Univ. of Maryland (UM) Ventures announced agreements between Univ. of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) and five different life sciences companies across the Baltimore/Washington metropolitan region. The companies include Montgomery County-based Rexahn Pharmaceuticals, Baltimore County-based Plasmonix, Prince Georges County-based IGI Technologies, Howard County-based A&G Pharmaceuticals and Frederick County-based BioAssay Works. These deals are part of UM Ventures' continual efforts to accelerate technology commercialization, advance industry collaboration and support projects with commercial value at both the Baltimore and College Park campuses of the university.
"UMB is very excited to collaborate with these companies, each an innovator in its own right," said Phil Robilotto, Asst. VP, Office of Technology Transfer, UMB. "These types of collaborations are at the core of our mission to channel the expertise of our industry partners and highlight our efforts to support the Maryland biotechnology community." UMB/Rexahn Exclusive License Agreement: In June 2013, UMB and Rexahn Pharmaceuticals, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company developing the next generation of cancer drugs, executed an exclusive license agreement for a novel drug delivery platform, Nano-Polymer-Drug Conjugate Systems (NPDCS), which was co-developed by researchers with the Univ. of Maryland (UM) School of Pharmacy in the Dept. of Pharmaceutical Sciences, including Asst. Prof. Anjan Nan, PhD. Rexahn's platform uses existing chemotherapeutic agents, delivering them directly into cancer tumors. The UMB/Rexahn collaboration began after the company and a team of UMB researchers received a Maryland Industrial Partnership (MIPS) award. The MIPS program is aimed at technology acceleration, providing funds that are matched by Maryland companies to support university-based research.
UMB/Plasmonix License Agreement: Also in June 2013, UMB entered into a license agreement with Plasmonix for a pathogen detection technology.
Plasmonix focuses on the enhancement of luminescent signals through advanced use of metal nanoparticles, applying its technology in life science and diagnostic assays. Joseph Lakowicz, PhD, Prof. of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology within the UM School of Medicine, invented the licensed UMB technology. His laboratory focuses on advancement of fluorescence compositions and methods for use in both research and commercial applications.
UMB Option Agreements with IGI Technologies/A&G Pharmaceuticals: UMB also executed option agreements (giving each company the exclusive right to evaluate a university technology for a short period of time prior to executing a full license agreement) during June 2013 with IGI Technologies and A&G Pharmaceuticals, both university startups, although at different stages of company development. Founded by Raj Shekhar, PhD, and William Plishker, PhD, former UM School of Medicine researchers from the Dept. of Diagnostic Radiology, IGI Technologies is an emerging startup developing high-speed medical image registration technology through a Phase II Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). A&G Pharmaceuticals, which was founded as a UMB startup in 2007, is discovering and developing theranostics (drug/test combinations) that improve screening, detection and treatment of cancer. The company also offers custom antibody development through its Service Div. - Precision Antibody. UMB's option agreement with A&G Pharmaceuticals is to explore the potential for the company's development of a new cancer diagnostic test based on the tissue biomarker research of lead inventor Yun Qiu, PhD, Prof. of Pharmacology, UM School of Medicine.
UMB/BioAssay Works Commercial Evaluation and Option Agreement: In September 2012, UMB entered into a commercial evaluation and option agreement with BioAssay Works to evaluate a Staph aureus diagnostic technology based on the work of lead inventor, Mark E. Shirtliff, Assoc. Prof., Dept. of Microbial Pathogenesis, with a dual appointment in UM Schools of Dentistry and Medicine. Shirtliff studies bacterial biofilms, a mode of growth where pathogens such as Staph aureus become resistant to conventional therapy. He was awarded the 2013 BioMaryland LIFE Prize for his promising Staph vaccine work.
BioAssay Works focuses on antibody-based and antigen-based detection technologies, and on their application in lateral-flow immunoassay.
The partnership between BioAssay Works and UMB may lead to the development of a rapid and sensitive test for Staph, in particular the treatment-resistant type ("MRSA").
Since UM Ventures launched in 2012, the university has helped faculty entrepreneurs manage and commercialize their discoveries, and has helped student entrepreneurs participate in and lead real-world early-stage business ventures. UMB and UMCP startups include a wide range of success stories. UM Ventures provides resources, funding and expertise to help startups bring innovative technologies to the market.