiliated tenants at the UC Davis-HM.CLAUSE Life Science Innovation Center include:

  • ARIZ Precision Medicine – developing new, targeted biology based and small-molecule based therapies for cancer.
  • AstRoNA – combining RNA-based molecular biology and nano-technology/electrical engineering to rapidly and sensitively identify critical microbes, including pathogens of humans, animals and plants.
  • Buto Biopharma – developing drugs that impact the Shc target, with implications for anti-diabetes and tissue protection.
  • Circularis – developing novel methods to regulate gene expression and enable increased production yields of proteins, enzymes, and small molecules in cellular systems.
  • Inserogen – biotechnology company that utilizes proprietary technologies to accelerate Pre-Investigational New Drug research and process development of therapeutic biologics for rare diseases.
  • MiraculeX – developing platforms to mass produce natural plant-based protein sweeteners and products.
  • PathLog Corporation – developing deep learning analytical tools and sensors for processing, financial analysis and tracking, risk assessment, and pathogen safety for vertically integrated food and agricultural product producers including poultry and pork.

About Venture Catalyst

UC Davis Venture Catalyst facilitates the translation of university research and technology by enabling the effective development of new ventures. Along with directly supporting campus innovators and community-based entrepreneurs, Venture Catalyst engages with the Davis and Sacramento business, government and economic development communities to articulate how UC Davis technologies and startups can be expected to generate regional economic impact. Working closely with these partners, Venture Catalyst is invigorating the technology-based entrepreneurial ecosystem of the region.

About HM.CLAUSE

HM.CLAUSE is a global vegetable seed company dedicated to meeting local needs through global diversity, and is committed to innovation inspired by worldwide partnerships in the scientific, industrial, and commercial fields. An innovative company whose core business is plant breeding, HM.CLAUSE specializes in the development, production, and sales of vegetable seeds worldwide. In 2008, Harris Moran Seed Company (USA) and Clause (France) were grouped together under the HM.CLAUSE Business Unit of Limagrain. HM.CLAUSE generated €325 million in annual sales in 2016 and employs more than 2,800 people full-time located in over 30 countries around the world. Its investments in research and breeding represent 14% of annual sales. The organization coordinates breeding for 25 species and has more than 800 people actively engaged in research and development activities. HM.CLAUSE is a Business Unit of Limagrain, an international agricultural co-operative group, specializing in field seeds, vegetable seeds and cereal products. Founded and managed by French farmers, Limagrain is the 4th largest seed company in the world.

About AB-2664

Assembly Bill 2664, also referred to as the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Expansion bill, was authored by Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin, D-Thousand Oaks, and signed last fall by Governor Jerry Brown. AB 2664 is designed to propel new innovation and entrepreneurship efforts across the University of California through investments in infrastructure, incubators and entrepreneurship education programs. The $22 million investment was dispersed equally to each of the ten UC campuses at the beginning of 2017. Venture Catalyst is the program lead at UC Davis and is implementing a variety of innovation and entrepreneurship expansion activities in conjunction with partners on campus, including the Mike and Renee Child Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, the Engineering Student Startup Center, the Office of the Provost, Graduate Studies and the Internship and Career Center, as well as external community partners, such as HM.CLAUSE.

September 20, 2017

By Ryan Sharp

Related Links

HM.CLAUSE receives UC Davis Chancellor Innovative Community Partner Award

UC Davis partners with HM.CLAUSE to open Life Science Innovation Center

UC Davis to enhance campus innovation with $2.2 million from State Innovation and Entrepreneurship Expansion Bill, AB 2664

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AJ Cheline (530) 219-8739

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2017 SAIR Grant Awards

Nine grants, totaling $328,000, awarded to help campus innovators advance research and technology towards commercialization

Nine grants, totaling $328,000, awarded to help campus innovators advance research and technology towards commercialization

2017 STAIR Grant Awards

UC Davis announced today the recipients of nine proof-of-concept grants totaling $328,000 for campus innovators to advance their research and technologies towards commercialization. These grants and the associated review process are managed by UC Davis Venture Catalyst through the Science Translation and Innovative Research (STAIRTM) grant program, which is in its fourth year, and the newly launched Data, Informatics and Application Launch (DIALTM) grant program.

“It remains the responsibility of public universities like UC Davis, to fulfil their societal mission of generating impact from research, by facilitating the translation of faculty and student research into meaningful products and services that enrich the human experience,” said Dushyant Pathak, associate vice chancellor for research and executive director of Venture Catalyst at UC Davis. “Through our successful STAIR grant program and the newly launched DIAL grants, we are enabling our most innovative campus researchers to map a more effective path from their scientific and engineering breakthroughs to the commercial sphere.”

The 2017 STAIR grant recipients

The STAIR grant program provides awards of up to $50,000 per grant recipient to help campus innovators demonstrate proof-of-concept and commercial feasibility of their technologies. A total of 30 applications were received this year. Six award recipients were selected to receive grants following a multistage review process involving external industry experts, investors and entrepreneurs that evaluated each application based on its market potential, technical merit and ability to achieve identified commercialization milestones with the funds requested.

This year’s STAIR grant recipients are:

Johnathon AndersonJohnathon Anderson, assistant professor, Stem Cell Research Program

Anderson and his team have developed a novel drug candidate platform for inflammatory diseases that offers the beneficial aspects of stem cell therapeutics with fewer hurdles to clinical development.

 

Paul HendersonPaul Henderson, associate adjunct professor, Department of Internal Medicine

Henderson and his team are developing an add-on chemotherapy drug that increases the effectiveness of existing treatment regimens for advanced bladder cancer. Their innovation, an orally bioavailable drug, combines anti-inflammatory and anti-angiogenic properties.

 

Lee MillerLee Miller, associate professor, Center for Mind and Brain

Miller and his team have developed a powerful electroencephalogram (EEG) diagnostic that provides a rapid and comprehensive assessment of the functional health of the auditory system, including how speech is processed at different levels and how these levels interact. Their innovation is expected to enable individualized assessments of hearing loss and improve the performance of assistive listening devices.

 

David OlsonDavid Olson, assistant professor, Department of Chemistry

Olson and his team have discovered how to decouple the beneficial effects of neuroplasticity-promoting compounds from their deleterious hallucinogenic and psychostimulant effects in order to develop more effective drug therapies for various neurological disorders.

 

Lin TianLin Tian, assistant professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine

Tian and her team have developed a novel technology for drug discovery involving G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs). Their innovation directly tackles GPCR confrontational dynamics in living cells and organisms, providing a novel platform for rigorous high-throughput cell-based screening and validation.

 

Yu-Jui WanYu-Jui (Yvonne) Wan, vice chair for research, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine

Wan and her team are developing a bio-encapsulation process using yeast to deliver retinoic acid and a short-chain fatty acid with histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitory properties that benefit the liver and intestine — offering the potential to help prevent and treat metabolic-associated diseases and cancer.

 

The 2017 DIAL grant recipients

The DIAL grant program is a pilot program structured similarly to the STAIR grant program, which targets commercial opportunities in software, informatics and data science. This program is enabled by funding provided by the State of California under Assembly Bill AB 2664. Passed in 2016, this unique legislation authorizes one-time funding of $2.2 million to each of the 10 University of California campuses with the objective of expanding innovation and entrepreneurship programs on each campus. Three DIAL grant recipients were selected following a review process modeled on the STAIR grant program, based on each project’s market potential, technical merit and ability to achieve identified commercialization milestones with the funds requested.

The DIAL grant award recipients are:

Petr JanataPetr Janata, professor, Department of Psychology

Janata has invented an online platform that allows users to document and share personal memories they associate with specific pieces of music. Janata’s technology platform leverages his research in the field of cognitive neuroscience and the psychology of music to enable a number of life enriching applications linking music, memory and interpersonal interactions.

 

Nelson MaxNelson Max, distinguished professor, Department of Computer Science

Max and his team have developed a novel system for use in emergency response training where emergency scenarios can be added to real world environments. His invention uses a quadcopter camera that will add computer-generated artificial reality graphic image components to a computer screen.

 

Lisa Miller, professor, Department of Human Ecology

Miller and her team have invented a gaming app to teach nutrition concepts, practice food-choice skills, build nutritional literacy and promote healthy behavior-change in adults to combat poor dietary habits.

 

Benefits extend beyond financial awards

In addition to the financial support, each recipient of STAIR and DIAL grants is assigned an experienced business mentor to review project milestones, offer commercialization guidance, provide business advice, and facilitate networking opportunities and connections to industry. Additionally, through a collaboration between Venture Catalyst and the UC Davis Mike and Renee Child Institute for Innovation & Entrepreneurship, and enabled by the State of California’s AB 2664 Innovation and Entrepreneurship expansion funding, STAIR and DIAL grant teams will participate in commercialization clinics that will provide them with business and commercialization guidance and skills development.

“The direct interface between grant recipients and experienced industry experts, along with accompanying cohort-based skills development and training, is a critical element of the success of these proof-of-concept grant programs in de-risking UC Davis technologies and moving them closer to commercial uptake and societal impact,” said Pathak. “We are proud of our close collaboration with the Institute for Innovation & Entrepreneurship and grateful to our external industry review panel and participants in the STAIR and DIAL mentor engagement programs.”

Future awards

The application process for next year’s STAIR grant will begin in early 2018 and will be open to anyone with principal investigator status at UC Davis. Postdoctoral scholars and staff are eligible to apply as co-principal investigators. The DIAL grant program offering in subsequent years is yet to be determined and will be announced as soon as a decision has been made.

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UC Davis Spin-off Company, Evolve BioSystems, Secures $20 Million in Funding from Investment Groups to Advance Targeted Microbiome Products

UC Davis Spin-off Company, Evolve BioSystems, Secures $20 Million in Funding

UC Davis Spin-off Company, Evolve BioSystems, Secures $20 Million in Funding from Investment Groups to Advance Targeted Microbiome Products

UC Davis Spin-off Company, Evolve BioSystems, Secures $20 Million in Funding from Investment Groups to Advance Targeted Microbiome Products
Evolve BioSystems Inc., a spin-off from the UC Davis Foods For Health Institute, that is developing novel solutions to restore and maintain a healthy newborn gut microbiome, announced that it has completed a $20 million Series B financing to fund the commercialization of its initial products.

The company is developing activated probiotic and prebiotic products based on research that shows the infant gut microbiome plays a critical role in the development of a healthy immune system and early metabolic programing as well as meeting the infant's dietary needs.

Evolve’s founding team, which includes UC Davis faculty members Bruce German, David Mills, Carlito Lebrilla and Daniela Barile, along with previous UC Davis scientist Dr. Samara Freeman, has been conducting research at the forefront of infant nutritional health for over a decade, with a focus on understanding the key role of breast milk in creating a healthy intestinal tract.

The company states the funding will support ongoing clinical activities, operational expansion, and the launch of the initial commercial products. It will also support the development and commercialization of additional animal health products, which aim to restore the balance of nursing animals' microbiomes.

Read more here.

 

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UC Davis signs agreement to license novel CT scanning technology

UC Davis signs agreement to license novel CT scanning technology

UC Davis signs agreement to license novel CT scanning technology

UC Davis signs agreement to license novel CT scanning technology

Startup licensee focused on early-stage breast cancer detection and diagnosis

UC Davis has signed a licensing agreement providing Isotropic Imaging Corporation the rights to commercialize a novel computed tomography (CT) scanner that has the potential to improve breast cancer detection and positively impact women’s health.

The technology was developed at UC Davis by a team led by John Boone, professor of radiology and biomedical engineering and a member of the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center. The primary advantage of the scanner is that it provides true three-dimensional and highly-detailed images of the human breast, offering a less obstructed view of potential lesions than provided by current two-dimensional mammograms.

Boone developed the technology as a new tool to diagnose breast cancers in women found to have suspicious lesions following a screening mammogram. Boone said breast CT might replace existing diagnostic breast modalities including mammography, ultrasound and MRI for many patients.

“We know that MRI, used with a contrast agent, is an excellent tool for breast cancer diagnosis, particularly for women at high risk,” Boone said. “And we think that contrast-enhanced breast CT would be equivalent. But it would also be less expensive, quicker and more comfortable for patients.”

Unlike mammography, the scanner does not require compression of the breast. Instead, the patient lies face down on a padded table and places the breast in a circular opening. The scanner generates 300 to 500 images of the breast around 360°, which are then assembled into a three-dimensional digital model. The imaging procedure takes approximately 10 seconds and uses equivalent levels of radiation dose as standard two-view mammography.

With funds from the National Institutes of Health, Boone’s team has assembled four scanners that have been used to image more than 600 women at the UC Davis Medical Center and one other institution as part of a clinical trial.

“Results from a preliminary study show that breast CT scanning was significantly better than mammography for finding masses that could later be identified as cancerous,” Boone said. “In addition, it was found that not only did breast density have much less of a negative impact compared to mammography, participants said that lying down to use the CT scanner was an improvement in comfort versus having their breasts compressed in the mammography machine.”

Boone is currently leading additional clinical trials to compare non-contrast-enhanced CT versus mammography as a breast screening tool for women at average risk of breast cancer.

Robert Thast, CEO of Isotropic Imaging Corp., notes that about one in eight women and one in one thousand men in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetimes.

“We see a great opportunity to transform how breast cancer is diagnosed with this new approach,” he said.

The license, negotiated by InnovationAccess, within the Technology Management & Corporate Relations division of the UC Davis Office of Research, provides Isotropic Imaging with rights to patents covering novel methods of breast cancer imaging and diagnosis, including a unique algorithm that compensates for imaging differences throughout the breast tissue.

Isotropic Imaging is currently evaluating options to fast track applications with regulatory authorities in the United States and elsewhere. The company is finalizing business and marketing plans in preparation for market launch pending regulatory approvals.

“The interdisciplinary research that led to the development of this exciting technology is emblematic of the One Health and engineering synergies we are realizing at UC Davis,” said Dushyant Pathak, associate vice chancellor for Technology Management & Corporate Relations and executive director of Venture Catalyst at UC Davis. “Our leadership in delivering quality patient care, combined with our strengths in biomedical research and engineering technology development, allow us to enable university-affiliated startups to more effectively translate academic research into societal benefit.”

About Isotropic Imaging Corp.

Isotropic Imaging Corporation is a Nevada-based company established in 2016. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of Canadian-based Izotropic Corporation.

 

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Entrepreneurship-Expansion-Bill-AB-2664

UC Davis to enhance campus innovation and entrepreneurship with $2.2 million from State Innovation & Entrepreneurship Expansion Bill, AB 2664

UC Davis to enhance campus innovation and entrepreneurship with $2.2 million from State Innovation & Entrepreneurship Expansion Bill, AB 2664

AB2664

UC Davis-HM.CLAUSE Life Science Innovation Center is one of several business incubators to foster regional innovation.

UC Davis announced today its receipt of $2.2 million in one-time funding from Assembly Bill 2664, the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Expansion bill authored by Assembly member Jacqui Irwin, D-Thousand Oaks, and signed last fall by Governor Jerry Brown. AB 2664 is designed to propel new innovation and entrepreneurship efforts across the University of California through investments in infrastructure, incubators and entrepreneurship education programs. Each of UC’s 10 campuses will receive $2.2 million in one-time funding through this legislative initiative.

“Innovation and entrepreneurship are central to all that we do,” said Ralph Hexter, interim chancellor of UC Davis. “I am excited by this support from the Governor and Legislature that will enable us to launch new programs and expand university infrastructure with the potential to transformatively impact the California economy.”

UC Davis plans to expand its economic engagement activities and collaborations with community stakeholders to enhance the local and regional ecosystem that support innovation and entrepreneurship. With a focus on synergies between the overlapping strengths of the university, region and state, key areas of UC Davis’ AB 2664 program focus include:

  • Expansion of proof-of-concept grant programs to demonstrate commercial feasibility for university technology and boost innovation across a wide range of disciplines
  • Business training and mentorship programs focused on building workforce skills and practical experience in business, entrepreneurship, technology commercialization and startup development
  • Incubator and accelerator programs that provide work and lab space, research and development equipment and instrumentation, and support resources for entrepreneurs.

“AB 2664 funding is important because it allows us to amplify, expand and sustain the success of our uniquely collaborative programs at UC Davis, which enable campus innovators and the entrepreneurial community to interact effectively for regional economic impact,” said Dushyant Pathak, associate vice chancellor for research, and executive director of Venture Catalyst at UC Davis.

"Bolstered by this forward-looking legislative initiative, we can expect to strengthen our partnerships with community stakeholders, enlarge our network of incubator facilities, enhance our entrepreneurial training programs and workshops, and expand resources within the regional innovation and startup ecosystem so as to support broader regional economic development initiatives,” Pathak said.

Managed within the UC Davis Office of Research, program implementation will be driven by the strong collaborative relationship between UC Davis Venture Catalyst and the Mike and Renee Child Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the UC Davis Graduate School of Management.

The state’s investment will be allocated to support new and expanded activities and programs that will provide direct benefit to campus innovators and entrepreneurs across all disciplines, schools and colleges, as well as to local entrepreneurs whose research can be expected to result in regional economic impact.

Funded programs will be aligned with One Health and Engineering synergies being realized at UC Davis, thereby creating opportunities for innovators and entrepreneurs in disciplines encompassing human health, agriculture, animal health and engineering. Fund allocation will also be extended to existing programs specifically serving the undergraduate community, graduate students and postdoctoral trainees.

Aijun Wang and team

Aijun Wang received the STAIR Grant in 2015. This is one of many programs that will be expanded.

The integration of underrepresented populations in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) is an important point of emphasis in the delivery of these new and expanded programs. Two notable initiatives are being launched: A novel partnership with UC Merced to create and implement a Central Valley Entrepreneurship Academy focused on regional needs that support the development of an adaptable and innovative workforce in this economically-challenged area; and the development of an annual STEM symposium at UC Davis to showcase successful innovators and entrepreneurs who can serve as instructors, role models, and mentors for women and underrepresented minorities.

“By expanding our innovation and entrepreneurship infrastructure and support programs, UC Davis has the opportunity to effectively translate the almost $800 million of annual research funding it receives into accelerated regional and statewide economic growth through talent development, workforce preparation, technology commercialization and start-up formation,” said Pathak.

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  • AJ Cheline, Office of Research, 530-752-1101, acheline@ucdavis.edu
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Bone Stem Cell

UC Davis licenses novel compound that helps stem cells regenerate bone to treat bone diseases

UC Davis licenses novel compound that helps stem cells regenerate bone to treat bone diseases

Hybrid molecule LLP2A-Alendronate could have implications for osteonecrosis, fractures, osteoporosis and inflammatory arthritis.

From Left: Fred Tileston (RABOME, Inc.), Ruiwu Liu, Nancy Lane, Christy Pifer, Wei Yao, Kit Lam and Jiwei Chen (RABOME, Inc.)

From Left: Fred Tileston (RABOME, Inc.), Ruiwu Liu, Nancy Lane, Christy Pifer, Wei Yao, Kit Lam and Jiwei Chen (RABOME, Inc.)

The University of California, Davis, is pleased to announce a licensing agreement with Regenerative Arthritis and Bone Medicine, Inc. (RABOME) for a class of drugs developed at UC Davis that hold potential for treating diseases associated with bone loss and inflammatory arthritis.

The license, negotiated by the InnovationAccess team within the UC Davis Office of Research, provides the university affiliated startup with rights to four families of patents and patent applications related to the novel composition of a hybrid molecule, LLP2A-Alendronate, which has been found to effectively direct mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) to induce bone regeneration in animal models. The compound works by guiding transplanted and endogenous MSCs to the surface of the bone where they differentiate into bone-forming cells, thereby increasing bone mass and strength. These cells are also immune-modulating which help to reduce inflammation at the target sites.

Distal femur from mouse showing more bone marrow (pink) and bone marrow filled with red sinusoids, a sign of higher vascularity, when treated with LLP2A-ALE for 90 days.

Distal femur from mouse showing more bone marrow (pink) and bone marrow filled with red sinusoids, a sign of higher vascularity, when treated with LLP2A-ALE for 90 days.

The use of stem cells as therapeutic agents is a growing field, but directing stem cells to travel and adhere to the surface of bone for bone formation has been an elusive goal in regenerative medicine.

"There are many stem cells, even in elderly people, but they do not readily migrate to bone," said Wei Yao, co-inventor and associate professor at UC Davis. "Finding a molecule that attaches to stem cells and guides them to the targets we need provides a real breakthrough."

Translating discovery into societal and commercial impact

Late last year, RABOME received approval from the Food and Drug Administration to begin Phase I clinical trials to evaluate the safety of the drug in humans. The study sites are currently screening patients for enrollment.

“We are pursuing several indications for use, but our initial focus is in developing a treatment for osteonecrosis, a disease caused by reduced blood flow to bones,” said Fred Tileston, president and chief executive officer of RABOME. As many as 20,000 people per year in the United States develop osteonecrosis.

RABOME also plans to pursue other indications for use including fracture healing, osteoporosis and inflammatory arthritis.

“We are pleased that this very promising technology is being shepherded by Mr. Tileston, who is an experienced business leader and entrepreneur,” said Dushyant Pathak, associate vice chancellor for Technology Management & Corporate Relations at UC Davis. “It is exciting to see the team’s progress in translating the discovery into commercial and societal impact.”

Breaking barriers through cross-discipline collaboration

The development of the novel therapy is the result of a successful research collaboration between two teams at UC Davis: a group of experts on bone health, led by Nancy Lane and Wei Yao from the Center for Musculoskeletal Health, and a group of medicinal chemists led by Kit Lam and Ruiwu Liu from the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine.

"This research was a collaboration of stem cell biologists, biochemists, translational scientists, a bone biologist and clinicians," said Lane. "It was a truly fruitful team effort with remarkable results."

Lane and Yao received a Disease Team Therapy Development research grant in 2013 from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), which along with federal grants from the NIH, supported the preclinical research. CIRM was established in 2004 via California Proposition 71 to fund stem cell research in attempt to accelerate and improve treatments for patients where current needs are unmet.

About RABOME, Inc.

RABOME, Inc., was launched in 2013 to commercialize a class of drugs based on targeting mesenchymal stem cells to various sites of clinical relevance. The company is located in Hillsborough, California.

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From ideas to innovation STAIR Grant

From Ideas to Innovations: Recipients of 2016 STAIR Grants Announced

From Ideas to Innovations: Recipients of 2016 STAIR Grants Announced

From ideas to innovation with STAIR grants

August 4, 2016: Venture Catalyst, a unit within the Technology Management and Corporate Relations division of the UC Davis Office of Research, is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2016 Science Translation and Innovative Research, or STAIR, grants.

Now in its third year, the competitive STAIR grant program provides awards of up to $50,000 to help campus entrepreneurs demonstrate proof-of-concept and commercial feasibility of their technologies.

This year’s award recipients are undertaking innovative projects to address a variety of unmet market needs. The 2016 STAIR award winners are:

gino-cortopassiGino Cortopassi, professor, Department of Molecular Biosciences; Alexey Tomilov, assistant project scientist, Department of Molecular Biosciences
Cortopassi and Tomilov have identified several compounds that significantly inhibit Shc, a signaling protein that has been shown to improve the body’s response to insulin and produce resistance to pediatric nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

richard-levenson

Richard Levenson, professor and vice chair, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine; Farzad Fereidouni, assistant project scientist, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Levenson and his team have created an innovative new method for spectral imaging that drastically reduces the amount of data needed for analysis. Their novel approach uses a conventional camera sensor fitted with either a filter wheel or beam-splitting optics.

kai-liu-e1470180402210

Kai Liu, professor, Department of Physics
Liu and his team invented a new method that creates stable skyrmion lattices at room temperature and in zero magnetic field, making them an excellent candidate for energy efficient data storage as well as other nanoelectronics applications.

tony-simon-e1470180329611

Tony Simon, professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Simon has invented a “neurotherapeutic” video game designed to help improve the cognitive abilities of children with genetic disorders such as chromosome 22q11.2 deletion, fragile X, Turner and Williams syndromes, among others.

“The STAIR grant program is unique in many ways,” said Dushyant Pathak, associate vice chancellor for research at UC Davis and executive director of Venture Catalyst. “The structured review process we have developed enables our independent reviewers to effectively assess proposals for technical merit, market need and the ability to effectively achieve commercial milestones. Additionally, this process allows us to provide detailed written feedback to all applicants, which makes the STAIR program part of a continuous improvement and learning process rather than simply a funding opportunity.”

Each STAIR award recipient, as well as all award finalists, are assigned one or more volunteer mentors who review project milestones, offer commercialization guidance, provide business advice, and facilitate networking opportunities and connections to industry. The mentors are selected from the UC Davis Venture Catalyst MentorNet™ program and represent a mix of industry professionals, entrepreneurs and investors. Members of the Venture Catalyst MentorNet also serve on the grant application review committee.

The annual STAIR grant program is open to anyone with principal investigator eligibility at UC Davis. Postdoctoral scholars and staff are eligible to apply as co-principal investigators.

Past STAIR Grant Recipients Make Progress with Innovations

Previous years’ STAIR grant recipients have made significant progress in moving projects forward along the path to commercialization.renal-artery-300x191

Richard Levenson has received a STAIR grant two years in a row. In 2015, he proposed developing a prototype for a new type of microscopy instrumentation. Microscopy with Ultraviolet Surface Excitation, or MUSE, as the novel technology is called, permits the creation of diagnostic-quality images of tissue samples that are generated in minutes using LED light, and eliminates the need for the traditional time-consuming preparation of samples and glass slides.

Levenson credits his STAIR grant as being pivotal in funding the opto-mechanical design of the prototypes that he and his team are assembling which will soon ship to collaborators. “Without STAIR funding, we would not have had the resources to move forward as we have.”

In addition to the creation of the prototypes, two patents have been issued for the invention and a third patent application has been submitted and published. The team has also launched a startup company, MUSE Microscopy Inc.

Links

STAIR grant program
2015 Recipients
2014 Recipients
“Digital neurotherapeutic” game in development at the UC Davis MIND Institute
Magnetic skyrmions at room temperature: New digital memory?

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Team develops device that may improve the ability of emergency personnel to properly ventilate pediatric patients

Team develops device that may improve the ability of emergency personnel to properly ventilate pediatric patients

Supplying Precious Breath

Dr. Austin Johnson is a physician in the Department of Emergency Medicine and a current scholar in the Mentored Clinical Research Training Program at the UC Davis Clinical and Translational Science Center (CTSC). In 2015, Johnson invented a device that will improve the ability of emergency personnel to properly ventilate pediatric patients (UC Case 2015-841).

Based on a need to deliver the correct volume of air at the required rate, his solution will be particularly helpful with neonatal and pediatric patients, who are much more sensitive to deviations from optimal ventilation rates and volumes than adults.

To help provide optimal ventilator support for pediatric patients, Johnson has developed a device that monitors various parameters, including ventilation rate and tidal volume, and provides audio and/or visual feedback to rescuers. The device is intended to be used by first responders as well as hospital staff. It also integrates with a widely used color coding system that allows rescuers to quickly derive optimal equipment sizes and drug dosages based upon a patient’s height.

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Making drugs safer by virtual drug screening

Making drugs safer by virtual drug screening

Making drugs safer by virtual drug screening

Colleen E. Clancy, Ph.D., is a professor in the Department of Pharmacology at the UC Davis School of Medicine and a pioneer in the field of biophysics.

Together with her team, Clancy studies the mechanisms associated with electrical disorders of the heart. Unlike traditional research methods that rely on animal models or human clinical testing, her laboratory uses complex computational and mathematical predictive modeling approaches to better understand the mechanisms of disease as well as how they are impacted by treatment options.

Cardiotoxicity is one of the most common reasons for drug removal from the market. It often manifests as irregular electrical rhythms with the potential for fatal ventricular arrhythmias, but predicting the beneficial and harmful actions of drugs on the heart’s electrical cycle remains imprecise using current methods.

Clancy and her team have identified a better approach for preclinical drug screening that is both specific and sensitive, and that identifies actual “proarrhythmia,” rather than substitute markers. The approach involves a computational pipeline that starts with drug chemistry profiling and extends all the way to predictions of drug effects in virtual cardiac tissue. By building detailed models of drugs and their interactions with targets at atomic resolution, Clancy’s approach creates the potential to predict these interactions. These computer-generated data are then incorporated into virtual excitable cells, which can be connected to form functional models of tissues. Once established, the model represents a virtual pipeline through which drugs can be screened prior to clinical studies in order to predict unintended cardiac events. It is expected that this versatile technology, upon commercialization, could help to more effectively screen new drugs for efficacy and cardiotoxicity, and also be used to modify drugs that have been removed from the market or failed during clinical testing.

Recently, Clancy’s team developed a model system with the potential to prevent cardiac arrhythmias by predicting drug interactions with a specific potassium ion channel in the heart (UC Case 2016-665). Abnormal drug-induced cardiac electrical activity is most often a side effect from an unintended block of the promiscuous drug target hERG1, the pore-forming domain of the delayed rectifier potassium ion channel in the heart. A block of hERG1 results in prolongation of the QT interval on the ECG, a phase of the cardiac cycle that corresponds to ventricular repolarization.

Not all hERG1 block is proarrhythmic. At present, however, there is no way to distinguish unsafe hERG1 blockers from drugs that are safe. Clancy and her team use their integrative approach, scaling from atom to tissue, to predict the structure-activity relationships that determine proarrhythmia for hERG1- blocking drugs.

 

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Improving Africa’s orphan crops and eradicating stunting in children

Improving Africa’s orphan crops and eradicating stunting in children

Improving Africa’s orphan crops and eradicating stunting in children

Improving Africa’s orphan crops and eradicating stunting in children

UC Davis is partnering with Mars, Inc. in a global plant-breeding consortium that is fighting malnutrition and poverty in Africa by improving the continent’s traditional food crops. These “orphan” crops have been largely ignored by science because they are not internationally traded commodities, but are the food crops grown in the back gardens of the 600 million people who live in rural Africa.

The initiative was inspired by a presentation by Christine Stewart, assistant professor of nutrition at UC Davis, which highlighted the global issue of stunting — a medical affliction resulting from chronic malnutrition that affects a staggering 39% of children in the developing world, and over 130 million children in Africa alone.

The African Orphan Crop Consortium — conceived by Howard Shapiro, a senior fellow in the part-of-th-group-members-counting-cleome-seedsCollege of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences at UC Davis and the chief agricultural officer at Mars — has chartered an ambitious goal to map and make public the genomes of 101 indigenous African food crops. The genomic data gathered on crops will help plant breeders improve the nutritional content, productivity and resilience of Africa’s most important food resources.

The consortium brings together experts from Mars, UC Davis, and a wide range of researchers, industry groups and policymakers. Together, collaborators have contributed about $40 million of in-kind support to the program.

UC Davis has developed an intensive, hands-on curriculum for the consortium’s African Plant Breeding Academy and its state-of-the art genomics laboratory hosted by the World Agroforestry Centre in Nairobi, Kenya. There Africa’s best plant breeding scientists and technicians are being trained to use the latest equipment.

By the end of 2016, more than 50 scientists will have graduated. By July 2016, the group had sequenced 26 whole genomes, resequenced 13, and provided transcriptomes for 21.

“Globally, only 57 plants have ever been genetically sequenced,” Shapiro notes. “The African Orphan Crops Consortium is adding another 101. Graduates of the Academy are professors and heads of research institutes at the top of their game. They now have the ability to make decisions about plant breeding faster, which will lead to higher yielding and more nutritious plants. All of this is happening to benefit some of the poorest people on the planet’s most malnourished continent.”

Through this program, UC Davis faculty travel to Africa and are expected to train 250 breeders over five years. Graduates are already becoming active partners in the orphan crop effort.

women-each-holding-a-measuring-stick-for-their-cleome-plots-prepare-to-sing-after-sowing-seedDaniel Adewale, plant breeder with the Ondo State University of Science and Technology in Okitpupa, Nigeria, graduated last year. He is using the skills he learned to improve the African yam bean, increasing its essential amino acid content and reducing its cooking time. “By helping breeders improve these forgotten crops, I believe the African Orphan Crop Consortium will cure malnutrition in Africa,” Adewale said.

The group collaborates with researchers all over the world, and all of its sequence information will be posted to the internet and offered free to anyone, on the condition it not be patented. “Because we share all our information, we can build on each other’s research,” said Allen Van Deynze, professional researcher with the UC Davis Department of Plant Sciences and a founding member of the consortium, who visits Nairobi each year as part of his commitment to teaching in the academy.

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