Industry, university deal moves novel cancer treatment forward

Chemistry Background

What happens when you put two great biomedical discoveries together? An innovative approach to fighting a major disease.

The University of Minnesota has combined its own patented gene delivery technology with cancer therapies discovered by the University of Texas’ M.D. Anderson Cancer Center to create a first-of-its kind nonviral gene therapy treatment that targets cancer by supercharging a patient’s immune system. The collaborative approach of pooling separate intellectual property underlying two distinct sets of technologies created by two institutions is uncommon for research universities, representing a strong commitment in working together to tackle the grand challenge of cancer.

The institutions’ combined technology recently spurred a landmark $100 million exclusive licensing deal with biotech company Intrexon Corp. and pharmaceutical company Ziopharm Oncology. The deal, a key part in getting the treatment to market, paid the U of M and M.D. Anderson up front for use of the technology instead of designating royalties to be paid after product launch years in the future. A portion of the funds will be shared with the U of M, which will provide substantial support for future research.

For more about the U of M’s contribution, a DNA-based gene delivery platform called “Sleeping Beauty” developed by Perry Hackett, professor of genetics, cell development and biology and a member of the Masonic Cancer Center’s Genetic Mechanisms of Cancer Program, and his co-inventors, see the full story in CBS Connect.