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IP Update: Recent Patents, Patent Applications Awarded to Alnylam; Whitehead; Merck; and More

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Title: Compositions and Methods for Inhibiting Expression of Anti-Apoptotic Genes

Patent Number: 8,143,390

Filed: Dec. 6, 2010

Inventor: Hans-Peter Vornlocher, Alnylam Pharmaceuticals

The invention, the patent's abstract states, “relates to an isolated double-stranded ribonucleic acid for inhibiting the expression of bcl-2, where the antisense strand comprises a sequence that comprises a region of complementarity which is substantially complementary to at least a part of an mRNA encoding bcl-2. The dsRNA, upon contact with a cell expressing bcl-2, inhibits expression of the bcl-2 gene by at least 20 percent. The invention also relates to a pharmaceutical composition comprising the dsRNA together with a pharmaceutically acceptable carrier … [as well as] a vector for inhibiting expression of bcl-2 in a cell, where the vector comprises a regulatory sequence operably linked to a nucleotide sequence that encodes at least one strand of the dsRNA.”


Title: Compositions and Methods for Efficient Gene Silencing in Plants

Patent Number: 8,143,480

Filed: Oct. 19, 2007

Lead Inventor: Michael Axtell, Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research

“This invention relates to methods for knock-down of a target gene in plants, particularly efficient and specific methods for knock-down of a target gene in plants,” the patent's abstract states. “This invention also relates to methods for silencing endogenous plant genes or plant pathogen genes. It further relates to nucleic acid constructs which comprise a nucleic acid sequence that corresponds to a target gene or fragment thereof flanked by two complementary sites to an smRNA, e.g., a miRNA ... resulting in, for example the configuration: complementary site/nucleic acid sequence that corresponds to a target gene/complementary site.”


Title: Methods and Systems for Identifying microRNA Targets and Synthesizing Novel microRNAs and Uses of the Same

Patent Number: 8,145,436

Filed: June 30, 2006

Lead Inventor: Artemis Hatzigeorgiou, University of Pennsylvania

The invention, the patent's abstract states, comprises a “method of identifying a microRNA-recognition element and of generating microRNAs. .... System and computer programs for performing such methods are disclosed. Recombinant nucleic acid molecules comprising a heterologous coding sequence and one or more MREs are also disclosed, as are isolated nucleic acid molecule comprising one or more MRE sequences and being free of a coding sequence operably linked to regulatory elements. MicroRNAs generated by a method of the invention and the use of the microRNAs to downregulate gene expression are disclosed.”


Title: Methods and Compositions for Treating Cancer

Application Number: 20120070442

Filed: Aug. 11, 2008

Lead Inventor: Glen Weiss, University of Colorado

The patent application, its abstract states, claims “methods for identifying a cancer patient responsive to treatment with an EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor. One method comprises obtaining a biopsy from the patient and measuring the number of copies of miR-128b in DNA extracted from the biopsy. A patient responsive to EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor treatment has a cancer with less than two copies of miR-128b DNA.

“Another method comprises measuring miR-128b or miR-128a level in a biopsy obtained from the patient and comparing that level to miR-128b or miR-128a level in a normal tissue sample,” it adds. “A patient responsive to treatment with an EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor has a cancer expressing a lower level of miR-128b or miR-128a relative to normal tissue. Further provided herein are methods for treating cancer in a patient in need thereof. One method comprises measuring the level of miR-128b or miR-128a in a biopsy obtained from the patient and administering to the patient an EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor. Another method comprises measuring the number of copies of miR-128b in DNA extracted from a biopsy obtained from the patient and administering to the patient an EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor. A further method comprises administering to a cancer patient an EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor and an miR-128b inhibitor, administering an miR-128a mimic, or administering an miR-128b mimic. Also provided herein are compositions used to treat cancer in a patient.

“The compositions comprise an EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor and an miR-128b inhibitor, or an miR-128a inhibitor, and the cancer is characterized as having two or more copies of miR-128b DNA at the cellular level,” the abstract states.


Title: Compounds and Methods for Modulating the Silencing of a Polynucleotide of Interest

Application Number: 20120071539

Filed: Dec. 12, 2007

Inventor: Peng Jin, Emory University

The invention relates to “methods and compositions comprising chemical compounds that modulate the silencing of a polynucleotide of interest in a cell,” the patent application's abstract states. “Such chemical compounds when used in combination with an appropriate silencing element can be used to modulate the level of the polynucleotide targeted by the silencing element. Methods of using such compositions both in therapies involving RNAi-mediated suppression of gene expression, as well as in vitro methods that allow for the targeted modulation of expression of a polynucleotide of interest, are provided. Pharmaceutical or cosmetic compositions comprising such compounds and silencing elements also are disclosed. Methods for screening a compound of interest for the ability to modulate the activity of a heterologous silencing element also are provided.”


Title: Compositions and Methods Using siRNA Molecules and siRNA Cocktails for the Treatment of Breast Cancer

Application Number: 20120071540

Filed: Dec. 31, 2009

Lead Inventor: Patrick Lu, Intradigm (Silence Therapeutics)

The invention, the patent application's abstract states, “provides small interfering RNA molecules, compositions containing the molecules, and methods of using the molecules and compositions to treat breast cancer. In one aspect, a multi-targeted siRNA cocktail is disclosed. The siRNA molecules may be encapsulated in nanoparticles to further enhance their anti-cancer activity. The compositions may also be used in combination with other anti-cancer agents, such as bevacizumab.”


Title: microRNA Associated with Rheumatoid Arthritis

Application Number: 20120071541

Filed: Nov. 28, 2011

Lead Inventor: Seiji Kawano, Kobe University

The invention comprises “a novel marker for rheumatoid arthritis,” the patent application's abstract states. “An ... object of the … invention is to confirm whether or not [an] miRNA serving as the marker is involved as the etiology of RA, and to provide an inspection method for RA and a therapeutic agent for RA, each using the miRNA involved. The marker includes miRNAs whose expression is specifically increased or decreased in RA synovial cells based on a small RNA expression profile in the RA synovial cells. In addition, the therapeutic agent for RA includes [an] miRNA as an active ingredient.”


Title: Nucleic Acid Chemical Modifications

Application Number: 20120071641

Filed: March 2, 2010

Lead Inventor: Muthiah Manoharan, Alnylam Pharmaceuticals

The invention provides nucleosides of a predefined formula and oligonucleotides comprising at least one nucleoside of another formula, the patent application's abstract states. “Another aspect of the invention relates to a method of inhibiting the expression of a gene in cell … [by] contacting an oligonucleotide of the invention with the cell and maintaining the cell ... for a time sufficient to obtain degradation of the mRNA of the target gene.”


Title: Methods of Predicting the Probability of Modulation of Transcript Levels by RNAi Compounds

Application Number: 20120072123

Filed: May 27, 2010

Lead Inventor: Duncan Brown, Merck

The invention comprises “a method for determining the probability that an RNAi compound modulates the expression level of a gene using a linear regression model,” the patent application's abstract states. The invention “also provides a method for determining the probabilities that an RNAi compound modulates the expression levels of each gene in a set of genes of interest using the linear regression model.”

The invention further relates to “a method for determining the seed-sequence-dependent signature size of an RNAi compound using the linear regression model,” the abstract adds. “The invention provides a method for identifying genes having seed-sequence-dependent silencing effect by an siRNA using the linear regression model. The invention further provides a method for selecting from a plurality of siRNAs one or more siRNAs with higher silencing efficacy, specificity, and diversity in silencing a target gene in an organism. The invention also provides a method for determining the coefficients of the above linear regression model.”

The Scan

US Supports Patent Waivers

NPR reports that the Biden Administration has announced its support for waiving intellectual property protections for SARS-CoV-2 vaccines.

Vaccines Versus Variants

Two studies find the Pfizer-BioNTech SARS-CoV-2 vaccine to be effective against viral variants, and Moderna reports on booster shots to combat variants.

CRISPR for What Ails You

The Wall Street Journal writes that CRISPR-based therapies could someday be used to treat common conditions like heart attacks.

Nature Papers Review Integration of Single-Cell Assay Data, Present Approach to Detect Rare Variants

In Nature this week: review of ways to integrate data from single-cell assays, and more.