Left to right: Ibrahim Marwa, MPH’16, Souzan Armstrong, Director of the Medical Innovation Fellowship, Bartosz Slak, Maryanne Siu, Mahmoud Ramin, and Jacob Reeves, PhD’18. The 2018-19 cohort of Western Medical Innovation Fellows received two BURST funds valued at 70k each to fund their new medical device startups.
The Western Medical Innovation Fellowship (MIF) immerses talented young scientists, engineers and clinicians in training and research environments that build innovation leaders and create novel medical technologies. Now at the end of their 10.5 month program, the 2018-19 Western Medical Innovation Fellows are looking to move onto their next adventure – entrepreneurship. As part of their program, the fellows consulted with clinicians across the local healthcare industry and developed two projects to address needs they discovered throughout the process that fit within their areas of expertise. These two projects are being spun-off into two London-based innovative medical startups thanks to the support of BURST, an incubation program for high-potential medical technology startups through the TechAlliance of Southwestern Ontario.
ecommWestern Medical Innovation Fellows awarded two BURST funds
FDA, Special to Western News, The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved the use of Azedra, a new compound developed by Progenics Pharmaceuticals Inc., for patients with rare tumours of the adrenal glands. Chemistry professor emeritus Duncan Hunter developed the compound with his Western lab team and applied for the patent 30 years ago.
Duncan Hunter chokes up a little when it is suggested that work he began at Western three decades ago will now, finally, be applied to saving hundreds of lives. “It’s a good thing,” said the Chemistry professor emeritus after a long pause. “It took 30 years and had its ups and downs. So, yes, it’s emotional.”
Last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of Azedra, a new compound developed by Progenics Pharmaceuticals Inc., for patients with rare tumours of the adrenal glands.
A well-maintained laboratory notebook is an important tool for documenting experimental progress and keeping researchers organized. Maintaining a comprehensive laboratory notebook can also be a valuable resource when patenting a discovery. As discussed below, despite recent changes to the patent system in the United States, properly detailing experimental progress in lab notebooks remains relevant to the patent process and researchers would be well advised to be diligent in their record keeping.
There is increasing pressure on Canadian universities to produce research with translational or commercial potential. In this regard, researchers typically work with the technology transfer offices at their university to identify technologies with commercial applicability and if appropriate, secure patent protection for such technologies. Rarely have academic institutions been concerned with infringing third party patents, assuming the nature of their work immunized them from such concerns. For the reasons discussed below, academic institutions may wish to pay greater attention to patent infringement issues and be mindful of using patented inventions in their research to avoid incurring potential legal liability as the shift towards commercial research continues.
If you are an inventor who is looking for help from the University or other potential investors to commercialize your invention, you will likely come across an assignment agreement asking you to transfer ownership of the intellectual property rights associated with your invention in exchange for funding or marketing services.
However, upon reading such an agreement you may also notice that you are being asked to waive your “moral rights” to your invention under the Copyright Act. This may catch you off guard and question whether you are being asked to abandon your moral or ethical principles for the sake of marketing your invention.
Biologics and its landscape in Canada: The pharmaceutical industry is currently a multi-billion dollar industry that continues to grow each year. In Canada, biologics (or biologic drugs) make up about 14% of drug spending at a cost of $3 billion a year. With the expiration of many key patents for top-selling biologics in recent years, the interest in producing ‘generic’ biologics (or “biosimilars”) has increased. Even if you are not concerned about inventing around existing patents, it may still be useful to know how biologics are classified by the Patent Office and the fact that the existence of biosimilars in the drug market significantly lowers the cost of these relatively expensive drugs.
“CRISPR” is often heralded as the breakthrough medical technology of the decade that will revolutionize the biotech and healthcare industry. However, the technology is currently in the midst of a longstanding IP ownership war between MIT/Harvard’s Broad Institute and the University of California-Berkeley. Although this war is between two U.S. entities, there are far-reaching implications for anybody who wishes to use CRISPR, such as the many Canadian researchers and scientists who are eager to accelerate their own research.
What is the value of a secret? The value of some secrets is in their disclosure to the highest bidder, like celebrity gossip and paparazzi photos. Other secrets have a functional value which can be realized indefinitely, like the recipe for Coca-Cola, or a secret manufacturing process that is more efficient than the competitors’. What all secrets have in common, though, is that they lose their value the moment they are inadvertently disclosed.
The value of a secret is in its exploitation. This can be accomplished in two ways: by keeping the secret a secret (and utilizing it), or by disclosing it to someone in exchange for something.
Financial ripples from a successful, London-led business development initiative in Asia may soon be felt across the province.
In 2011, WORLDiscoveries Asia – a partnership among Western University, Robarts Research Institute and Lawson Health Research Institute – became Canada’s first technology transfer initiative to establish a physical presence in China, as it opened offices in Hong Kong and, eventually, Nanjing, which is London’s ‘sister city.’
Supported by $300,000 from the Ontario government, the initiative has now grown to the point of leveraging its expertise to promote, facilitate and manage technology-based alliances with Asian organizations as a service to other research institutions, NGOs and small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across the province.
Secrecy is an important part of protecting your intellectual property. As we have discussed previously in “The first rule of inventor fight club…” and “Publishing and patenting“, maintaining the secrecy of your inventions is pivotal to acquiring a patent. In the case of trade secrets, the secrecy itself is the only thing that is maintaining your trade secret’s value. However, sometimes you need to be able to share your secret with others – such as researchers at another institution or external developers. How can you do that without endangering your secret and the future patentability of your invention?