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WARF signs stem cell agreement with California firm

Madison, Wis. - The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation has licensed the California immunological research firm Chemicon to commercialize research products using WARF's stem cell patents, Chemicon's parent company Serologicals announced Tuesday.

Chemicon will have non-exclusive access to WARF's portfolio of stem cell technologies, which were developed and patented through the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Jeff Linton, president of Chemicon, said the company would use the patented technology to advance its lines of embryonic stem cell reagents, media for developing stem cell cultures and genetic markers for stem cells.

"Human embryonic stem cell research was essentially discovered in Wisconsin, so they have the lion's share of the intellectual property," Linton said. "Beyond that, there's a lot of solid medical and scientific research being done in UW, so we see them as a world leader in that area."

WARF government and public relations manager Andrew Cohn said that by the terms of the deal, Chemicon will be able to use the patent portfolio - which includes the work of UW-Madison Professor Jamie Thomson, the first to isolate human embryonic stem cells - to develop reagents and media. The company cannot use the research to develop pharmaceuticals.
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"These are research tools, things that researchers use to move the science forward," Cohn said. "This gives them a pretty broad license, as long as it's research and not therapeutic."

The deal with Chemicon is the first commercial agreement made by WARF for its stem cell research roster. Cohn said that WARF will retain control of the patents and will receive licensing fees and royalties from the products Chemicon sells to researchers.

Linton said that the agreement with WARF will likely last as long as the life span of the relevant patents, and at that point both parties can decide whether to renew the agreement or not. He added that the agreement allows Chemicon to access all of WARF's stem cell patents, including those filed after the agreement signing.

The deal is the first of a licensing program with "new, flexible terms" which will allow WARF to get its patent listing into the market. Since the deal with Chemicon is nonexclusive, WARF is free to offer the rights to other biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies.

Cohn said that WARF is actively seeking new companies to partner with and hopes that Chemicon will be the first in a chain of partnerships. "We're excited about planning this new license and we hope new companies will recognize the market that exists out there," Cohn said.

Les Chappell is a writer for WTN based in Madison. He can be reached at les@wistechnology.com.

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