Technology invented at Yale and developed further by a Yale alumnus at BIOS Laboratories, Inc. -- located in Science Park adjacent to the campus -- is expected to play a key role in providing patients worldwide with an early-stage check for cancers and infectious diseases such as AIDS.
The technology is a revolutionary DNA sequencing process known as CAS. This technique combines and replaces the many individual steps conventionally used for reading DNA sequences into one simple process, BIOS officials say.
A major alliance has been announced between BIOS Laboratories and Visible Genetics, Inc. (VGI), a public company based in Toronto, Canada. VGI manufactures genetic diagnostic equipment. The agreement between the two companies will match CAS with VGI's knowledge of genetic sequencing systems for genes linked to diseases.
The announcement was made by Dr. Gualberto Ruano, chief executive officer at BIOS. Mr. Ruano first invented CAS while a graduate student at Yale. He later extensively developed the technique a few blocks from the Yale campus at BIOS. Mr. Ruano is an alumnus of the Medical Scientists Training Program at the School of Medicine.
"CAS is a great story of how a new technology born out of Yale research has made its way to the commercial marketplace," says Mr. Ruano. "In this case, Yale genetics research stimulates a technological innovation at BIOS which today is disseminated as a clinical diagnostic tool."
Under the terms of the alliance, VGI will purchase the exclusive diagnostic rights to CAS, and will pay BIOS to integrate the process with VGI software and hardware under a sponsored research agreement. In exchange, BIOS will receive cash payments, VGI shares and a royalty on diagnostic tests sold using the CAS technology. Yale stands to gain royalties on the level of test sales, too. The pact will run the length of the 15-year life of the United States patent BIOS holds on the technology.
"The financial impact of this partnership is significant and validates the commercial value of the research conducted at BIOS," says BIOS Executive Vice President Kevin Rakin. "We'll be announcing additional alliances, a site expansion, several prominent additions to our board of directors and a corporate name change."
"I am very encouraged with BIOS' most recent success in commercializing technology it has licensed from Yale," says Greg Gardiner, director of the University's Office of Cooperative Research. "In a very real sense, BIOS' success is Yale's, Science Park's and New Haven's success as well. Yale will continue to look to Science Park and companies within Science Park as possible partners in commercializing some of the innovations coming from faculty research laboratories."
All rights to CAS were licensed from Yale to BIOS in 1992. In 1994, BIOS was awarded a major grant from The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease to further develop CAS. A year later, United States patent #5,427,911 was issued and assigned to Yale. VGI, which is already selling its fully integrated systems, is considered a front-runner in getting FDA approval to offer cost effective clinical results of DNA sequencing to the U.S. market.
Several BIOS advisors are Yale faculty members, including Frank Ruddle, Sterling Professor of Biology, and David Ward, acting chair of genetics.
Complex chemistry has been a major barrier in development of the molecular diagnostic market, BIOS officials say. The partnership between BIOS and VGI will allow users to obtain results quickly, and at lower cost, compared to conventional DNA sequencing systems.