The Pennsylvania State University ©1997

New Company Established To Develop

Technologies Based On Penn State Patents

January 21, 2000

University Park, Pa. --- A new company, EIEICO Inc., has been established based on licenses to three patented Penn State inventions and plans to develop them into products for the meat animal and dairy industries.

The inventions, owned by Penn State Research Foundation (PSRF), were all made during research conducted by university faculty members or students who will receive a portion of any economic gain. PSRF will retain an equity interest in EIEICO (pronounced eeyii, eeyii coh). The company's investors and management will hold the remaining ownership interest.

Frank P. Slattery Jr., a private investor from the Philadelphia area, is forming EIEICO and serving as chairman of the board. Retired director, president and CEO of LFC Financial Corporation, a diversified financial services company, Slattery has successfully started companies based on technology developed at Princeton and Penn where he earned his undergraduate and law degrees, respectively. Slattery and co-investors are funding EIEICO with $3 million.

Joseph S. Duffey, founder and president of Compass Management Partners, a management and strategy consulting firm, is serving as EIEICO president and CEO. Douglas L. Greger, one of the inventors, is serving as Chief Technology Officer. Greger was a Penn State graduate student when he made his invention. Until recently, he was a postgraduate researcher at the School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California in Davis, Calif.

Dr. Eva J. Pell, Penn State vice president for research and dean of the graduate school, says, "This new model for technology transfer, in which related inventions are bundled into the same start up company, offers those who invest in EIEICO a higher probability of seeing a winner. It also aligns the interests of the inventors and the University with those of the financial and management shareholders."

Dr. Thomas J. Monahan, director of Penn State's Intellectual Property Office (IPO), explained that, like shareholders and management, the inventors will benefit from any economic gain from their inventions along with their academic colleges. However, the inventors won't have to become full-time entrepreneurs and spend much of their time looking for capital to commercialize their discoveries. The University will benefit by fulfilling its outreach mission and providing products and economic benefit for the public good. In addition, the University has the potential of realizing additional financial gain from the sale of its equity interest.

EIEICO will operate as a parent company and establish subsidiary companies for the licensed inventions. The three products and their inventors are: a poultry feed withdrawal supplement to reduce the risk of meat contamination by microbial pathogens during processing developed by Dr. Regina Vasilatos-Younken, professor of poultry science, endocrine physiology and nutrition; a gel drug delivery system to more effectively manage farm animal reproduction invented by Dr. Daniel R. Deaver, professor of reproductive physiology, who is currently on leave of absence as Director of Life Sciences at Advanced Inhalation Research (AIR) Inc. in Cambridge, Mass.; and a genetic marker for meat quality traits discovered by Doug Greger. Greger filed eight patent applications related to improvements in livestock production while he was a graduate student at Penn State. The Livestock Genetic Marker subsidiary will be located in Penn State's Zetachron Center for Science and Technology Business Development.

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Contacts:
Barbara Hale (814) 865-9481 (o)/ (814) 238-0997 (h)
Vicki Fong (814) 865-9481 (o)/ (814) 238-1221 (h)

 

Inventions Background

Poultry Feed Withdrawal Supplement

INVENTOR: Dr. Regina Vasilatos-Younken, professor of poultry science,

endocrine physiology and nutrition

Currently, meat animal producers withdraw feed from poultry and livestock for a period of time prior to slaughter in order to ensure that the animals' gastrointestinal tract (GIT) is as empty as possible. This practice avoids wasting undigested feed that would provide no nutritional benefit to the animal and reduces the risk for contamination of the carcass with microbial pathogens during evisceration. However, in the absence of continued feed consumption, some fecal residue is retained by the animal and prolonged withdrawal times in broiler chickens can result in breakdown of the intestinal lining and an increased risk of tearing the intestine and contaminating the carcass during processing. The new withdrawal supplement developed by Dr. Vasilatos-Younken is given to poultry immediately prior to slaughter when regular feed is stopped. Because the supplement is rapidly and almost completely digested and absorbed in the upper portion of the chicken's gastrointestinal tract, it contributes virtually no intestinal residue and requires no withdrawal period. The withdrawal supplement is similar to high tech nutritive supplements given intravenously to hospital patients or by mouth to athletes in high performance situations where residue has to be minimal. By administering the supplement to poultry, the birds need not be starved before slaughter resulting in heavier birds, better quality meat and a lower probability of contamination during processing.

Gel Drug Delivery System

INVENTOR: Dr. Daniel R. Deaver, professor of reproductive physiology,

currently on leave of absence as Director of Life Sciences at Advanced

Inhalation Research (AIR), Inc. in Cambridge, Mass.

When cattle are bred at the correct time using, either natural or artificial insemination, over 95 percent of their eggs will be fertilized. However, within 21 days 25 to 50 percent of these embryos will die. Over the past 5 to 6 years, reproductive physiologists have shown that poor fertility is related to the stage of the growth cycle of the ovarian follicle when the egg is released. When follicles release eggs as they are increasing in size, pregnancy rates 21 days after insemination are very good. But significantly fewer pregnancies occur when eggs are released from follicles that have slowed or stopped growing. Techniques to control follicular development are emerging and can potentially be delivered by the new system developed by Dr. Deaver. The gel enables the medication to be delivered via vaginal, nasal or rectal passageways rather than by injection. For cattle, the gel could reset the cycle of follicular development thereby improving the quality of the released egg and potentially increase pregnancy rates by 10 to 15 percent. This can translate into savings of more than $200 million per year to the U.S. dairy industry. The technology can also be used for animals such as the horse where it may provide a simple to use technology for controlling the time of ovulation, with less discomfort for the animal when compared to existing methods. In addition, the technology has potential applications in breeding programs for endangered species and reversible canine contraception.

Livestock Genetic Marker

INVENTOR: Douglas L. Greger, Chief Technology Officer of EIEICO, Penn State

doctoral candidate and former postdoctoral researcher at the School of

Veterinary Medicine at the University of California in Davis, California

"Entire" or uncastrated male pigs (boars) produce more lean muscle, less fat, and consume less feed than castrated pigs. However, sometimes produce an off-odor or taste in the meat called "boar taint." Currently, there is no way to predict which boars will have "taint." As a result, to preserve meat quality, pork producers castrate all male pigs destined for consumption to prevent taint. This long-standing practice of castration raises concerns from those interested in animal welfare. Greger has discovered a naturally occurring variant of a gene that produces a protein involved in steroid production. Boars with this variant do not express boar taint, while those with the "normal" or "wild type" gene have a strong likelihood of developing boar taint. With this new knowledge, it is now possible to develop new lines of pigs in which boar taint will be reduced. This will enable pork producers to take advantage of the natural benefits of raising entire boars for pork. It will also be possible to test existing breeding stock for the presence of this genetic variant in order to select for lower boar taint expression.

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For information on how to contact inventors, call Barbara Hale, (814) 865-9481 or
e-mail .