The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office sided with Cangene Corp. in apatent proceeding concerning its core gene-amplification technology.The dispute, with Siska Diagnostics Inc., dates back to May 1993.The interference proceeding involved claims to Cangene's nucleic acidsequence-based amplification (NASBA) technology and Siska'stechnology called 3SR. Both technologies are isothermal, and are basedon RNA transcription rather than DNA replication.Jean Compton, manager of investor relations for Cangene, toldBioWorld that commercialization efforts have been slowed because ofpotential customers' concern over the patent situation."This decision clears the path for rapid NASBA commercialization,"said James Rae, who was promoted to CEO of the Mississauga,Ontario, company on May 24. "We believe NASBA will become thepre-eminent technology in the emerging field of RNA amplification."NASBA enables detection of disease and microbial contamination byspecifically targeting the nucleic acid present in a sample.A twist in the dispute is that Cangene's licensee for the technology,Organon Teknika Corp., of Durham, N.C., bought Siska in March, andholds rights to 3SR and another amplification technology, TAS."This doesn't really change anything," Dale Kirkland, Organon's vicepresident of corporate development, told BioWorld. "We made theinvestment to purchase Siska for the sole purpose of solidifying thepatent position supporting NASBA."Compton said Cangene has a U.S. patent on enhanced NASBA, whichdescribes improvements that make it more commercially viable. "Westill needed the core technology to have complete control over it," shesaid.Compton said Organon is just beginning to sell clinical research kitsfrom the NASBA line in Europe, dealing with HIV detection. OtherNASBA uses under development include hepatitis C, cytomegalovirus,chlamydia, chronic myeloid leukemia, mycobacteria and detection oflisteria contamination in food. n0602094CANGENE

-- Jim Shrine

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