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USPTO Publishes Two Patent Applications Covering RNA Interference Technology

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The US Patent and Trademark Office published on Oct. 2 two patent applications related to RNA interference.

The first — No. 20030186909 — is entitled “Nucleic acid treatment of diseases or conditions related to levels of epidermal growth factor receptors,” and lists Sirna Therapeutics researcher James McSwiggen as its inventor.

The patent application — filed on Oct.21, 2002 — specifically claims nucleic acid molecules, including a double-stranded short interfering RNA molecule, that modulate the expression of epidermal growth factor receptor genes. McSwiggen is also the inventor on a patent application, published in mid-September, which claims RNAi-mediated inhibition of the gene expression of epidermal growth factor receptors, including the HER family, the members of which have been implicated in tumor growth.

This patent may signal an expansion of focus for the company: Recently, Sirna CEO Howard Robin said that the company is exploring indications outside of its core macular degeneration and hepatitis programs, and that it sees opportunities in cancer. (See RNAi News, 9/26/03.)

The second patent application — No. 20030186916 — is entitled “Vector for transfection of eukaryotic cells,” and relates to a vector comprising a nucleic acid (including an siRNA), a nucleic acid binding polymer, a vesicle, and a membrane active polypeptide.

The application was filed on March 10, 2003.

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