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© 2011 Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein, & Fox P.L.L.C. All Rights Reserved. Patenting Biomarkers and Diagnostic Methods Neil P. Shull, Ph.D., J.D. S TERNE, K ESSLER, G OLDSTEIN & F OX P.L.L.C. F.I.R.E. Series LXIX March 8, 2012
© 2011 Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein, & Fox P.L.L.C. All Rights Reserved.. Overview of issues What can be patented? Is it useful? How much data is needed? Potential prior art issues What should be claimed? Who would infringe? 2
© 2011 Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein, & Fox P.L.L.C. All Rights Reserved.. Biomarkers Proteins and their isoforms Gene expression products (mRNA) Genetic abnormalities (mutations, SNP’s, chromosomal anomalies) Metabolites (drugs, endogenous) Small RNAs 3
© 2011 Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein, & Fox P.L.L.C. All Rights Reserved.. Focus On Claims “The U.S. is strictly an examination country and the main purpose of the examination, to which every application is subjected, is to try to make sure that what each claim defines is patentable. To coin a phrase, the name of the game is the claim.” Giles Sutherland Rich*, Extent of Protection and Interpretation of Claims, American Perspectives, 21 Int’l Rev. Indus. Prop. & Copyright L. 497, 499 (1990) (emphasis added). * Born in Rochester 4
© 2011 Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein, & Fox P.L.L.C. All Rights Reserved.. What to claim The biomarker itself, in isolated form –Nucleic acid, peptide, small molecule Methods of diagnosis –Correlate the presence/absence of a biomarker with a diagnosis Apparatus –Arrays –Computer readable medium 5
© 2011 Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein, & Fox P.L.L.C. All Rights Reserved.. Examples U.S. Patent 8,114,590 – Regents of University of California 1. A method for determining a prognosis of a patient with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) comprising: (a) obtaining a biological sample of the patient comprising lymphocytes; (b) determining the sample expression level of phosphodiesterase 7B (PDE7B); (c) comparing the expression level of PDE7B in the patient sample relative to a baseline expression level of said PDE7B; and (d) associating a higher relative patient PDE7B expression level with a higher risk course of CLL, thereby determining the prognosis of the patient with CLL. 6
© 2011 Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein, & Fox P.L.L.C. All Rights Reserved.. Examples U.S. Patent 8,076,089 - Industrial Technology Research Institute (TW) 1. A method of detecting liver cirrhosis or liver cancer in a subject, comprising the steps of: (a) providing a specimen of serum from a subject suspected of having liver cirrhosis or liver cancer; (b) using a biomarker consisting of SEQ ID NO:23 to identify and capture autoantibodies in the specimen by contacting the biomarker with the specimen to form a biomarker-autoantibody complex; (c) detecting the biomarker-autoantibody complex in step (b): and (d) correlating the presence of the biomarker-autoantibody complex with liver cirrhosis or liver cancer, wherein the presence of the biomarker- autoantibody complex indicates that the subject has liver cirrhosis or liver cancer. 7
© 2011 Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein, & Fox P.L.L.C. All Rights Reserved.. Examples U.S. Patent 8,014,952 – Queen Elizabeth Hospital and Vermillion, Inc. 1. A tangible computer-readable medium having computer-executable instructions for performing a method of qualifying lung carcinoma status in a subject, which method comprises: (A) transforming data extracted from a spectrum generated by mass spectroscopic analysis of a biological sample taken from the subject to identify component peaks of the spectrum; and then (B) matching the peaks to biomarker sets listed in Table 1 or Table 2, wherein positive matches to the biomarker sets are useable to qualify lung cancer. 8
© 2011 Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein, & Fox P.L.L.C. All Rights Reserved.. What can be patented? Whoever invents or discovers any new and useful –process –machine –manufacture –or composition of matter or any new and useful improvement thereof, may obtain a patent therefor, subject to the conditions and requirements of this title. 35 U.S.C. § 101 9
© 2011 Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein, & Fox P.L.L.C. All Rights Reserved.. 10 What can be patented? An invention can be patented if: The invention is eligible for patenting (“statutory subject matter”) And The invention is “new” and “unobvious” as measured against the “prior art”
© 2011 Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein, & Fox P.L.L.C. All Rights Reserved.. 11 What cannot be patented? Inventions that cannot be patented –Abstract ideas –Mental processes –Abstract mathematical formulas –Laws of nature –Inventions that clearly do not work (e.g., perpetual motion machines) –Inventions that are illegal
© 2011 Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein, & Fox P.L.L.C. All Rights Reserved.. The Machine-or-Transformation Test In October 2005, the USPTO issued a set of examiner guidelines indicating that a method claim must either transform physical matter or be tied to a specific machine in order to be patent-eligible. The Federal Circuit repeated this machine- or-transformation test as a mandate in In re Bilski (545 F.3d 943 (Fed. Cir. 2008)) 12
© 2011 Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein, & Fox P.L.L.C. All Rights Reserved.. Bilski at the Supreme Court The U.S. Supreme Court disagreed, saying that the machine-or-transformation test was not the only test for patent eligibility Abstract ideas are not patent eligible Although the Bilski case involved a business method patent, the case has ramifications for biotechnology 13
© 2011 Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein, & Fox P.L.L.C. All Rights Reserved.. Prometheus v. Mayo Representative Claim 1. A method of optimizing therapeutic efficacy for treatment of an immune- mediated gastrointestinal disorder, comprising: (a) administering a drug providing 6-thioguanine to a subject having said immune-mediated gastrointestinal disorder; and (b) determining the level of 6-thioguanine in said subject having said immune-mediated gastrointestinal disorder, wherein the level of 6-thioguanine less than about 230 pmol per 8X10 8 red blood cells indicates a need to increase the amount of said drug subsequently administered to said subject and wherein the level of 6-thioguanine greater than about 400 pmol per 8X10 8 red blood cells indicates a need to decrease the amount of said drug subsequently administered to said subject. 14
© 2011 Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein, & Fox P.L.L.C. All Rights Reserved.. Prometheus v. Mayo Court said this is patentable subject matter “The Supreme Court’s decision in Bilski did not undermine our preemption analysis of Prometheus’s claims and it rejected the machine-or transformation test only as a definitive test.” Prometheus, slip op. at 14. The Supreme Court decided to review and a decision is expected soon. 15
© 2011 Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein, & Fox P.L.L.C. All Rights Reserved.. Utility The claimed invention must have a specific, substantial and credible use A biomarker must have an associated biological function –Experimental data –Association/homology with known biomarker –Animal models for a specific disease are usually enough –Cell culture assays may or may not be enough Depends on the correlation 16
© 2011 Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein, & Fox P.L.L.C. All Rights Reserved.. How much data? Enablement –A person of skill in the art would have been able to make and use the invention –Correlation between experiments and claimed invention –The less predictable – the more you need to show 17
© 2011 Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein, & Fox P.L.L.C. All Rights Reserved.. How much disclosure? Written description –Need to show possession of the invention –If claiming a genus, need to set forth “a representative number of species” of the genus –For multiple biomarker panels, try and recite as many combinations as possible 18
© 2011 Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein, & Fox P.L.L.C. All Rights Reserved.. How much disclosure Written description –Need to provide the “thing” you are claiming (i.e., mutation, protein sequence) (Billups- Rothenberg, Inc. v. ARUP) Claims required “detecting a mutation” in a gene Sequence of the gene and mutations were not provided Only a method for detecting mutations in the future was disclosed Just providing a research plan to obtain that “thing” is not enough 19
© 2011 Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein, & Fox P.L.L.C. All Rights Reserved.. How many inventions are claimed? Inventors should try and identify which biomarkers have better predictive value than others Claims are supposed to be directed to one invention Example – claimed method of detecting 5 of a list of 50 genes Examiner may require restriction –Required to choose one group of 5 genes Is it possible to narrow down the discovery to the best combination? Can you afford to file divisional applications? 20
© 2011 Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein, & Fox P.L.L.C. All Rights Reserved.. Is it novel? The sequence information now publicly available makes it more difficult to find novel biomarkers –If the sequence is not publicly available, should consider composition claims Even if the sequence is publicly available, if this is the first association of the biomarker with a specific diagnosis, it is likely novel 21
© 2011 Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein, & Fox P.L.L.C. All Rights Reserved.. Is it obvious? Have similar biomarkers been used for similar diagnoses? What makes the claimed biomarkers better than those already public? –Unexpected results 22
© 2011 Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein, & Fox P.L.L.C. All Rights Reserved.. Who would infringe? To prove infringement of a patented process, the Patentee must show that the Defendant has performed each step of the claimed process (BMC Resources v. Paymentech) – If a third party collects a sample or does the analysis, it may not be infringement – Independent conduct of multiple actors via “arms-length cooperation” is not infringement 23
© 2011 Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein, & Fox P.L.L.C. All Rights Reserved.. Non-legal considerations How crucial are the biomarkers to the assay? –Is it possible to diagnose without them? –Are they only part of the panel? –Will anyone need to license the patent? –Especially and issue with SNPs The more important the marker is to the diagnosis, the more valuable it should be 24
© 2011 Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein, & Fox P.L.L.C. All Rights Reserved.. Non-legal considerations Will someone need to license multiple patents to perform the assay? Will it be worth it to license multiple patents? 25
© 2011 Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein, & Fox P.L.L.C. All Rights Reserved.. 26 Questions ? Comments? Thank You
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