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U of Maryland's YouTube channel touts inventions

By: Intellectual Property Marketing Advsior

The office of Commercial Ventures and Intellectual Property (CVIP) at the University of Maryland has launched a YouTube channel to increase interest in its inventors and inventions.“It really grew out of one technology I love to talk about,” says Stephen Kinsey, a CVIP technology licensing officer. Kinsey says that technology was developed by researcher Stuart Martin, PhD, who found that when cancer cells break off from a solid tumor they lose their normal, “happy” shape — similar to that of a fried egg. “When they break off, they get rounded up into a ball and form long processes (dubbed ‘microtentacles’) and try to get back onto the epithelial layer,” says Kinsey. “These processes are sticky. If it does not happen, they either go through the bloodstream and are sheared by the pressure of the blood, or produce apoptosis.” The microtentacles last longer in the bloodstream, and when they are stuck in the capillary bed they remain dormant, but perhaps five or 10 years later come up as a secondary tumor through their ability to attach to tissues. Martin “is looking at compounds to block the formation of these processes,” Kinsey explains, which in turn might serve to prevent metastasis.

The technology was a logical candidate for a YouTube video, Kinsey continues. “It’s really amazing and the inventor has beautiful pictures and films of this cell, but in order to ‘get it’ you have to see it. So, the obvious thing is to shoot a little movie.” The “microtentacles” video includes not only comments from Stuart, but colorful images of the cells moving around. “We did not want to write out a script for him to memorize or read; we wanted it to be natural,” says Kinsey. “We wanted the passion of the inventor to get through; a lot of times we’ve found that when you sign a license what really does it is the personality of the inventor. When they are very passionate it really helps to sell the invention and it’s often why licensees want a relationship with the university.” (The microtentacles video can be accessed here.)

It was very simple to create the channel, he adds. “You go to YouTube, create an account, and they take you through it pretty much step by step — they give you a place where you can edit, determine what the background will look like, what video you want to play first, and so on,” says Kinsey. “It’s very self-explanatory.” The video has already grabbed media attention; there’s a report on the technology on the “Global Medical News” YouTube channel, featuring Stuart’s images. A detailed article on CVIP’s channel appears in the August 2010 issue of Intellectual Property Marketing Advisor.