Two new and improved methods of developing antibiotics discovered at San Diego State University have been licensed to Merck Pharmaceuticals for $300,000, the largest technology transfer agreement so far for SDSU.
The technology, which uncovered hundreds of new essential genes and greatly enhances the ability to target those genes for new antibiotics, was developed by SDSU researchers Judith Zyskind and R. Allyn Forsyth. Zyskind, a professor at the time of the discoveries, is the director of the SDSU BioScience Center. Forsyth was a graduate student at the time of the discoveries and is now a Merck employee.
The license agreement gives Merck exclusive use of the technology for four years with a renewable option. SDSU still holds the two patents for the technology, and SDSU faculty and students also can use the technology for their projects.
“The emergence and global dissemination of antibiotic resistant pathogens has led to people dying from infectious diseases,” Zyskind said. “These discoveries strengthen the arsenal against infectious diseases by hastening the arrival of the next generation of antibiotics.”
Merck negotiated the license agreement through SDSU’s Technology Transfer Service Office. The SDSU Foundation established it in 1998 to facilitate and enhance the transfer of intellectual property, resources and information between the university and the private sector.
“The agreement with Merck is a perfect example of how sharing new, university-based technologies with forward-thinking businesses leads to advances that improve our lives – in this case in health care,” said Barry Janov, director of the SDSU technology transfer program.
Zyskind said BioScience Center researchers will use the technology to further investigate the emerging link between infectious diseases and the nation’s No. 1 killer – heart disease.
“Diseases such as athlerosclerosis and diabetes have been thought to result from lifestyle and genetic factors, but the latest information shows infectious diseases may be a significant risk factor,” Zyskind said. “That means developing new antibiotics could become more important for preventing disease in the future.”