The Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM) annual meeting is now under way in New Orleans. Against this backdrop we continue our coverage of university patenting today with a look at the Leland Stanford Junior University of Stanford, CA, known more commonly as Stanford University. Stanford is a private research university founded in 1885 and one of the world’s most prestigious collegiate institutions. They are also home to one of the most successful technology transfer offices in the nation.
Stanford supports research and development activities in diverse fields. Much of these activities are interdisciplinary in nature. For example, the school’s Human Sciences and Technologies Advanced Research Institute (H-STAR) is a collaborative research center developing technological solutions for communication, national security, commerce, art and education. Stanford’s Center for Social Innovation offers research, education and action programs to master’s degree students, faculty, alumni and field practitioners for building a sustainable and prosperous world.
The innovations spurred by Stanford R&D often go on to create economic success once those developments leave the school’s research facilities. By the university’s own measure, companies started by entrepreneurs from the school have created 5.4 million jobs since the 1930s and they currently generate $2.7 trillion in global revenue each year. Many of us use products from these companies daily and a number of these businesses, including Yahoo!, Google, Hewlett-Packard and Cisco, are regularly featured as part of our Companies We Follow series here on IPWatchdog.
During 2013, Stanford University was the recipient of 170 patents from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, tied for the 176th with Cook Medical Technologies LLC and just ahead of the University of Texas (169 U.S. patents in 2013). In 2014, Stanford was issued 195 U.S. patents according to our research using Innography’s patent analysis tools. The text cluster shown here, also provided by Innography, indicates that much of Stanford’s recent research and development focus has been on nucleic acid, pharmaceutical compositions and light data.
Stanford’s Issued Patents: From Anxiety Reduction Therapies to Prenatal Genome Mapping
A great number of patents issued to Stanford in recent weeks protect technologies that seek to address various medical issues associated with the neurological system. A technique that employs native pathways to alleviate anxiety within animals is featured within U.S. Patent No. 8932562, issued under the title Optically Controlled CNS Dysfunction. The patent protects a method for screening for a compound that alleviates anxiety by administering a compound to an animal having anxiety by selective illumination of an opsin expressed in the glutamatergic pyramidal neurons of the basolateral amygdala and determining the anxiety level of the animal. The invention is intended to help the development of effective anxiety treatments with fewer side effects which could be used on mice, rats or humans. Methods for gaining a better understanding of the natural activities of the central nervous system are also disclosed by U.S. Patent No. 8952213, which is titled Neuronal Activation in a Transgenic Model. This patent claims a method of identifying one or more living sensory neurons activated by a stimulus in a transgenic mouse by providing a transgenic mouse whose genome includes a specific nucleic acid construct, administering a predetermined chemical, behavioral or pharmacological stimulus to the mouse and identifying one or more living sensory neurons expressing a detachable reporter, either a luminescent or fluorescent protein, in a brain slice derived from the transgenic mouse. The invention enables the ability to determine the neural basis of behavioral states, learning and memory by assaying function in living brain cells. The improvement of cognitive function in the face of neurodevelopmental disorders, such as Down syndrome, is outlined within U.S. Patent No. 8946206, which is titled Methods for Improving Cognitive Function. The patent claims a method of improving a cognitive function in a human subject with Down syndrome by administering a therapeutically effective dose of pentylenetetrazole to a subject in a delayed or sustained release formulation so that the peak concentration is released when a subject is asleep; the pentylenetetrazole is administered once daily two hours before sleep for five days straight. This innovation is designed to treat neurodevelopmental disorders while taking advantage of the impact of sleep on the mechanics of memory and cognitive functioning.
Medical innovations spurred by research at Stanford institutions include the novel treatment for cancer expressed within U.S. Patent No. 8940331, titled Hydrogels, Methods of Making Hydrogels, Methods of Using Hydrogels, and Methods of Isolating, Trapping, Attracting, and/or Killing Cancer Cells. The random coil polypeptide polymer substrate hydrogel protected here includes a Q block with a Q substrate and at least one glutamine group, a K block with a K substrate and at least one lysine group, wherein the Q and K blocks are crosslinked and both blocks include a random coil protein substrate and a bioactive substrate to which cancerous cells have an affinity. This hydrogel treatment for cancer is capable of isolating pathogenic cells without the side effects created by chemotherapy and other cancer treatments.
An unexpected discovery regarding the ability of one compound to stimulate hair regrowth in subjects led to the technology disclosed by U.S. Patent No. 8877712, which is titled Use of Del-1 in Hair, Bone and Cartilage Regeneration. The patent protects a method for treating degenerative osteoarthritis by reducing chondrocyte apoptosis and inducing chondrocyte differentiation at a site affected by osteoarthritis by providing a composition including an isolated developmental endothelial locus-1 (Del-1) protein at the affected site. This use of Del-1 has shown the ability to treat osteoarthritis, improve recovery from bone fractures and even encourage the regrowth of hair lost after a wound or surgical procedure.
Parents seeking a non-invasive form of prenatal testing for determining characteristics of a fetus are at the center of U.S. Patent No. 8877442, entitled Non-Invasive Determination of Fetal Inheritance of Parental Haplotypes at the Genome-Wide Scale. The method of non-invasively determining parental haplotypes inherited by a fetus claimed here involves obtaining a maternal sample from a pregnant female which contains DNA from the female and the fetus, determining a parentally inherited haplotype through the use of a microfluidic device and determining a maternally inherited haplotype through a chromosomal analysis. This invention seeks to support the clinical implementation of prenatal genome mapping by improving the knowledge of haplotype information through a system much more affordable for clinical use.
Patent Applications of Note: More Medical Innovations for Treating PTSD, Parkinson’s and Cancers
Medical technologies were also a large focus of the patent applications filed by Stanford with the USPTO in recent months, including another series of innovations targeting disorders of the nervous system. U.S. Patent Application No. 20140350327, titled Device and Method for Interfering With Sympathetic Chain Signaling for Attenuating Hot Flashes, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Pain and Dysautonomia, would protect a device for attenuating symptoms in a subject suffering from a sympathetic nervous system disturbance, the device containing an interface for interfering with sympathetic chain signaling at cervical or thoracic levels, an actuator for modulating sympathetic chain signaling and a power source for the actuator. This invention provides a non-hormonal treatment option for sympathetic nervous system disorders that can impact an individual’s ability to socialize by using electricity or magnetic forces to interfere with disturbances of the sympathetic nervous system. Techniques for handling patients suffering from a truly devastating degenerative disorder are the focus of U.S. Patent Application No. 20150023877, which is titled Methods of Parkinsons Disease Diagnosis and Monitoring Treatment. The method of diagnosing the presence of Parkinson’s disease in a subject claimed here involves administering to a patient a labeled probe with an affinity for neuromelanin present in the brain and detecting the amount of the labeled probe that appears in the patient’s brain. This invention tracks the presence of neuromelanin, an important biomarker for Parkinson’s disease, to diagnose patients and track the progression of the illness.
We also found a number of novel treatments for various forms of cancer reflected in Stanford’s recently filed patent applications. In 2012, 37,390 pancreatic cancer patients died out of a total of 43,920 diagnosed cases, but that fatality rate could be addressed by the technology detailed within U.S. Patent Application No. 20150018725, filed under the title Systems and Methods for Treating Pancreatic Cancer. The method of treating pancreatic cancer claimed here involves inserting a device into a stomach or a duodenum, securing a portion of the device in a position relative to the stomach or duodenum and delivering ultrasonic energy from the device to treat a target site in a pancreas. This invention aims to increase the number of treatment options available to pancreatic cancer patients, a very small percentage of which are eligible for surgical procedures to remove cancerous tissues, especially important given the fact that pancreatic cancer isn’t as susceptible to radiation or chemotherapy as other cancers. Improved antibodies for the treatment of blood-borne cancers like leukemia are at the center of U.S. Patent Application No. 20140369924, which is titled Synergistic Anti-CD47 Therapy for Hematologic Cancers. This patent application claims a method for the treatment of a hematologic cancer in a patient by administering a synergistic combination of agents including a first agent that selectively blocks or inhibits CD47 and a second agent that selectively blocks or inhibits a second cancer-associated cell surface marker. This treatment is designed to inhibit the expression of CD47 which is used by leukemia and non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas to increase the clearance of cancer cells.
Biomedical devices that are implanted into a patient will have a wider range of applications thanks to the technology discussed within U.S. Patent Application No. 20140348894, which is titled Engineered Protein Coating for Medical Implants. This patent application would protect a bone interfacing medical implant that has a bone interfacing coating for promoting bone regeneration made up of an engineered protein containing an elastin-like structural domain and a cell-adhesive domain; the implant also comprises a medical implant with its surface covalently and directly bonded to the coating via photoreactive crosslinking. This innovation eliminates the need for applying bone cement to a patient during a surgical procedure to install a medical implant, like a dental implant or a joint prosthesis.
Stanford has also been busy at work developing effective treatments for the hepatitis C virus (HCV), as is evidenced by U.S. Patent Application No. 20150005362, which is titled Methods and Compositions for Reducing Viral Genome Amounts in a Target Cell. The method of modulating a viral genome amount in a target cell claimed here involves inhibiting the activity of a microRNA (miRNA) in the target cell. This system for introducing a miRNA inhibitory agent into a target cell has been found to provide an effective treatment for viral mediated disease conditions like HCV.
Finally, we’ll close today’s survey of Stanford’s recently filed patent applications with a look at an intriguing technology for fuel ignition in microelectromechanical (MEMS) systems, laid out within U.S. Patent Application No. 20150010870, filed under the title Optical Ignition of Fuels. The method of combustion claimed here involves introducing microparticles and nanoparticles formed of different materials into a combustion chamber and irradiating both with an optical source to ignite the microparticles. This technology enables fuel to be utilized by MEMS systems, which offer limited space and cannot contain spark plugs or pilot flames used by conventional fuel ignition systems.