The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issued a new patent to OMRF.
Patent number 8,008,013 is entitled “Predicting and diagnosing patients with autoimmune disease.” For OMRF, it represents the latest in a long line of discoveries that could one day reach the health care marketplace.
A patent confers a government-authorized monopoly for 20 years from the date the application is filed. During this period of exclusivity, a patent owner like OMRF has a chance to focus on transforming its discovery into a product that doctors could use to diagnose or treat patients.
“Patents reward innovation by giving inventors an opportunity to develop their work without having to constantly look over their shoulders in fear of competition,” said OMRF President Stephen Prescott, M.D. “This speeds the movement of discoveries from bench to bedside, ensuring that patients receive the diagnostics and treatments they need in the shortest possible time.”
To date, the work of OMRF scientists has yielded more than 700 domestic and international patents. OMRF has licensed many of these discoveries to biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, which then use their expertise to transform the discoveries into experimental products that can be tested in humans.
This process has led to the development of numerous experimental drugs that are in various stages of development as well as one clinical test and three FDA-approved treatments that are currently available in hospitals and clinics.
Although OMRF receives some licensing revenues from these arrangements, Prescott said the driving force behind these partnerships is to deliver new drugs and tests to patients in need.
“At OMRF, we focus on that ‘ah-ha!’ moment of discovery,” said Prescott. “But we don’t have the economic resources to transform those breakthroughs into a drug or test that can be administered to humans. That’s where our commercial partners come in.”
This newest invention stems from the work of OMRF researchers Patrick Gaffney, M.D., and Kathy Moser, Ph.D. The pair used cutting-edge technology to sift through thousands of DNA samples from lupus patients and healthy volunteers to pinpoint a specific gene associated with the disease.
“We think this discovery could be useful for helping diagnose lupus patients and predicting the likelihood of the disease,” said Gaffney. In lupus, the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks its own tissues and organs. It affects as many as 2 million Americans and has no known cure.
For OMRF, the next step will be to seek a biotechnology or pharmaceutical company interested in licensing and further developing the invention. “It’s very exciting to think that we could be one step closer to a genetic test for lupus,” said Gaffney.