A Sea of Potential
The potential for any business to be successful lies in its ability to develop a competitive edge through new products or services. With the help of Springboard member Three Oaks Innovations, Inc. at UPEI, the commercialization of groundbreaking research can be the perfect conduit to that edge.
The successful facilitation of a licensing agreement between the university and Nautilus Bioscience Canada, Inc is an excellent example of Three Oaks’ expertise and vision for UPEI, their researchers and for the Prince Edward Island economy.
UPEI professor of chemistry and Canada Research Chair in Marine Natural Products, Dr. Russell Kerr, developed a process to ferment bacteria from sea coral to produce an anti-inflammatory and analgesic compound. These compounds, known as pseudopterosins, can be used in skin creams and cosmetics but have a more important potential in prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications. What is especially significant about Dr. Kerr’s discovery is that while it had long been thought that corals contained pseudopterosins, his team was able to determine the compound actually exists in the bacterium growing on the coral.
“In the past, pseudopterosins were extracted from coral in the Bahamas, which meant only small amounts could be collected,” says Dr. Kerr. “The discovery that pseudopterosins actually come from bacterium allows for the possibility of large scale fermentation and production of the anti-inflammatory compounds in large quantities without the need to harvest more coral. This method of production is more economically viable and it has less environmental impact.”
Through their in-depth knowledge of technology transfer and commercialization procedures, Three Oaks assisted UPEI in facilitating a relationship with Nautilus and ultimately brokered a licensing agreement that has the potential for millions of dollars of revenue for both partners. The agreement allows Nautilus access to the bacterium. Nautilus aims to optimize production of these anti-inflammatory compounds through fermentation of the bacteria with the goal of marketing the product to pharmaceutical companies.
“This type of licensing agreement is a first for UPEI and our ability to access the knowledge base within the Springboard network was instrumental to the process,” says Sophie Theriault, Director of Technology Transfer and Commercialization Coordination at Three Oaks Innovations. “We are extremely proud of the role we played in bringing these partners together and are excited about the future potential for this technology and others like it on Prince Edward Island.”