The University of California at San Diego and Boehringer Mannheim Corp. have formed a joint venture for the research and development of materials for gene therapy and molecular diagnostic tests.
Such therapies and tests can be used to identify and treat scores of diseases by correcting malfunctioning genes.
The university and the Indianapolis-based U.S. division of the Dutch pharmaceutical giant have formed a limited liability company called Molecular Medicine to manufacture and distribute the gene-therapy material and tests. Research and development will occur at an existing laboratory on campus. Boehringer is investing an initial $4.5 million in the venture, while the university is contributing laboratory equipment. A management committee has been appointed by both organizations to oversee operations.
"The role of the (company) will be to accelerate the output of both academic research and industrial development toward social benefit in the form of treatment and monitoring of diseases," said Dennert O. Ware, chief executive officer and president of Boehringer Mannheim's U.S. operations.
Unlike myriad other joint ventures between academia and industry, this one is unique for the University of California because a product is being produced and sold as a result of the joint research, said Charles Prussak, Molecular Medicine's president. Prussak was previously director of the clinical applications laboratory for UCSD's gene-therapy program.
"As such, we're a poster child for the rest of the university system," said Prussak, who noted that other University of California campuses will be paying close attention to the venture's success.
Prussak would not make any revenue projections for the new company. He added that the university's share of proceeds, which because of its not-for-profit status would be tax free, likely would be reinvested in continued genetics research.