• WisBusiness

Saturday, May 05, 2007

 9:25 PM 

WARF licenses UW 'biomarker' technology

By Adam Dylewski

Biotech startup Stemina Biomarker Discovery, Inc. has received exclusive license to Dr. Gabriela Cezar's pioneering stem cell-based technology created at the UW-Madison, it was announced Saturday. The technology uses human embryonic stem cells and metabolomics to detect the potentially toxic effect of drugs in early preclinical stages. The company will present its work at beginning Sunday at BIO international convention in Boston.

According to Stemina CEO Elizabeth Donley Stemina's platform technology utilizes HES cells and derived cell types such as neural cells for drug screening, drug development and diagnostic tool development.

Stemina's goal is to find "biomarkers"-- small molecules secreted in response to drug or disease to be used as a future indicator of a drug's toxicity or to diagnose disease. Stemina's technology uses HES cells instead of lab animals to identify biomarkers involved in human drug toxicity response.

This technology provides an opportunity to look for drug candidates in an all-human cell system. As a result, preclinical drug trials could become more efficient at identifying drugs that have toxic effects earlier in the preclinical pathway, offering pharmaceutical companies an opportunity to develop analogs without toxic effects.

The company's work could also reduce the costs of drug development and lower the need for controversial animal testing.

Cezar, the company's chief scientific officer, developed the technology as a faculty member at UW-Madison. The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) has licensed Stemina her work as well as the appropriate licenses to the WARF's extensive HES cell patent portfolio based on the work of UW-Madison professor and stem cell researcher Dr. James Thomson.

Founded in 1925, WARF, a nonprofit foundation, bridges the gap between academia and industry by licensing technology from the University to industry which turns university research into real products. The license income then returns to the university to fund future research.

Donley says Stemina also received an exclusive license to a patent covering Dr. Cezar's work in biomarkers of radiation sensitivity in cancers of the brain and spinal cord. Stemina will continue its work in oncology to identify biomarkers of radiation sensitivity in other types of cancers as diagnostic tool to be used in treatment planning.

With the WARF licenses finalized, Donley is looking to introducing Stemina's technology to potential collaborators at BIO international convention.

"Stemina hopes to meet with many of its potential customers and collaborators, especially those international companies which will be there," Donley said. The company will be located in the Wisconsin Pavilion at BIO and Donley will participate in several panels and presentations on behalf of Stemina while in Boston.

Dylewski is a student in the UW-Madison Department of Life Sciences.
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