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Release: Immediate

UI law school holds panel discussion on blood substitute March 26

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The scientific, legal and commercial issues surrounding the invention of a substitute for human blood by a University of Iowa professor will be the focus of a panel discussion from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, March 26 at the University of Iowa College of Law.

The panel, "Blood Substitute: From Concept to Commercial Product," will be in Room 225 of the Boyd Law Building. The session, sponsored by the UI Intellectual Property Law Society, is free and open to the public.

The panel will feature Joseph Walder, the inventor of the blood substitute. Walder is now an adjunct professor in the UI department of biochemistry but earlier served as a professor in that department.

Known by its commercial name, "HemAssist," the blood substitute currently is undergoing late-stage clinical trials in Europe and the United States. If approved by regulatory authorities, HemAssist is expected to be available for use by late 1999 or early 2000.

If the present human trials are successful, the blood substitute may become the first approved product in a worldwide market estimated at several billion dollars a year.

Other panelists include:

-- Edmund Sease, an attorney with the Des Moines law firm of Zarley, McKee, Thomte and Sease. Sease prosecuted the patent application for HemAssist;

-- Bruce Wheaton, executive director of the UI Research Foundation, the organization that manages intellectual property developed at the UI. The UI Research Foundation has entered a license agreement that enables commercial use of the patents for the blood product.

The panel will be moderated by Mark Janis, associate professor of law and faculty advisor to the Intellectual Property Society, and David Best, adjunct professor in the College of Business Administration.

Janis says the goal of the panel discussion is to provide an interdisciplinary look at product development.

"We really wanted to bring in a variety of perspectives on how an idea goes from initial discovery to a patent to a commercial product," Janis says. "We've put together a program that aims to reach outside the legal community, to students and faculty in the sciences and in business. We hope that we can all learn from each other."

Walder made the discoveries that led to HemAssist in the early 1980s while a professor of biochemistry at the UI. The UI Research Foundation engaged Sease to prosecute patents related to Walder's work and subsequently exclusively licensed the blood substitute patents to Baxter Healthcare Corp., a Chicago-based medical technology company.

Under the terms of the license agreement, Baxter has the exclusive right to commercial use of the Walder blood technology.