A number of biotechnology-related patents are about to issueor have issued in the past week. Here is a summary.

Alkermes Inc. has received a second patent on its receptor-mediated permeabilizer (RMP) technology. The patent, U.S. No.5,268,164, covers methods of using Alkermes' compound RMP-7 for increasing the permeability of the blood-brain barrier(BBB). Alkermes of Cambridge, Mass., received its first patenton the RMP technology in May 1992; it covers the use of afamily of compounds to increase the permeability of the BBBwhen given intravenously.

Alkermes (NASDAQ:ALKS) is developing RMPs to be used withtherapeutic compounds for the treatment of diseases anddisorders of the central nervous system. The company'scompound RMP-7 is currently in clinical trials for two diseaseindications: cryptococcal meningitis (a brain fungal infection inAIDS patients) and brain tumors.

Large Scale Biology Corp. (LSB) has received a basic patent, U.S.No. 5,186,824, covering the use of centrifugal principles toimprove the efficiency of large-scale solid-phaseoligonucleotide synthesis. Privately held LSB has been testingits production-scale centrifugal oligonucleotide synthesis (PCOS)instruments employing these principles at the company'sRockville, Md., facilities for the last nine months.

A patent that is key to Matritech Inc.'s R&D efforts to develop aproduct for detecting prostate cancer is about to be issued tothe Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The patent,U.S. No. 5,273,877, covers methods of detecting nuclear matrixproteins in body fluids such as serum and urine.

The nuclear matrix is a three-dimensional protein structurefound in the nucleus of human cells. The detection ofdifferences in the types and amounts of nuclear matrixproteins in cells, serum and urine provides importantdiagnostic information about cellular abnormalities, includingcancer.

Matritech of Cambridge, Mass., is developing serum assays tomonitor and detect the recurrence of breast, colorectal, prostateand lung cancers, as well as a urine assay to detect bladdercancer and a diagnostic for identifying pre-cancerous andcancerous cells in cervical Pap smears.

The company (NASDAQ:NMPS) just received a Phase I smallbusiness innovation research (SBIR) grant to study its prostatecancer detection technology.

A patent covering Bio-Technology General Corp.'s geneticallyengineered thrombus imaging agent Imagex will issue to theIselin, N.J., company next week. The claims of the patent, U.S.No. 5,270,030, are directed to an imaging agent, a plasmidexpressing the agent and the purified polypeptide itself.

Bio-Technology General's (NASDAQ:BTGC) product Imagex is thegenetically engineered domain of the fibronectin molecule thatbinds to fibrin found in blood clots. The agent will be linked toa radioactive entity for detection purposes.

-- Jennifer Van Brunt Senior Editor

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