Contact: Amanda F. Johnson, AFJohnso@utmck.edu, 865-305-9190
For Immediate Release:
April 15, 2009
Knoxville, TENN -- Two researchers at the University of Tennessee Graduate School of Medicine, Knoxville, received patents from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for medical research that will improve the study of and search for cure for Huntington’s and other neurological disorders and will improve methods for using radioisotopes in nuclear medicine.
Valerie Berthelier, Assistant Professor and Director of the Conformational Diseases and Therapeutics Research lab, UT Graduate School of Medicine, developed new methods to study particular inherited neurological disorders, including Huntington’s disease. The invention will help researchers analyze specific proteins known to be associated with these devastating disorders and could lead to the development of new treatments or cures. Analogously to the situation in Alzheimer’s disease, in Huntington’s disease and seven other polyglutamine disorders, the disease protein forms insoluble protein aggregates that are toxic to neurons.
“Due to this development, we were able to identify a small number of promising compounds that affect protein aggregate formation,” said Dr. Berthelier.
George Kabalka, PhD, Robert H. Cole Distinguished Professor of Neuroscience, Director of Basic Science Research Department of Radiology, UT Graduate School of Medicine, received a patent for new methods for incorporating short-lived radioisotopes in molecules of use in nuclear medicine and biology. Short-lived radioisotopes are required by new nuclear medicine imaging techniques, such as positron emission tomography and single photon tomography.
“The methods described in the patent offer entirely new approaches to preparing radiopharmaceuticals for use in nuclear medicine imaging. The advantages of the new methodology are that the pharmaceutical precursors have shelf lives of years and can be used in radiopharmacy ‘kits’ that provide for simple purification of the final pharmaceutical product,” said Dr. Kabalka.
awarded for unique technologies and ideas and serve to protect inventions that
can benefit society. The process for receiving a patent is lengthy and
difficult: fewer than 10 percent of the discoveries made at the
“The success of
our researchers is an attestation to how seriously we take our commitment to
serving our community,” said James J. Neutens, PhD,
Kabalka are among 20
UTRF President and CEO Fred Tompkins said the scientists responsible for the research that makes it through this process are among the most innovative and dedicated individuals in the university system. “Awarded patents are an indication of the innovative people and programs at the university,” Tompkins said.
Not only do patents benefit the university through external funding, but they also have the potential to stimulate economic development through the generation of licensing revenues, which can be the basis for starting new companies.
The remaining scientists who were honored include 11 researchers from UT Knoxville and seven researchers from the UT Institute of Agriculture (UTIA).
The University of
Tennessee Graduate School of Medicine in
This study quantifies the economic impact of the UTHSC on the economy of the state of Tennessee for FY2010.
920 Madison Avenue
Memphis, TN 38163
Phone: (901) 448-5544
Fax: (901) 448-8640