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  5. Novel collaboration links pharmaceutical expertise in Wisconsin, Taiwan

Novel collaboration links pharmaceutical expertise in Wisconsin, Taiwan

John Kao.

In a ceremony in San Diego on Tuesday, June 24, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a world leader in biomedicine, will sign an agreement to collaborate with the Development Center for Biotechnology (DCB), a Taiwanese biotech non-profit.

The agreement exhibits UW-Madison's commitment to identifying global opportunities and partnerships for mutually beneficial collaborations in the areas of drug and bioscience.

The signing will be held at the BIO International Convention, with Taiwan's Minister without Portfolio Chiang Been-Huang and members from the Wisconsin delegation, including the UW-Madison Office of Corporate Relations and Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.

"This collaboration came out of a meeting between a UW-Madison delegation and DCB in Taiwan in 2012," says John Kao, associate dean of the Division of International Studies and Vilas Distinguished Professor of biomedical engineering. Kao was a member of that UW-Madison delegation and is also an executive director of Institute of Clinical and Translational Research at UW-Madison. "DCB has expertise in candidate-drug development, and are very excited about this UW-Madison technology, so they want to partner with us to do more research," he adds.

The parties will spend two years speeding the development of neocarzionstatin, a compound that is showing great potential against liver cancer. The collaboration will advance a drug-delivery technology that has been pioneered by Glen Kwon, a professor of pharmacy at UW-Madison. Kwon is exploring whether a complex chemical vehicle can better deliver neocarzionstatin to the liver tumor site.

DCB will analyze the drug delivery mechanism, perform critical animal testing, and contribute $127,987 to UW-Madison during the two-year collaboration. The rights of each party to license jointly developed technologies are spelled out in today's agreement.

Cost is a driving consideration in biomedical research, Kao says. "In the pharmaceutical industry, it takes about 15 years, and almost $2 billion, to get a drug to the market, and the odds are one in 10,000 that any particular new candidate will turn into a marketable product. WARF (the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation) has been very successful in licensing and supporting innovations from campus, but the industry is changing, and the university needs to be better positioned to move innovations to a later stage where a pharmaceutical company will want to license them."

Other collaborations are in early stage of discussions, Kao says. "We have always billed ourselves as a world university, and we need to respond to a changing global landscape," he says.

With a new openness to partnerships from around the world, Kao says, "We are clearly establishing UW-Madison as a player on the world stage in collaborations in bioscience and technology development."

Kari Schrage
6/19/2014