Isis Pharmaceuticals Inc. announced the issuance of patent No.5,242,906, "Antisense oligonucleotides against Epstein-Barrvirus." The company (NASDAQ:ISIP) of Carlsbad, Calif., is theexclusive licensee of the patent issued to the University ofNorth Carolina at Chapel Hill.
The patent relates to antisense oligonucleotides oroligonucleotide analogs that inhibit expression of the EBNA-1gene of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). Epstein-Barr causes infectiousmononucleosis and is involved in the development of severalforms of cancer, including Burkitt's lymphoma andnasopharyngeal carcinoma.
Once a person is infected with the virus, it remainspermanently in the body in a latent form; the viral DNA iscarried along in cells for successive generations. Up to 80percent of the world's population is believed to be infectedwith EBV.
Antiviral drugs are not effective against latent infections thatcan become active again at some later date. The proteinproduced by the EBNA-1 gene is required for maintenance oflatent EBV infection. The oligonucleotides of this inventionprevent the production of this viral protein and cure cells ofthe latent viral DNA.
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