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Ohio State forms partnership to facilitate cancer research

Ohio State announced it has licensed nearly 100 issued and pending patents to Microlin Bio Inc., a startup company based in New York.

The deal was announced Thursday.

The patents cover technologies that use microRNA, a molecule that functions in regulation of gene expression, to diagnose and treat cancer.

OSU will not release the value of the deal, per the terms of the agreement, but  Melanie Baker, a spokeswoman for OSU’s Technology Commercialization Office, said Monday that Microlin Bio paid the university an up-front fee and OSU will hold an equity position in the company and receive royalties.

As a result of the deal, Microlin Bio owns rights to the patents and retains them for the duration of the patents’ life, Baker said.

The technologies were developed by Dr. Carlo Croce, the chair of the College of Medicine, and College of Pharmacy professor Robert Lee over the last decade, along with collaborators from the National Cancer Institute and the National Institutes of Health.

Croce was among the first to identify the relationship between microRNA and cancer about 10 years ago, Baker said. Croce discovered that in tumors, many microRNA are either over- or under-expressed.

Based on these findings, Lee developed a way to treat cancer with a nucleic acid delivery system, which will either introduce certain microRNA or inhibit them based on the need. Lee said Microlin Bio and OSU are working on a delivery system that will coat the treatment so the body doesn’t break it down before it gets to the tumor.

Lee said the actual means of introducing the treatment to the tumor remain to be determined, but said it would take place through an IV. Lee also said he hopes because of the capabilities of OSU, the partnership with Microlin Bio will continue into the future.

Microlin Bio was founded by entrepreneur Joseph Hernandez. Hernandez has previously commercialized other biotechnologies through a number of companies, including Qiagen, Affymetrix and Merck.

Hernandez said in a released statement, “partnering with Ohio State was a logical decision for Microlin Bio Inc. … 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.”

Croce said he thinks the partnership will make a difference.

“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,” he said in a released statement.

Microlin Bio representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment Monday.


This article has been revised to reflect the following corrections:

Correction: October 1, 2013

An earlier version of this article misidentified Melanie Baker as a spokeswoman for the Wexner Medical Center when she works for Ohio State’s Technology Commercialization Office.

An earlier version of this article also said Microlin Bio owns the patents when the company owns the rights to the patents. The patents are still technically assigned to Ohio State.

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