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The Ohio State University Partners with Microlin Bio Inc. to Bring the University’s Transformational Cancer Discoveries to Patients
Largest Ohio State licensing agreement in more than a decade
The Ohio State University today announced the signing of an exclusive world-wide agreement with Microlin Bio Inc., licensing a large portfolio of Ohio State’s groundbreaking cancer discoveries. The portfolio includes nearly 100 issued and pending microRNA patents that could lead to entirely new, more effective and more targeted ways to diagnose and treat prostate, ovarian, colon and lung cancers. Additionally, Microlin Bio Inc. has licensed a novel nucleic acid delivery technology to deliver these transformational therapies to cancer cells.
These technologies, years in the making, were developed by The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James) researcher Carlo Croce, M.D., The Ohio State University College of Pharmacy researcher Robert Lee, Ph.D., and collaborators from the National Cancer Institute with the National Institutes of Health.
Just over 10 years ago, Croce was the first in the world to link small cellular molecules called microRNA to cancer. MicroRNAs are now known to play a pivotal role in the growth and spread of many kinds of cancer, and they have shown great potential for transforming the diagnosis and treatment of cancer and other diseases.
Croce is a recognized world leader in cancer microRNA research. Ohio State has amassed one of the largest portfolios of microRNA technologies in the world.
“MicroRNAs have been the subject of study by my laboratory for more than a decade, and our work and the work of others has shown that the dysregulation of these molecules plays a critical role in the development of cancer and other diseases,” says Croce, who is professor and chair of molecular virology, immunology and medical genetics, the John W. Wolfe Chair in Human Cancer Genetics and a member of the OSUCCC – James Molecular Biology and Cancer Genetics Program.
“This licensing agreement will help translate these discoveries into transformational changes in the diagnosis and treatment of several human cancers.
“I am also pleased that The Ohio State University, its cancer program and the people of Ohio will benefit from the agreement,” says Croce.
Michael A. Caligiuri, M.D., CEO of The James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute and director of Ohio State’s Comprehensive Cancer Center, commented on the implications of the portfolio. “Each patient’s cancer is different at the molecular and genetic level,” Caligiuri says. “This portfolio of microRNA discoveries promises to help us identify and target many of these differences. It will bring discoveries made in the laboratory to the patient bedside and bring us closer to a world free of cancer.”
To further facilitate the development of microRNA therapeutic applications, Lee, professor of pharmaceutics and pharmaceutical chemistry and a member of the OSUCC – James Experimental Therapeutics Program, invented a novel and efficient platform technology to deliver the microRNA to the target of interest with minimal degradation and to prolong stability of the molecules, a historical challenge in the field of microRNA therapy.
“Nanoparticles can improve the pharmacokinetic properties of oligonucleotides, including microRNAs, and help them get into the tumor and then into the target cell,” says Lee. “My lab in the College of Pharmacy has designed proprietary formulations of lipid nanoparticles that can enhance the clinical performance of miR-based therapeutics by improving their delivery.”
“Our goal is to support the researchers at Ohio State in the commercialization process,” says Erin Bender, associate director of Ohio State’s Technology Commercialization Office, whose team worked on the license deal. “We believe that the licensing of these technologies will transform the care of cancer patients in Ohio and throughout the world.”
Ohio State will have an equity position in Microlin Bio Inc.
Microlin Bio Inc. was founded by serial biotech entrepreneur Joseph Hernandez, who brings extensive investment knowledge and experience in the diagnostic and therapeutic industries. Hernandez is the founder of several biotech companies and a former executive at several successful biotech companies, including Qiagen (formerly Digene), Affymetrix and the pharmaceutical giant Merck.
“Partnering with Ohio State was a logical decision for Microlin Bio Inc.,” says Hernandez.
“Dr. Croce and Dr. Lee are genuine thought leaders in their disciplines. The technologies they and their colleagues created will truly change the diagnostic and therapeutic landscape of cancer and ultimately patient care.”
The license deal is also a win for the entire Buckeye state. As Microlin Bio moves forward, plans are under way to build a development facility in Ohio.
“Central Ohio is the ideal location for this type of pioneering clinical work. We look forward to working with Ohio State and the Comprehensive Cancer Center – James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute,” says Hernandez.