Montana State University

Two new technologies available for licensing from MSU

July 6, 2009 -- From MSU News Service

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MSU News Service
Tel: (406) 994-4571
BOZEMAN -- A technology that could help slow or even stop the growth of cancer cells and a technology that can produce better micro-sized mirrors for advanced electronics are now available for licensing to interested companies and entrepreneurs through Montana State University's Technology Transfer Office.

The first technology is a protein found by an MSU researcher that helps inhibit the growth of cancer cells and promote the death of cells in tumors.

The protein has been shown to block the activation of a separate group of proteins called nuclear factor kappa-B, which plays a key role in how cancer cells proliferate in ovarian, breast, colorectal, prostate, and bone cancer, to name a few.

In cancerous tumors, nuclear factor kappa-B often prevents the natural death of cancer cells and allows them to reproduce. Blocking the effect of nuclear factor kappa-B can cause cancer cells to stop spreading or die. It can also make cancer cells more susceptible to cancer treatments.

Nuclear factor kappa-B has been a target of much cancer therapy research. Many different approaches to blocking it have been suggested. While most of those approaches involve using small molecules to block nuclear factor kappa-B, the MSU technology instead uses a protein derived from a virus.

The benefits of using a viral protein include the potential for targeted delivery in patients. The viral protein also has a shorter half-life, compared to the small-molecule approach. The rotavirus protein could also have a minimal effect on normal cells in the patient.

The viral-based targeted cancer therapy is a product of the laboratory of Michele Hardy. A patent is pending, and research is ongoing.

The second technology is an improved device for focusing microelectromechanical system (MEMS) deformable membrane mirrors. Such mirrors are an emerging technology used in devices like micro-projectors, miniature lenses, optical scanning devices and telecommunications.

MEMS mirrors require precise focusing, which is typically performed with micro-scale electrostatic actuators. MSU researchers have developed an improved MEMS actuator that uses a feedback loop to control the voltage based on the position of the mirrors.

Applications for this technology include improved performance and design of MEMS mirrors in applications such as micro-projectors, miniature variable focus or zoom lenses, optical read heads for barcodes or data storage, telecommunications switches and actuators, microscopy and medical imaging devices like endoscopic instruments.

The benefits of the improved MEMS actuator include greater focus range and precision, a longer lifetime for MEMS mirrors, reduced mirror size and less voltage.

The MEMS actuator is a product of research at the Montana Microfabrication Facility and the laboratory of David Dickensheets. A patent is pending, and research is ongoing.

Companies interested in licensing any of these technologies should contact Nick Zelver with the MSU Technology Transfer Office at 406-994-7868 or by e-mail at by Aug. 3, 2009.

To date, MSU has 180 active technology licenses. 103 of those licenses are with Montana companies.

To see all MSU technologies available for licensing go to:

Contact: Nick Zelver, Associate Director, MSU Technology Transfer Office, at 406-994-7706 or