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Gene screen patent leads to 'Deal of Distinction'

UChicagoTech, the University of Chicago's Office of Technology and Intellectual Property, has received a 2007 Deal of Distinction Award from the Licensing Executives Society of U.S.A. and Canada.

The award stems from an agreement signed in late 2005 between the University of Chicago and the Mayo Clinic. The deal licensed the UGT1A1 diagnostic screen that predicts a patient's risk of side effects from a standard first-line treatment for advanced cancers of the colon and rectum. Mark J. Ratain, M.D., the Leon O. Jacobson Professor of Medicine at the University of Chicago, and colleagues developed the UGT1A1 test.

UChicagoTech was the sole honoree in the industry-university-government transactions category. The society also presented Deal of Distinction Awards in four other categories. The awards were announced in connection with the LES annual meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, earlier this month.

Colorectal cancer is the fourth most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States, with more than 145,000 new cases each year. It accounts for nearly 60,000 deaths annually in this country alone. Many colorectal cancer patients receive a first-line treatment of irinotecan hydrochloride (Camptosar(r)). Still in its early phases of implementation, more than 5,000 patients are expected to receive the UGT1A1 test this year.

The UGT1A1 test lets doctors know in advance which patients will have severe side effects from the drug by revealing which patients have versions of a gene that helps metabolize the drug. Patients who are at risk receive reduced doses of irinotecan hydrochloride or are treated with other chemotherapy drugs.

"This is a living example of the new genetic personalized medicine at work," said Alan Thomas, Director of UChicagoTech.

Until the December 2005 deal between the University and Mayo Clinic, the UGT1A1 test had only been available to patients enrolled in studies at the University of Chicago. Through the licensing agreement, Mayo Clinic's reference laboratory, Mayo Medical Laboratories, made the test available to patients nationwide.

The Deal of Distinction Awards recognize transactions involving the licensing and transfer of intellectual property and creative and innovative solutions to business issues in contracts announced over the previous year. Awards are presented in five industry categories, including consumer products; chemicals, energy and materials; healthcare; and high technology.

"While a 2005 deal, the LES Deal of Distinction Award Committee supported this nomination given the element it felt was most distinctive, the promise by Mayo to broadly sublicense the intellectual property, was not completely fulfilled until 2006, when Mayo signed the first of several deals with several third parties," said the award citation. Revenue from Mayo Laboratories' testing and technology licensing supports medical education and research at Mayo Clinic.


Contact: Steve Koppes
University of Chicago

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