LONDON - Shares in Oxford GlycoSciences plc (OGS) rose by #1.92 to #17.02 when it announced that it has been granted a broad U.S. patent on its proteomics technology. The patent covers methods and equipment used to image, select and isolate proteins from biological samples for identifying disease-associated proteins.

CEO Michael Kranda told BioWorld International, "This is a very broad proteomics technology patent. Proteomics is becoming very important and is being recognized as a very distinct drug discovery technology. The granting of the patent completely demonstrates our scientific contribution to it."

Kranda says the breakthrough made by OGS is in scaling up the process. "No one ever doubted that the concept of purifying proteins in this way and comparing sample A to sample B would be a powerful tool in attempting to find out which genes were turned on at a particular time, and what switched them off and on. But when it was a manual process the scope was extremely limited."

OGS, of Abingdon, Oxfordshire, will not initially license the technology to equipment manufacturers. Instead it intends to use its monopoly to sign more collaborations. It already has deals with Pfizer in Alzheimer's disease and atherosclerosis, with Merck in diabetes and with Bayer in respiratory disease. It also has a joint venture with Incyte Genomics Inc. to build a protein expression database.

"Although we may eventually license to equipment manufacturers, in the near term we will use it to get more deals," Kranda said. "The patent underscores the validity of what we are doing. We are on record as saying we will uncover 1,500 disease-related proteins this year and 2,500 next year."

Following on from the Human Genome Project there will be a race to "find the protein." OGS believes that its ability to do protein expression profiling on an industrial scale will give it a head start in finding disease-associated proteins, without prior knowledge of the gene sequence or the structure of the protein.