A number of important patents have issued to biotechnologycompanies in the past month. A short description of each:

Genzyme Corp. received U.S. Patent No. 5,240,832 for itsmethod of producing recombinant human thyroid stimulatinghormone (Thyrogen). The Cambridge, Mass., company(NASDAQ:GENZ) intends to use Thyrogen as an adjunct fordetecting and treating thyroid cancer. Specifically, the patentcovers an expression method for producing recombinant TSH incell culture. Genzyme has also licensed additional patentapplications that cover other aspects of Thyrogen production.

Glycomed Inc. of Alameda, Calif., has been awarded a U.S.patent on its non-anti-coagulant heparin derivatives. Thepatent, No. 5,250,519, includes claims for composition ofmatter, method of synthesis and methods of use. Glycomed(NASDAQ:GLYC) has been developing modified versions of thenatural carbohydrate heparin to retain the molecule'stherapeutic properties while eliminating its anti-coagulanteffects. Glycomed intends to use its heparinoid technology todevelop drugs for treating restenosis and thrombosis.

The oligonucleotides that Isis Pharmaceuticals Inc. has beendeveloping for treating herpes viruses are now protected byU.S. Patent No. 5,248,670. The patent covers certain antisenseoligonucleotides and oligonucleotide analogs, includingphosphorothioates, which interfere with the replication ofherpes simplex viruses in the laboratory. Isis (NASDAQ:ISIP) ofCarlsbad, Calif., now has eight issued patents on itsoligonucleotide technology, a number of compounds in variousstages of research and preclinical development and one drugcandidate in Phase II clinical trials.

Lidak Pharmaceuticals of La Jolla, Calif., received a notice ofallowance from the European Patent Office on Lidakol, its anti-viral and anti-inflammatory compound. The patent, No0,428,642, covers a topical formulation of Lidakol for treatingviral and inflammatory diseases in both humans and animals.Lidak (NASDAQ:LDAKA) now holds six issued patents onLidakol. Previously issued U.S. patents cover the drug's useboth topically and systemically as a treatment for viral andinflammatory diseases.

Protein Polymer Technologies Inc. of San Diego has beengranted two U.S. patents on its core technology, a means togenetically engineer structural proteins using uniquebiomaterials. One patent, No. 5,243,038, covers synthetic DNAcompositions that encode the amino acid building blocks of silkand elastin, as well as silk-like and elastin-like polymers andcombinations of such polymers.

The second patent, No. 5,235,041, covers the company's(NASDAQ:PPTI) novel process for purifying BetaSilk (one ofthose biomaterials) following its production by microbialfermentation.

Several more diagnostic assays are now protected by U.S.patents.

Editek Inc. has been issued U.S. Patent No. 5,240,844, acontinuation in part of a previously issued patent that coversthe Burlington, N.C., company's EZ-Screen technology. Thetechnology employs a membrane-based assay designed for therapid, on-site diagnosis of organic materials. Editek (ASE:EDI)has developed assays for detecting drugs of abuse,environmental pollutants and toxic materials.

RhoMed Inc., a private company based in Albuquerque, N.M.,received U.S. Patent No. 5,250,417 on its male fertility assay.The 24 allowed claims cover a method for determining theability of sperm to undergo the acrosome reaction, a necessarystep in the process of fertilization.

-- Jennifer Van Brunt

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