DNA production patent awarded to two UH-related engineers

October 21, 2003

HOUSTON--Two engineers with University of Houston affiliations have been awarded a U.S. patent for a new process for the separation and assay of biochemical cultures by compaction agents. The patent is expected to have a substantial impact on the production of DNA and other nucleic acids, a multi-million dollar enterprise.

U.S. Patent 6,605,470 was granted to Richard C. Willson, III, an associate professor of chemical engineering at the University of Houston, and Jason Murphy, who earned a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from UH in 2002. Their patent is the first in a proposed series covering these techniques, separations, assays and biochemical devices.

Willson said the newly patented technique permits the production of purified DNA without the need for nucleases or proteases that can contaminate product and complicate cleanup in conventional separations.

The patent was acquired with the assistance of Technology Licensing, which will handle commercialization and licensing of the resulting products. TLC, in conjunction with the UH Office of Intellectual Property Management, will offer licenses to biochemical product manufacturers and kit manufacturing groups.

"We hope that this patenting will expand the opportunities to improve quality and reduce costs by encouraging others to market the necessary kits and invest in in-house equipment to produce high-purity biochemical products worldwide," said Richard C. Willson, Jr., managing director of TLC.

"This is another impressive example of the important and innovative research that the university is involved in," said Arthur Vailas, UH vice president for research and intellectual property management. "We look forward to our continuing relationship with TLC in realizing the commercial value of Professor Willson's and Dr. Murphy's patent."

Willson, who earned a Ph.D. from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has been a member of the UH faculty since 1988. Murphy is currently employed by Merck doing chemical research.

For more information about Professor Willson, visit the Web site http://www.chee.uh.edu/faculty/willson/.
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About Technology Licensing Co. LLC Technology Licensing Co. LLC is a deliberately small technology licensing organization that focuses on a few sophisticated inventions (chemical engineering, catalysis, biotechnology, neurology) in which it has acquired partial ownership interests. Managing Director Richard C. Willson, Jr. (B.Ch.E., Johns Hopkins, J.D. Temple Law) has transferred technology as Trademark and Technology Counsel for Ashland Petroleum and Marathon Oil, in Unipol polyolefin licensing for Union Carbide and as an adviser to Middle Eastern governments.

About the University of Houston The University of Houston, Texas' premier metropolitan research and teaching institution, is home to more than 40 research centers and institutes and sponsors more than 300 partnerships with corporate, civic and governmental entities. UH, the most diverse research university in the country, stands at the forefront of education, research and service with more than 35,000 students.

For more information about UH visit the university's Newsroom at www.uh.edu/admin/media/newsroom

University of Houston

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