San Antonio Express News: Teaching San Antonio researchers to turn brain power into market powerApril 15, 2019
By Laura Garcia, Staff writer
Local researchers are dissecting the tiny brains of genetically modified fruit flies, looking for the key to understanding how Alzheimer’s disease progresses.
A team of scientists at a UT Health San Antonio research lab are using the flies to test whether a drug that’s been approved for HIV and hepatitis B could be used to prevent the disease, which strips away a person’s memory and erodes the ability to think.
If their work pans out, assistant professor Bess Frost, who’s leading the team, hopes to push the innovation into the marketplace. But the odds are against her.
Frost will have to figure out whether her findings can be commercialized, keeping in mind that drugs intended to combat Alzheimer’s have an almost 100 percent failure rate in clinical trials.
And if she decides to move ahead, she’ll have to ask herself: Will she be able to license her work to one of the big pharmaceutical companies? Or should she consider starting her own company with the help of investors?
Frost is one of hundreds of faculty investigators at UT Health San Antonio in the South Texas Medical Center who are grappling with questions that are essentially about business — something most researchers aren’t prepared for.
She’s turned to UT Health’s Office of Technology Commercialization to determine whether her fruit fly research has commercial appeal as intellectual property.
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