Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Geron statement regarding European cancer vaccine patents

 Geron Corporation commented on a ruling from the European Patent Office (EPO) with regard to its European patent 084139, and the issuance of a second Geron patent covering telomerase peptides, EP1783139.

In a March 31 ruling, the EPO Technical Board of Appeal (TBA) upheld a 2006 decision by the EPO Opposition Division cancelling three of the 47 claims of EP 084139 and maintaining the other 44 claims in the patent. The cancelled claims covered the use of telomerase peptides in vaccines for treating cancer. The opposition was originally brought by Pharmexa A/S of Denmark, which was developing GV1001, a telomerase peptide cancer vaccine. The rights to GV1001 were subsequently acquired by KAEL-GemVax, which is now conducting a European phase III trial combining GV1001 with other agents to treat pancreatic cancer. An earlier phase III single agent study of GV1001 in pancreatic cancer was reported to have been halted after a preliminary analysis showed no survival benefit.

“We understood the basis for the decision of the Opposition Division in 2006 and indicated at that time that we would file a divisional patent application to secure equivalent claim coverage,” said David J Earp, JD, PhD, Geron's chief patent counsel and senior vice president of business development. “We have been successful in that strategy and have been awarded a second European patent, EP1783139. The claims in this second patent were drafted in view of the earlier Opposition Division decision and specifically focus on telomerase peptides. The claims of this second issued patent clearly cover commercial use of the GV1001 product. While this patent has also been opposed by KAEL-GemVax, we believe that the issued claims are robust and should be upheld.”

Geron holds worldwide exclusive patent rights for technologies enabled by the cloning of the telomerase gene, which was accomplished by a team of Geron scientists and Dr Tom Cech and his colleagues at the University of Colorado. In addition to the European patents, Geron holds rights to telomerase patents worldwide including the US, Japan, Australia, South Korea and China. Geron has two product candidates, GRNVAC1 and GRNVAC2, designed to generate immune responses to telomerase using nucleic acids delivered to dendritic cells. Patent claims covering these programs were upheld in the TBA decision; in addition, these programmes are also covered by patent filings that are unrelated to those involved in the current hearings.

“We are committed to building value in our telomerase technologies through development of our own product candidates as well as through licensing and partnerships,” continued Dr Earp. “Securing and enforcing our core intellectual property rights is key to all of these opportunities.”

Geron is developing first-in-class biopharmaceuticals for the treatment of cancer and chronic degenerative diseases. The company is advancing anti-cancer therapies through multiple phase II clinical trials in different cancers by targeting the enzyme telomerase and with a compound designed to penetrate the blood-brain barrier.

Source: Pharmabiz

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