GenPharm International Inc. has received a notice of allowancefrom the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office that it will receivepatents on two of its transgenic mouse strains.
The patents will be the first to issue on transgenic animalssince the Harvard oncomouse was patented in 1988, saidJonathan MacQuitty, president and chief executive.
One patent covers the first of the Mountain View., Calif.,company's 10 strains of transgenic immunodeficient (TIM)mice. The mice are being developed for immunology researchas recipients of human cells or tissues.
"The purpose of the TIM program is to make a range ofimmunodeficient mice which would be improvements overexisting mice," MacQuitty said. "One of the problems you havewith natural mutants like SCID mice is that the geneticmutation isn't well-characterized. The result is the mice areleaky -- you haven't really completely eliminated certainaspects of the immune system."
Natural SCID (severe combined immunodeficient) mice developsome B and T cells as they get older, and it is impossible toknow which mice will develop them, MacQuitty said. All SCIDmice have natural killer cells.
In contrast, he said, "TIM mice are truly blank slates. We'retrying to make some mice with no functional T cells, or B cells,or natural killer cells or some combination of these."
The second patent will cover the use of GenPharm's PIM micefor carcinogenicity testing. These mice overexpress the pim-1oncogene and are sensitive to the presence of carcinogens. PIMmice are sold by GenPharm to pharmaceutical companies andgovernment agencies that are developing rapid toxicology tests.
GenPharm filed in February for an initial public offering of 2.5million shares at $10 to $12. The offering is on hold due tomarket conditions. -- Karen Bernstein
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