A vaccine for HIV. Nanoparticles. A topical ointment for sickle cell disease.
Those are just three examples of technologies discussed at a showcase held by the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research and the National Cancer Institute.
The transfer of medical technology from laboratories to the commercial sector through partnerships between those laboratories and companies is an important part of getting it out to the public. To facilitate transfers and to show what is on the market, the two cancer research bodies held a showcase Wednesday in Frederick.
The goal of scientists is to ultimately help the public, said Thomas Stackhouse, the director of NCI’s Technology Transfer Center. To do so, the NCI, and, by proxy, FNL since its intellectual property is part of the NCI’s portfolio, will work out licensing agreements with companies and startups to help fund the needed clinical trials or production for the technologies to make it to the public.
“We’re kind of that bridge between discovery and commercial property,” Stackhouse said.
The technology presented at the showcase focused on cancer and rarer diseases, since that falls under NCI’s mission. Technology included treatments, diagnostic tools or a combination.
FNL and NCI scientists discussed their technology, while postdoctoral fellows with the technology transfer ambassadors program gave poster presentations for technologies ready for transfer.
While the scientists present only about eight slides on their work, they will have spent years on the technology they discuss, Stackhouse said.
Mukta Nag, a post-doc in the AIDS and cancer program at FNL, presented a poster on a HIV vaccine created by Dr. George Pavlakis, at the NCI. Nag is part of the ambassador program, which gives post-docs the chance to do a deep dive into a technology on which they did not work.
The specific vaccine for HIV is a DNA vaccine, Nag said, and it uses a protein that is part of the virus. There are two ongoing clinical studies looking at the vaccine, which is both preventive and treatment.
With the transfer, Pavlakis and his laboratory look for someone to partner for co-development and licensing. Co-development would allow the vaccine to move to phase two trials, which are bigger.
Stackhouse said he was excited to see presentations on nanotechnology because it is relatively new and NCI helped to create nanotechnology labs.
Companies at the showcase were mostly from the D.C., Maryland and Virginia area, Stackhouse said. Maryland, with the National Institutes of Health, of which NCI is a part, is becoming a hub for early investors for health technology, said Vladimir Popov, director of FNL’s partnership development office.
FNL and the local drug companies also make Frederick a good place for biotechnology, Popov said.