Friday, September 10th, 2010
A novel method of characterising lipid molecules (fats) developed by University of Wollongong researchers has been granted a patent by the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Invented by researchers within the Schools of Chemistry and Health Sciences, the method of Ozone Induced Dissociation (known as "OzID") provides detailed information about molecular structure that is unavailable from traditional methods of mass spectrometry (converting particles into ions).

As UOW’s research commercialisation partner, UniQuest has played a key role in helping the scientific team reach this milestone and attract further interest in OzID’s development from industry partners.

"OzID first harnesses the power of mass spectrometry to separate one compound out of literally hundreds on the basis of mass, then uses ozone like a pair of molecular scissors to cut the molecule at a particular position, namely a double bond. This allows us to unambiguously assign the structure of the compound and importantly differentiate molecules that differ only by the position of their double bonds," said OzID co-inventor Associate Professor Stephen Blanksby.

"Examples of molecules where this analysis will be particularly useful are lipids where the double bond position, usually labelled as omega-3, omega-6, etc, can have a dramatic effect on nutritional or physiological properties."

OzID has been performance-trialled in a research collaboration between UOW and AB Sciex, a company which specialises in life science analytical technologies. Findings from this research have been accepted for publication in the Journal of The American Society for Mass Spectrometry, the peak journal in the field.

"Obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and several forms of cancer have all been linked to altered lipid metabolism." said Dr Todd Mitchell, another OzID researcher.

"Improving our understanding of the role of lipids in these illnesses may lead to better ways to prevent or manage such disease states."

UniQuest Managing Director, David Henderson, said the granting of a US patent gives the novel technology a significant boost in Intellectual Property value.

“US patents for Australian innovations not only give credence to the quality of research undertaken at our universities – they provide potential investors and licensees with confirmation that the commercial value of the idea is well-protected whilst the technology is being prepared for a world-wide market launch,” Mr Henderson said.

“We congratulate the University of Wollongong team on this milestone and look forward to facilitating the ongoing discussions between the researchers and various potential commercial partners to accelerate the transfer of this exciting new technique into patient outcomes.”

The granted US patent (US Patent No. 7,771,943) represents the first of a number of patent rights sought for this invention in major jurisdictions.

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UniQuest Pty Limited

Established by The University of Queensland in 1984, UniQuest is widely recognised as one of Australia’s largest and most successful university commercialisation groups, benchmarking in the top tier of technology transfer worldwide. From an intellectual property portfolio of 1,500+ patents it has created over 60 companies, and since 2000 UniQuest and its start-ups have raised more than $400 million to take university technologies to market. Annual sales of products using UQ technology and licensed by UniQuest are running at $3 billion. UniQuest now commercialises innovations developed at The University of Queensland and its commercialisation partner institutions: the University of Wollongong, University of Technology Sydney, James Cook University, University of Tasmania, Mater Medical Research Institute, and Queensland Health. UniQuest also provides access to an expansive and exclusive network of independent academics to tailor a consulting or project R&D solution to meet the diverse needs of industry and government, facilitating some 500 consulting, expert opinion, testing, and contract research services each year.

UniQuest is also a leading Australasian provider of international development assistance recognised for excellence in technical leadership, management and research. Working with agencies such as AusAID, NZAID, the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank, UniQuest has developed and implemented more than 400 projects in 46 countries throughout the Pacific, South-East Asia, the Indian sub-continent and Africa.

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Gavin Dixon

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UniQuest, University of Wollongong, lipids, molecular, mass spectrometry



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