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UT Austin Displays Significant Inventions for Regents

Two of The University of Texas at Austin's significant inventions were highlighted for the Technology Transfer and Research Committee of the University of Texas Systems Board of Regents at an Aug. 24, 2011 meeting.

Both inventions bring significant benefits to society and revenue to the university, said Richard Miller, the chief commercialization officer of The University of Texas at Austin.

One invention returned an effective abuse deterrent pain medication to the market after it was demonstrated that the currently marketed product was susceptible to abuse. The other has provided manufacturers with safe, reliable and rechargeable batteries for a range of products from cell phones to hybrid vehicles.

They are two of dozens of faculty-invented technologies the university has licensed in the past decade. Licensing revenue grew to nearly $26 million in 2010-2010 from less than $2 million in 1999-2000.

Dr. McGinity James McGinity, a professor in the College of Pharmacy, along with his graduate student, Feng Zhang, developed a polymer-based formulation that makes oxycontin, a pain medication, more difficult to abuse.

The drug substance in oxycontin is a powerful narcotic agent and problems arose when people crushed oxycontin and other solid dosage forms containing oxycodone into a powder that can then be further manipulated by the abuser.

The reformulated oxycontin products have the drug embeded into a polymer making it more difficult to tamper with the product. The technology was originally unveiled in a 2000 dissertation by Feng Zhang, a Ph.D. student who worked with McGinity to develop the technology.  Zhang received the Outstanding Dissertation Award in the Division of Engineering and Materials Sciences from UT in 2000.   He and McGinity are listed as co-inventors of the patent.  Zhang is employed by Gilead Sciences in Foster City, California.

The reformulated oxycontin products, sold through licensee Purdue Pharma, a privately held company based in Stamford, Conn., is the only approved abused deterrent version of oxycodone on the market, according to Miller.  The university receives a percentage of revenues on the sale of the drug.

Dr. GoodenoughJohn Goodenough, professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering in the Cockrell School of Engineering, developed materials technology for lithium-ion batteries. A pioneer in finding materials for batteries, his decades of research have been recognized with the Japan Prize and the Enrico Fermi Prize.

"His technology is in the pocket of everybody in this room," Miller told the committee and audience, referring to cell phones powered by lithium-ion batteries. The technology also is used in electronics from batteries from laptop computers to hybrid engine vehicles.

The technology has been licensed to Hydro-Quebec, a public utility in Canada. The agreement called for an upfront payment of eight figures and a double-digit percentage of royalty payments from the sublicenses, Miller said at the meeting.

About five companies have sublicensed the technology from Hydro-Quebec, according to Miller.

Demonstrating the scope of the university's inventions, Miller turned from engineering to pharmacy.

 "Not only are these generating a significant amounts of money but they both represent really important breakthroughs in their respective fields," Miller said.

Last Reviewed: September 12, 2011

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