Looking to Cure Muscular Dystrophy

Approximately 600 boys are born Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophy every year. Muscular dystrophy causes the muscles of affected children to tear and the body is unable to repair these torn muscles. As the diseases progresses it can eventually affect the child’s diaphragm and heart. This disease is severely debilitating and significantly reduces the life of people with the disease.

Dean Burkin Ph.D., of the UNR School of Medicine, has been developing a simple and effective treatment for Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophy through the use of a protein known as Laminin-111. Laminin-111 can be injected in the affected patient and the protein is absorbed in the muscles through out the body. The protein surounds the muscles to create and promotes the creation of inagren which repairs the muscle.

Dean began his research related to muscular dystrophy while conducting post doctorate work at the University of Illinois with Steven Kaufman. In 2003 Dean moved to the University of Nevada Reno to start and direct the new Transgenic Center. Steven Kaufman retired soon after Dean moved to UNR and Dean ended up taking over Steven’s research. Since taking over Steven’s research, Dean has utilized the UNR Transgenic Center in-order to make large strides towards bringing Laminin-111 to market.

In tests on lab mice with Duchene and Becker muscular dystrophy, Dean has seen positive signs the Laminin-111 is affective in both preventing the affects of the disease and repairing muscle that has already been damaged from the disease. As explained in The American Journal of Pathology, mice with the disease that go untreated show weight loss, loss of grooming, joint contractures, and peripheral neuropathy after 10 weeks. Mice with the disease treated with laminin-111 lived 3.5 times longer, were still groomed, maintained their weight, and showed little signs of peripheral neuropathy after 60 weeks.

As Dean has continued seeing positive results from his testing of the protein he started working with pharmaceutical companies to continue research and eventually bring the treatment to market. Dean is also currently working on a number of the compounds that may help laminin-111 work more effectively.

Dean’s biggest challenges currently is finding a way to create a dosage large enough to be used on human patients. Dean believes this will be challenge that he along with industry collaborators will be able to overcome. In-order to produce the larger dosage of Laminin-111 to treat humans Dean is looking for additional financial backing.

 The patent for Laminin-111 was issued in June 2012.

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Nevada is Fighting Anthrax

The threat of Anthrax attacks, especially against government officials, has been significant for over ten years. Currently a blood culture must be taken in-order to determine whether someone has been infected with Anthrax. Blood cultures generally take three or four days at which point it may be too late for the infected person to receive treatment. Because of the current time constraints of current Anthrax testing methods, if a group of people are suspected of being infected with Anthrax, they must all be treated for Anthrax. The current treatment for Anthrax is both very costly and is hard on the human body.

Thomas KozelThe University of Nevada, Reno was recently granted a patent that describes a significantly quicker and more cost effective method to determine whether someone has been infected with Anthrax. Kozel’s method works similar to a pregnancy test where a small blood sample is placed on a strip. Within ten minutes it can be determined whether the individual is infected with Anthrax. In addition to being much quicker than a blood culture, Kozel’s method is considerably more cost effective. When a group is suspected of being infected with Anthrax, Kozel’s method allows everyone to be tested for Anthrax and only those who are actually infected will be treated.

Thomas Kozel has been studying microbial products at the University of Nevada for 45 years. In 2002 do to the growing fear of terrorist attacks, Kozel found himself interested in researching Anthrax. Through his research he found that the Anthrax microbe has an outer layer that breaks down and is released into the blood stream. Kozel developed his method not by detecting the Anthrax microbe itself, but by detecting remnants of this outer layer.

The Technology Transfer Office in Norther Nevada along with Thomas Kozel are working with the FDA so that they can licence out the patent for diagnosing an Anthrax infection. The issued patent patents are #7,682,796 and #8,192,720.  Kozel hopes that these strips for detecting Anthrax will eventually be housed in the United States bio defense stock pile.

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Technology transfer puts research to work and to market

One of the key ways that higher education can engage the business community and contribute to economic development in Nevada is by helping technology developed through research reach the public and the marketplace. Gov. Brian Sandoval’s recently released economic development plan for Nevada recognized this. Specifically, it identified the need to advance knowledge-based industries through partnerships with higher education. The plan seeks to promote innovation and technology commercialization in partnership with the Nevada System of Higher Education. The University of Nevada, Reno’s Technology Transfer Office, a joint office with DRI, is working to facilitate economic development, including the new goals set in the state’s plan. more…

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University of Nevada, Reno research office adds key personnel to technology transfer office

RENO, Nev. – The University of Nevada, Reno Office of Research has added Dan Langford as Manager of Industry Partnerships for the Technology Transfer Office. more…

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Program matches researchers, industry to develop new technologies for Nevada

With its new Industry/Faculty Partnering Clinic, the Technology Transfer Office for the University of Nevada, Reno and DRI is engaging the community in the work of scientists to help develop new technologies for Nevada.

The new clinic is one of three programs the TTO has instituted to engage the community in an effort to enhance technology transfer, economic development, and the relationship between the institutions and the local business community. Tech transfer is the practice of transferring scientific findings from one organization to another for further development so that new products or processes in such areas, for example, as medicine, educational tools, electronic devices or renewable energy can become available to the public. more…

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