News Article

University of Nevada, Reno muscular dystrophy work featured in "Better World Report": Tech Transfer Office inks licensing deal with Prothelia for development of new therapy
Date: Feb 03, 2011
Author: press release
Source: University of Nevada, Reno ( click here to go to the source)

Featured firm in this article: Prothelia Inc of Milford, MA

RENO, Nev. -- Pharmacology researcher Dean Burkin's successful work on a treatment for muscular dystrophy and the partnership created between the University of Nevada, Reno and Prothelia, Inc. to develop it, is featured in the latest "Better World Report." The research gives new hope to patients who suffer from Duchenne muscular dystrophy, the most common form of MD.

The Better World Report is an annual publication by the Association of University Technology Managers, an international non-profit organization. It's a collection of inspirational stories from academic research that positively impact quality of life.

"The annual publication profiles about 30 stories selected from research institutions across the country that they felt were making the world a better place," Ryan Heck, Technology Transfer Office director at the University of Nevada, Reno said. "I'm pleased that our story submission for Dean Burkin's work was one of those selected for the publication."

Burkin's work on a therapy for muscular dystrophy led to a patent for laminin-111, a naturally occurring protein in the body that Burkin's research shows was quickly picked up in the bloodstream of mice and prevented muscle damage, an important finding for MD therapy. The University's Tech Transfer Office has licensed the patent for laminin-111 to Prothelia, a Boston biotech company. Prothelia is in the process of making a human version of the protein for further testing and clinical trials.

Prothelia's founder, Brad Hodges, was a colleague of Burkin's earlier in the two scientists' careers. Hodges said laminin-111 is at the top of his company's list for development.

"It could be in just a few months that we'll have something for human clinical trials to see if it works as well as it does in the animal models, Burkin said. "This could be an IV drug for the patients if the work in the mouse models that we've been using translates to human studies. These patients have been waiting a long time for therapies to come about and I think we're at the cusp now."

Since laminin-111 is a naturally occurring protein that occurs in the body before birth, Burkin said there is a better likelihood that it would not be rejected by the human body.

"Theoretically, laminin-111 protein therapy should be able to treat all patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy," he said.

Burkin's work, which is funded by the National Institutes of Health, has also been featured on the website, ScienCentral ( His work was published in the early online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences the week of April 20-24, as well as the January 2009 edition of American Journal of Pathology.

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Photo Cutline: Dean Burkin, associate professor of pharmacology at the University of Nevada, Reno's School of Medicine is working with Prothelia, Inc. through a patent licensing agreement to develop a therapy for muscular dystrophy. Photo by Laura Levin.

Nevada's land-grant university founded in 1874, the University of Nevada, Reno has an enrollment of more than 17,000 students. The University is home to one the country's largest study-abroad programs and the state's medical school, and offers outreach and education programs in all Nevada counties. For more information, visit

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