Monday, May 15, 2006

Google Alerts for Gene Patents

Like my previous post on Google Alerts for "Gene Therapy", I recently signed up (about 2 or 3 weeks ago) for weekly Google Alerts for "Gene Patents". So I get an email linking me to every news item posted on the web that addresses gene patents. And if this week's list of posts is any indication of the volume of links I am likely to get I will certainly have my work cut out for me trying to keep abreast of these developments! Today I received my weekly update that contained 21 news items. Here is a snap shot of some of the diverse issues that arise with genomic intellectual property:

This story reports that Inovio Biomedical Corporation has been granted two patents with broad claims regarding electroporation of nucleic acids in muscle. Here is a brief blurb from the report:

"SAN DIEGO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--May 15, 2006--Inovio Biomedical Corporation (AMEX:INO) announced today that it has acquired, under a license with Sphergen SARL, rights to several patent families relating to the use of electroporation technology. The rights Inovio has licensed include two patents with broad claims regarding electroporation of nucleic acids in muscle (U.S. Patent No. 6,939,862) and tumor tissue (U.S. Patent No. 6,528,315). This intellectual property acquisition enhances the breadth of Inovio's patent portfolio directed to the use of electroporation technology to deliver therapeutic biopharmaceuticals. The license also includes grants of rights to know how, future improvements, and provisions for exclusivity in applications to human medicine."

There is also this story which reports that the Federal Appeals Court has ruled in Cardium's Favor Over Boston Scientific and Arch Development on Patents for the Treatment of Heart Disease.

Via msn Money comes this report about the first quarter financial report of Corautus Genetics and an update on its therapeutic development program. Here is a quote from the CEO which summarizes why one of the trials (treating severe angina) has been cancelled.

"The Data Monitoring Committee ("DMC") recommended the termination of enrollment in the trial after review of summary information on 220 patients with three month data related to the primary endpoint of an increase in exercise treadmill time (ETT) of 60 seconds over baseline. The DMC also reviewed summary ETT information on 135 patients with 6 month follow up data and 26 patients with 12 month follow up data. Mr. Otto continued, "While the results of this interim primary endpoint review was disappointing, we and our GENASIS trial steering committee believe the analysis of the complete trial database will offer important additional insights regarding any potential application of the VEGF-2 therapeutic in this difficult patient population. We are actively continuing to gather blinded results from patients on all efficacy endpoints including, SPECT nuclear scans, angina class and frequency, angina medication consumption, electrocardiographic (ECG) changes indicating ischemia and major adverse cardiac events (MACE), as well as exercise tolerance times all of which will be analyzed."

And finally there is this encouraging story about crop scientists who have isolated two soybean lines that grow without the primary protein linked to soy allergies in children and adults. And they have released this information without any patents so that these two lines can be incorporated as quickly as possible. 6 - 8 % of children are allergic to soy-based products. Here is a brief blurb from the story:

"Crop scientists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the USDA-Agricultural Research Service's Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis screened more than 16,000 soybean lines kept in the USDA's National Soybean Germplasm Collection. The findings will appear later this year in the journal Crop Science.

The two soybean lines (PI 567476 and PI 603570A) contain virtually identical genetic mutations that do not contain the leading allergy-causing P34 protein, which consists of 379 amino acids, said Theodore Hymowitz, emeritus professor of plant genetics in the crop sciences department at the U. of I.

"We are releasing this information with no patents so that companies and breeders involved with soybeans can incorporate these two lines as quickly as possible," Hymowitz said. Companies in Japan, Canada and across the United States have been following the research effort, he added".