StressTech Biomedical Inc. (STB), a fledgling biopharmaceuticalcompany in San Francisco, is in line to acquire an exclusive,worldwide license to human heat-shock transcriptional factors.Carl Wu, chief of developmental biochemistry at the NationalCancer Institute, is the inventor of the pending patent.

An announcement by the National Institutes of Health's Officeof Technology Transfer (OTT) in the Federal Register on Jan. 14stipulated that the royalty-bearing license "will be limited tothe fields of commercial screening assay services and kitsprovided to third parties." The invention covers novelactivators for human heat-shock factors, polynucleotidesencoding them and corresponding antibodies.

Wu told BioWorld that the molecule, which regulates cellularresponse to chemical as well as thermal stresses, "may be usedto assay for the stressed tissues in certain pathological states,such as ischemia, oxidant injury, hypertrophy, fever,inflammation and cell damage."

Unless substantive objections reach OTT by mid-March -- 60days after the Federal Register notice was published -- therights earmarked for STB will be finalized, OTT told BioWorld.

Meanwhile, the agency last week signed a separate, non-exclusive and non-overlapping licensing agreement withAffinity Biotech Inc. of Boothwyn, Pa., conferring rights to otheraspects of the factor. Affinity's director of businessdevelopment, Karen Padgett, said the company intends tomarket antibodies to the molecule as research reagents.

Schaeffer Price, STB's president, prefers not to disclose thecommercial applications his company would develop ifawarded the exclusive license. He noted that the transcriptionfactors "control the synthesis of heat shock proteins involved inprotein synthesis, translocation and chaperoning.

"We are looking for venture capital," he added, "which wouldenable us to accept and apply the exclusive licensingopportunity if it is offered to us by NIH." -- David N. Leff

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