Research into herpes vaccine among seven new biotechnologies available for licensing


by Tracy Ellig, MSU News Service, 6 Oct 2006

A genetically modified strain of the herpes virus with potential as a human vaccine is among seven new biotechnologies faculty at Montana State University have developed.

Interested companies and entrepreneurs can license the new biotechnologies by contacting Nick Zelver with the MSU Technology Transfer Office at (406) 994-7868, or by e-mail at MSU requests that interest be expressed in writing by Nov. 15.

Mice vaccinated with a live, genetically-modified herpes simplex virus showed no sign of the disease 30 days after being exposed to a lethal "wild-type" strain of herpes simplex virus, the MSU study showed.

In contrast, a second group of mice that received a more conventional vaccine died within six days of being exposed to the "wild-type" strain of herpes simplex virus.

The research has potential for a human vaccine against the herpes simplex viruses that cause recurrent diseases such as cold sores, genital herpes, and ocular herpes. The research is promising, but further work is needed to advance a human vaccine to clinical trials.

The other technologies available for licensing include:

A compound with the potential to improve biocides, fungicides, anti-biofilm agents and other antimicrobial disinfectants.

The compound - a dendrimer functionalized quaternary ammonium - could potentially be used in household disinfectants and paints or incorporated into hard surfaces. It could also be used in hospitals and other industries requiring broad disinfection and has a potential for treatment of surfaces exposed to a bio-terrorist attack.

The compound interacts directly with a microorganism to disrupt its cell wall. In effect, the cell wall is exposed to a greater concentration of biocide than in traditional applications.

A mathematical model that assists computer programs in predicting the best use of a microbe. Many microbes are used as miniature factories to produce useful products, such as biofuels, drugs, foods or even to clean up harmful substances. Typically, time-consuming lab experimentation is required to find the best way to make a microbial factory work. Computer programs can help shorten, or eliminate, that process.

Compounds that show promise as treatments for anthrax toxins. Although anthrax can be effectively treated with antibiotics when caught early on, it is almost always fatal once it starts producing toxins. These compounds may be able to save lives even after the toxins are produced.

A system that could potentially produce commercial quantites of very pure lysyl oxidase, a protein important in work with tissue engineering, wound healing and collagen production. Collagen is a protein found in bones, tendons, ligaments and skin.

MSU's Center for Bio-Inspired Nanomaterials has developed a suite of technologies that exploit hollow protein cages. The cages can be used to deliver cargos of molecular building blocks for a broad range of nanotechnology applications. The potential for this technology has been demonstrated with the development of catalytically enhanced hydrogen production, high density magnetic memory, targeted drug delivery, and diagnosis and treatment of biofilm infections.

To date, MSU has licensed 111 technologies developed by faculty. Seventy of those licenses are with Montana companies.

To access these and other MSU technologies, visit:

Contact: Nick Zelver, MSU Technology Transfer Office, (406) 994-7868 or