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DNA production patent awarded to two UH-related engineers

HOUSTON-Two engineers with University of Houston affiliations have been awarded a U.S. patent for a new process for the separation and assay of biochemical cultures by compaction agents. The patent is expected to have a substantial impact on the production of DNA and other nucleic acids, a multi-million dollar enterprise.

U.S. Patent 6,605,470 was granted to Richard C. Willson, III, an associate professor of chemical engineering at the University of Houston, and Jason Murphy, who earned a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from UH in 2002. Their patent is the first in a proposed series covering these techniques, separations, assays and biochemical devices.

Willson said the newly patented technique permits the production of purified DNA without the need for nucleases or proteases that can contaminate product and complicate cleanup in conventional separations.

The patent was acquired with the assistance of Technology Licensing, which will handle commercialization and licensing of the resulting products. TLC, in conjunction with the UH Office of Intellectual Property Management, will offer licenses to biochemical product manufacturers and kit manufacturing groups.

"We hope that this patenting will expand the opportunities to improve quality and reduce costs by encouraging others to market the necessary kits and invest in in-house equipment to produce high-purity biochemical products worldwide," said Richard C. Willson, Jr., managing director of TLC.

"This is another impressive example of the important and innovative research that the university is involved in," said Arthur Vailas, UH vice president for research and intellectual property management. "We look forward to our continuing relationship with TLC in realizing the commercial value of Professor Willson's and Dr. Murphy's patent."

Willson, who earned a Ph.D. from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has been a member of the UH faculty since 1988. Murphy
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Contact: Lisa Merkl
lkmerkl@uh.edu
713-743-8192
University of Houston
21-Oct-2003


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