AUTM Newsbrief
June. 9, 2011

Roche wins as high court limits university patent rights
The United States Supreme Court, in a ruling that limits the patent rights of research universities, threw out Stanford University's suit against a Roche Holding AG unit over methods for testing the effectiveness of AIDS treatments. Voting 7-2, the justices upheld a lower court's conclusion that a scientist working at Stanford in Palo Alto, Calif., transferred his rights to the discoveries to a company whose line of business Roche later bought. Under the court's reasoning, the transfer made the company a co-owner of three disputed patents. The ruling is a setback for universities, which had contended the transfer was barred under a U.S. law that governs federally funded research. Universities said earlier that a ruling favoring Roche might cast doubt on patents stemming from hundreds of billions of dollars in research.More

Stanford loses patent dispute over HIV test
Nature News Blog
The United States Supreme Court upheld Roche's claim to an HIV diagnostic test, overruling Stanford University's argument that the intellectual property belonged solely to the university because it was developed by a Stanford researcher. Robin Rasor, president of the Association of University Technology Managers, wrote that many U.S. universities have used language similar to Stanford's, but that they are taking action to address the matter. Still, the decision does not necessarily pose a widespread threat to university patents, she writes: "While the decision leaves open the possibility that title could be called into question to inventions made and assigned under 'promise to assign' language, the fact remains that the Holodniy invention is the only case in which there have been dueling assignments in almost 250,000 invention disclosures submitted over 30 years."More

Study shows corn gene provides resistance to multiple diseases
Farm and Dairy
Researchers at North Carolina State University have found a specific gene in corn that appears to be associated with resistance to three important plant leaf diseases. NC State plant pathologists and crop scientists pinpoint the gene — glutathione S-transferase — that seems to confer resistance to Southern leaf blight, gray leaf spot and Northern leaf blight, a trio of diseases that cripple corn plants worldwide. More

Startup plans to seek out, kill bacteria
The Boston Globe
A small Boston University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology spinout company, Novophage, wrapped up its first round of funding, raising $5.75 million from a trio of local investors and Chevron Technology Ventures, an arm of the energy conglomerate. The startup is engineering customized viruses called phages, whose job is to seek and destroy the bacteria that gum up all kinds of industrial processes, from paper-making to oil exploration to heating and cooling big buildings.More

BIO, AAU, ACE, APLU, AUTM and COGR: Still friends after Stanford v. Roche
Patent Baristas
The United States Supreme Court issued its opinion in the appeal of Stanford University v. Roche Diagnostics. This case is of significant interest to the Biotechnology Industry Organization, Association of American Universities, American Council on Education, Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, Association of University Technology Managers and Council on Governmental Relations because of its potential impact on university technology transfer, on development and commercialization of university-generated basic technology, and on scientific collaborations between university and private-sector scientists.More

Piercing a tongue, in the name of mobility
The New York Times
Martin Mireles says his mother was not happy with his tongue piercing: It didn't fit his image as a former church youth leader. But as Mireles told her, it was for research. Paralyzed from a spinal cord injury since he was shot in the neck almost two decades ago, he was recently fitted with a magnetic stud that allows him to steer his wheelchair with his tongue. Now he is helping researchers at the Northwestern University School of Medicine in Chicago with a clinical trial of the technology, being financed with almost $1 million in federal stimulus funds. More

University of Utah startups' devices aimed at saving lives, cutting costs
The Salt Lake Tribune
Deep inside the human throat, there's a critical junction where the trachea branches off and leads to the lungs. The other path leads to the stomach down the esophagus, the place medical professionals hope to hit when inserting feeding tubes by touch. But this 150-year-old technology is expensive, because placement has to be confirmed by X-ray or endoscope. Putting the tube in the wrong place is potentially fatal. John Fang, associate professor of gastroenterology at the University of Utah, hopes to reduce costs and mistakes with a device he invented and expects to market within the next year through his startup company, Veritract.More

How degrading? University of Minnesota experiments degradable plastics
The University of Minnesota in Minneapolis is reporting that its chemistry department and Center for Sustainable Polymers have created a line of degradable plastics made from polylactides. PLAs have been around for a while and have historically had some limitations. For example, PLA-dervice plastics can soften up a higher temperatures, which has made them tough to use for applications related to food or beverages. The university believes that its new approach, however, will make for more potential applications. One of the main ingredients for its new approach is soy oil.More

GnuBIO ahead of schedule with DNA sequencing plans
Mass High Tech
Harvard University DNA sequencing system spinout GnuBIO Inc. of Cambridge, which made results from its initial DNA sequencing run available to the Montreal Heart Institute and the Broad Institute, said it is months ahead of its technology and commercial milestones, and plans to ship an early access version of its system to Montreal Heart in July.More