Licensing a cell line is a relief for the researcher

You have to consider how an invention can benefit society the most. It is not enough to publish the invention; it must also be productised.

Cell lines are important for studying the mechanisms of tumour development. We have discovered that hereditary mutations in the AIP gene predispose carriers to pituitary tumours. Because the AIP gene had not previously been connected to such hereditary predisposition, we set out to investigate why mutations of the gene lead to the development of pituitary tumours. By generating an Aip germline mutation in a mouse model, we successfully created both an Aip mutation positive and a wild-type mouse embryonic fibroblast cell line. We then used precisely these cell lines to identify the role of the AIP gene in tumour growth.

Current practice at universities means that after the study is published, anyone can ask to use the cell line created for that research. Such requests require a great deal of additional work from the researcher and the laboratory because growing and sending the cells takes time away from one’s research. To reduce my workload, I decided to contact HIS so that they could license the cell line to a company or other party in the pharmaceutical industry.

Thanks to HIS, the licensing process, including the material transfer agreement, went without a hitch. I submitted an invention disclosure for my cell line, after which HIS assessed its commercial value and potential. We also considered the potential target parties for marketing. My role in this part of the process felt natural because I knew the content of the research and the details of the project better than anyone else.

HIS was responsible for negotiating with companies, and at the final stage, I reviewed the draft agreement for issues relevant to my research group. Interacting with HIS was easy, and the process as a whole went smoothly. The relief from having to maintain the cell line has provided me with the opportunity to focus fully on moving our own research forward.

Auli Karhu, Researcher, Department of Medical Genetics