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The Patent Chronicle

in Sci-IP by

Your weekly dose from the world of patents (April 4th, 2017). The Patent Chronicle is led by Syam Anand, who has been at the core of CSG’s development and an entrepreneur himself. This section is your go to destination every week for a capsule dose on the hottest happenings in the patent world. Syam has clinically dissected out every news on the decision, the background and the impact. He is also in the process of building his scicomm team for this section. If you would like to come aboard, mail him at

EPO to give CRISPR rights to UCB

Decision: European Patent Office (EPO) indicated its intention to give a broad CRISPR patent to UCB.

Reason: EPO is convinced that UCB’s CRISPR application has been enabled for BOTH prokaryotes and eukaryotes.

Impact: UCB gains upper hand in Europe in the CRISPR battle. Broad can still file an opposition to the EPO decision. UCB could end up amending claims affecting the scope of the patent. This is more or less going to end up as in USPTO with UCB getting a broader patent and folks wanting to use CRISPR in Europe and US having to license from both, IF they use it in eukaryotes.

Read more here

 Troll paradise Marshall, Texas could get hit

Decision: Pending

Reason: Opposing precedents as to where a patent owner can initiate proceedings for infringement- one set says place of incorporation, the other says place of operations (however minimal it is). Patent owners and trolls have been flooding to Marshall, Texas (a town with 25,000 population) and case numbers in the town are around 34% of those filed nationwide.

Impact: Supreme court decision will direct which precedent is the law of the land. Trolls could lose on their strategy litigate in “friendly” jurisdictions.

Read more here

NIH funding cuts will impact patents and innovation

Decision: The Trump administration has proposed the following cuts to NIH budget- 1.6 billion USD for 2017 and 6 billion USD for 2018.

Reason: Divert funds to increased defense spending.

Impact: Study led by a Harvard Business School entrepreneurship professor shows that both basic and applied research contribute to commercial innovation. In one author’s own words “neither the progress of life sciences research nor its contribution to the economy is neat or easy to quantify”. “The sausage factory doesn’t look up-close very appetizing,”. “But in the sweep of history, this system delivers things.” 10 % of NIH grants resulted directly in a patent and 30% in articles were subsequently cited by patents. Innovation will take a hit as a result of the funding cut’s impact on both basic and applied research.

Read more in here and here

BMS Dasatinib patent dismissed for no utility

Decision: Federal court finds ability to inhibit an enzyme cannot to be extended to a utility to cure cancer without sufficient proof. It is an overarching promise and lacks utility.

Reason: Apotex wanted to sell Apo-dasatinib in Canada and was opposed by BMS. Apotex alleged inutility, obviousness and double patenting.

Impact: Apotex can sell its drug in Canada. Sets a precedent for questioning a patent’s utility and enablement without direct proof.

Read more here

Small Business Innovation Protection Act

Decision: U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Jim Risch (R-ID) have reintroduced the bill aimed to protect the IP of small businesses by improving education on patents prosecution and beyond.

Reason: Lack of awareness of international patent protection that affects small businesses ability to protect their inventions outside US, especially China and other major international markets.
Impact: More in person and online training and outreach programs from Small Business Administration and USPTO through Small Business Development Centers.

Read more here


Biogen wins MS drug Tecfidera dispute

Decision: USPTO’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board ruled that Forward Pharma failed to prove Biogen had infringed on its patent.

Reason: Insufficient scientific description for proving infringement.

Impact: Biogen does not have to pay royalty to Forward Pharma with this ruling. However, an appeal of PTAB decision by Forward Pharma in a court could reverse the fortunes. Biogen had earlier licensed the use of dimethyl fumerate (active ingredient of the drug) from Forward Pharma making this a self-inflicted wound in a court battle.

Read more here

 About the author:


Authored by Dr Syam Anand, PhD (Indian Institute of Science, IISc; Post-Doctoral research, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine; Faculty, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Founder and US Patent Agent, Mainline Intellectual Property LLC, Ardmore, Philadelphia USA). Syam has over 20 years experience in diverse areas of Science with domain knowledge in Life Sciences and Intellectual Property. Dr. Anand is also an inventor and budding entrepreneur. A rationalist, Dr. Anand enjoys science at all levels and advocates the use of scientific methods for answering all questions and solving all problems and make common people curious and interested in understanding their worlds.

Featured Image source: Pixabay

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Got fat ? Let’s migrate !

in Reporting from the Lab by

Targeted cancer therapy, for the most part, focuses on restricting the uncontrolled growth of a tumor. While these treatment strategies have been successful during the early stages of cancer, there is a constant need to identify treatment options for tumors that have undergone metastasis i.e. the tumor cells have dispersed from their primary site and localized to other organs of the body. In a recent study published by Nature, Pascual et al have shed some major insights into the process of metastasis and identified a fatty acid receptor, CD36 as a potential target to impair metastasis.

The researchers  generated tumors in mice by injecting them with oral carcinoma cell lines and patient-derived cells. These cells were stained with a fluorescent label dye, which diminishes with every dividing cancer cell. They were able to identify slow dividing dye-retaining cells as well as rapidly dividing dye-negative cells in the tumors that developed. A transcriptome analysis, to identify differences in the gene signature of these two populations, showed an enhancement of genes involved in metastasis and lipid metabolism in the slow dividing dye-retaining cells. CD36, a cell surface receptor and a crucial component for lipid uptake and metabolism, was one of the top implicated genes in their data analysis. Cell surface receptors communicate with specific molecules in the extracellular environment and transmit signals within the cell, which consequently dictates cellular processes.

How does CD36 affect metastasis? Interestingly, loss of CD36 in mice reduced the ability of tumors to penetrate to other organs by 80-100% while it did not affect primary tumor formation. Consistent with its requirement for metastasis, antibodies that block the CD36 receptor significantly inhibited metastasis in mice without affecting the size of the tumor. Furthermore, the expression of the cell surface receptor, CD36 was greatly increased when mice were fed with a high-fat diet. In a series of subsequent experiments, the authors concluded that the metastatic potential of tumors is increased with a high fat diet in a CD36 dependent manner.

There are several aspects of this study that are interesting.

This work shifts the paradigm of cancer metastasis theories where tumor cells are believed to undergo a transition from an adhering epithelial cell to a migratory mesenchymal cell (EMT) to invade distant sites. These CD36 expressing cells did not exhibit a mesenchymal gene signature. While further experimentation is required to link CD36 and EMT, it is conceivable that these processes are independent of each other to facilitate metastasis. A detailed mechanism of how CD36 initiates and regulates metastasis remains to be determined.

A high fat diet, which included palmitic acid (an essential component of palm oil) enhanced metastasis in a CD36-dependent manner in these mice. Palm oil is a key ingredient in several food products including Nutella. A press release early last year claimed that the breakdown products of palm oil are potentially carcinogenic, therefore correlating Nutella consumption with cancer risk. While these correlative studies require further scrutiny, validation, and support by causation studies in humans, it is imperative to understand the impact of an EXCLUSIVE high-fat diet on health.

The constantly evolving landscape of cancer research has witnessed the discovery of promising molecules to combat the most aggressive forms of the disease. A majority of these molecules are immuno-oncological targets that enhance the anti-tumor immune response and prevent tumor spreading. In 2016, the FDA approved two drugs, Bristol Myers-Squibb’s Opdivo for metastatic head and neck squamous carcinoma and Genentech’s Tecentriq for metastatic non-small cell lung carcinoma. Both these drugs regulate the immune checkpoint PD-1 and PDL-1 respectively. Some other drugs in the pipeline include Bristol-Myers Squibb and ASLAN pharmaceuticals’ ASLAN002, an inhibitor of the receptor tyrosine kinase, RON. RON regulates immune surveillance and its activation enhances tumor metastasis. Innate Pharma‘s, anti-CD73 blocks the enzyme, CD73 whose function contributes to the generation of an immunosuppressed and pro-angiogenic tumor microenvironment. What makes the fatty acid receptor CD36 unique, so far, is that it exclusively affects metastasis without affecting primary tumor formation. While its cross talk with the immune system remains to be investigated, CD36 represents a novel class of potential anti-metastatic targets that requires further validation. Targeting CD36 by itself, or perhaps in combination with the other aforementioned drugs, might have the potential to treat some of the most aggressive forms of tumor and subsequently have a positive impact on patient lives.

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Photo source: Shutterstock

Edited by Abhinav Dey.

About the author 

Radhika completed her PhD from Cornell University and is currently a Postdoctoral fellow at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Her research interests have centered around oncology and neuroimmunology. Among other things, she is striving to effectively communicate scientific discoveries to the community.





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