AUTM Newsbrief
Sept. 15, 2011

New patent law could change how academics commercialize discoveries
Science Magazine
The first major overhaul of the U.S. patent system in nearly 60 years is about to become law. The U.S. Senate voted 89-9 to approve the American Invents Act (H.R. 1249), ending a 6-year battle over how best to reform a patent system beset by increasing delays and costly litigation. Although many major universities and large research-driven companies lobbied for the extensive reform package, some analysts worry it could complicate efforts by academic scientists and smaller startup companies to commercialize their discoveries. The legislation, which the House of Representatives approved overwhelmingly in March, "will enable U.S. inventors at universities and elsewhere to compete more effectively in the global marketplace," said a statement from six major university groups, including the Association of American Universities, Association of American Medical Colleges, and the Association of University Technology Managers. They predict it will "improve patent quality and reduce patent litigation costs." More

Congress gives US patent process extreme makeover
E-Commerce Times
After six years of debate over patent reform, the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly approved the America Invents Act, a sweeping overhaul of the U.S. patent system that intends to weed out unnecessary patents and put the country more on par with international patent procedures. The bill, authored by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., passed with a bipartisan vote of 89-9 in the Senate. The House approved it 304-117 in March. It was popular among both parties for its focus on speeding up the invention and innovation process, especially after reports that China has surpassed the U.S. In number of patents filed.More

Cancer 'smart bomb' created from a crocus
Medical Xpress
The researchers, from the Institute for Cancer Therapeutics at the University of Bradford, have published their work in Cancer Research and had it showcased at the recent British Science Festival. While the native British Autumn crocus has been known for a long time for its anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties, its chemical colchicine is unfortunately also toxic to other cells within the human body. For this reason, the use of the crocus and the chemical colchicine has not been used for medical treatments.More

Fingertip microscope can peek inside a moving animal
MIT Technology Review
An inexpensive microscope about the size of a gumdrop could allow scientists to peer into the inner workings of living, moving animals much more easily. The device is small and light enough — it weighs less than two grams — to be mounted atop a rodent's head, where it can capture the activity of up to 200 individual brain cells as the animal explores its environment. That's more cells than can be monitored using an expensive two-photon microscope, which doesn't allow the animal to move, says Mark Schnitzer, a neuroscientist at Stanford University and one of the device's creators. The microscope is designed to detect fluorescent light, which is often used in biological research to mark different cells.More

British group unveils facial reading lie-detector
A British team of researchers led by Professor Hassan Ugail of Bradford University in the United Kingdom have demonstrated a new type of lie-detector. Instead of hooking people up to wires and pressure cuffs, the new system measures heat given off around the eyes and subtle facial movements that are then analyzed using a special algorithm. Ugail claims that the, as yet unnamed system, has been shown to be around 70 percent accurate when testing volunteers.More

New hybrid imaging device shows promise in spotting hard-to-detect ovarian cancer
By combining three previously unrelated imaging tools into one new device, a team of researchers from the University of Connecticut and the University of Southern California has proposed a new way to diagnose early-stage ovarian cancer in high-risk women through minimally invasive surgery. The new technique may be better than the current standard procedure of preemptively removing the ovaries.More

New polymer gel for cheaper, flexible lithium ion batteries
Lithium-ion batteries have certainly been a boon to electronic devices, offering much longer run times than their alkaline counterparts. There is still room for improvement, however. Existing lithium batteries can short circuit, they don't stand up to damage, and they can only be made in a limited variety of shapes. Now, scientists from the University of Leeds have developed a polymer gel that could be used to make lithium batteries with none of those shortcomings — plus, they should be cheaper.More

Researchers discover path to blocking fatal toxins
Medical Xpress
A team of researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem says it has found a way to block a group of fatal bacterial toxins that have to date resisted all attempts to arrest them through the use of conventional drugs. These toxins, called superantigens, are produced by a group of "violent" staphylococcal and streptococcal bacteria. When these bacteria attack humans, they set off an extreme immune reaction described as an "immune storm," that is, an immune response of a magnitude higher in intensity than during a regular immune reaction. The result is often fatal toxic or septic shock brought on by the excessive immune response.More