License Our Technology

This Is What Momentum Looks Like

The Office of Technology Management and Commercialization manages the Institute’s patent portfolio and oversees material transfer, confidential disclosure and inter-institutional agreements. Since Sanford-Burnham’s founding, technology management has resulted in more than 650 patents and generated more than 90 license agreements with strategic partners.

Technology developed at the Institute falls into these broad categories:

Therapeutics and diagnostics

Technologies, which are primarily useful to develop therapeutics and diagnostics and are often licensed exclusively.

Corporate sponsored research agreements

Corporate Sponsored Research Agreements (CSRA) which support a specific research project in the lab of one of our faculty and include an option to license any jointly developed technology that may be generated as a result of the collaboration along with underlying Institute technology.

Research tools

Research tools are licensed non-exclusively for research purposes only. These include antibodies, plasmids, transgenic mice, and biomarkers to name a few.

Start-Up Companies

Since 1987, 12 start-up companies have been formed around Sanford-Burnham technologies. Some of the recent emerging companies include:

Avatar Therapeutics

Avatar Therapeutics’ focus is on iPS cell programming using RNAi in diagnostics, therapeutics and organ toxicity. The San Diego-based company was founded by Tariq Rana, Ph.D., Director of Sanford-Burnham’s RNA biology program and professor at the Sanford Children’s Health Research Center.

CendR Inc.

CendR was co-founded by former Sanford-Burnham CEO and president Erkki Ruoslahti, M.D., Ph.D., and focuses on the peptide iRGD for oncology applications. The peptide has been shown to substantially increase treatment efficacy against human breast, prostate and pancreatic cancers in mice, achieving the same therapeutic effect as a normal dose with one-third the dosage.

ChemReGen Inc.

ChemReGen’s focus is on novel therapeutic and diagnostic reagents for cardiogenesis. The company is based in San Diego and was founded by Sanford-Burnham’s Mark Mercola, Ph.D., professor at Sanford Children’s Health Research Center and director of the Muscle Development and Regeneration Program. Read more.

Vala Sciences Inc.

Vala Sciences is a San Diego-based biotechnology company serving academic, pharmaceutical and biotechnology scientists. Vala’s hardware, CyteSeer automated cell image analysis software and reagents, enable information-rich measurements for making fundamentally new insights into the cell functions critical to progress in the biological sciences. Jeffrey H. Price, M.D., Ph.D., is founder, president and chief executive officer of Vala and associate professor at Sanford-Burnham’s NCI-designated cancer center. Read more.

Licensed Technologies

Sanford-Burnham scientists participate in more than 90 collaborative commercial and academic research agreements, including scientist-to-scientist and lab-to-lab partnerships, pharmaceutical collaborations, material transfer agreements and other research collaborations. Additionally, more than 90 technologies are currently licensed to commercial companies. Examples of these are:

Oncothyreon Inc.

In September 2011, Oncothyreon Inc. – a biotechnology company specializing in the development of innovative therapeutic products for the treatment of cancer – and Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute entered into an exclusive licensing agreement for sabutoclax, a pan-inhibitor of the Bcl-2 family of anti-apoptotic proteins currently in pre-clinical development. By blocking Bcl-2 protein function, sabutoclax induces apoptosis in tumor cells and increases the activity of chemotherapy. Sabutoclax was discovered as a result of research in the laboratories of Maurizio Pellecchia, Ph.D., and John C. Reed, M.D, Ph.D. at Sanford-Burnham.


EnduRx Pharmaceuticals is a start-up biotechnology company focused on utilizing its proprietary nanotechnology to efficiently and effectively target atherosclerotic plaques and tumor vasculature for both treatment and imaging applications. The company was founded based upon proprietary technology developed by Dr. Erkki Ruoslahti and his laboratory at the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute in Santa Barbara, California. The basis of the patent portfolio licensed by EnduRx is a set of unique peptides that selectively target a micelle carrying the peptides to the shoulders of atherosclerotic plaques, and the porous capillaries of neoplasms to deliver a chemical payload.

Sanford-Burnham Pipeline

Research in Sanford-Burnham laboratories has led to:

In 2011 alone, the Sanford-Burnham therapeutics pipeline included at least 16 promising projects directed at small-molecule drug discovery that have reached the point where chemical lead optimization is either underway or where a solid chemical lead for potential clinical development has been produced.

Our pipeline also includes a minimum of 33 projects where prototype biological drugs (protein and peptide drugs) have been generated by our laboratories and proof of concept has been achieved, including:
  • Eight biological drugs that are already in clinical testing;
  • At least eight projects involving cell-based therapies that have reached proof of concept, including one cell-based therapy that is now advancing to phase I human clinical trials.

Applications of our research are in the fields of cardiovascular diseases, cancer, tissue regeneration, hypophosphotasia, COPD, protein-losing enteropathy, pulmonary fibrosis, focal segmental glomerulosclerosis and biologics.

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