Oct 062008
Authors: Johnny Hart

Further bolstering the university’s branded “Supercluster” concepts, MicroRx, the commercial branch for CSU’s research on infectious disease, recently struck a deal to bring antibodies to campus to investigate possible cures for conditions like West Nile Virus and even the Bubonic Plague.

Maine Biotechnology Services will provide the Infectious Disease Supercluster with antibodies, which mark foreign cells in the body for destruction, so that scientists my research their effects on antigens, foreign cells that evoke an immune system reaction.

Antibody research could lead to the prevention or cure of many diseases like West Nile virus, yellow fever and Hantavirus, of which CSU is among the world’s leaders in research, according to a university press release.

“These antibodies in the hands of researchers could be used as tools to possibly prevent (viruses and diseases),” said Terry Opgenorth, chief operating officer for MicroRx.

Rodman Tompkins, a business development associate for MicroRx, said antibody cell line creation can cost up to $15,000, but researchers can now afford the expensive price tag because of this new agreement.

“It has the potential to be a great agreement for the university,” Tompkins said, adding that the university is “really excited.”

“It’s really convenient,” he said.

Researchers will submit proposals to MBS requesting a line of antibodies to go with their antigens, and the company will then decide if the product of the research would be commercially viable.

Tompkins said the antibodies would be free to researchers if MBS can use the result as a commercial product. If not commercially viable, the researchers could get the antibodies at a “significantly reduced price.”

Also, if the research leads to a marketable product, MBS will pay 2 percent royalties to the scientists involved.

“We have already received six or seven e-mails from professors who are interested,” Tompkins said.

Assistant News Editor Johnny Hart can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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