Cancer Cell Research Methods Gets Patent

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Variagenics Inc. has announced that the United States Patent and Trade-mark Office has issued US Patent No. 6,200,754, entitled "Inhibitors of alternative alleles of genes encoding products that mediate cell response to environmental changes."

The Company believes that pharmacogenomics applied to cancer-drug development will increase the chances of prescribing patients optimal first-line therapy at the onset of diagnosis. Variagenics' goals are to develop genotyping tests that predict therapeutic response by identifying patients who respond well to, or may suffer toxic side effects from, specific treatments.

By providing these specific genotyping services and encouraging drug developers to integrate the assessment of genetic effects on therapeutic response into their oncology development programs, Variagenics is facilitating the possibility to speed clinical development time and provide physicians potentially time-saving analysis alternatives to trial and error prescription practices.

In the area of pharmacogenomics for cancer, Variagenics employs various methods to identify genetic markers, including: analysis of loss of heterozygosity (LOH), analysis of genotype or haplotype, and gene expression profiling. This newly issued patent covers inventions relating to LOH, a process which results in the loss of genetic material in cancer cells. Variagenics believes LOH observed in essential and conditionally essential genes can contribute to the process of developing targeted cancer therapeutics that enable the selective elimination of cancer cells without toxicity to normal cells.

"This patent reinforces our ability to leverage our knowledge of the correlation between genetic variation and cancer into solutions for cancer therapeutics and related diagnostic products," said Taylor J. Crouch, Variagenics' CEO. "We believe that drugs and diagnostics derived using this methodology would be broadly applicable for treating major cancers as well as certain non-malignant proliferative disorders."

"This and previously issued patents have covered inventions that focus on genetic variances in essential and conditionally essential genes," said David Housman, scientific founder and Chairman of the Board of Variagenics and Professor of Biology at the Center for Cancer Research of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "Each time we receive a patent in this area, we validate our methods for applying pharmacogenomics to diagnostic and therapeutic solutions for cancer."


Pharmabiz, May 10, 2001