Morgan Lewis Attorneys Assist in Obtaining Patent for Subject Matter of Nobel Prize
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Morgan Lewis attorneys represented the Carnegie Institution of Washington before the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office in obtaining U.S. Patent 6,506,559, which claims the subject matter awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine for 2006.
Andrew Fire, a scientist who discovered RNAi, or RNA interference, while at the Carnegie Institution’s Department of Embryology, and Craig C. Mello of the University of Massachusetts Medical School, were awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine in October 2006. The Fire-Mello discovery that double-stranded RNA can quash the activity of specific genes is an important breakthrough in modern molecular biology. RNAi is now being widely used both as a research tool and for the development of products that could combat diseases such as cancer and HIV.
"I am very honored that our work has received such positive attention," said Fire. "Science is a group effort. Please recognize that the recent progress in the field of RNA-based gene silencing has involved original scientific inquiry from research groups around the world. Any prize recognition should go to the many scientists who have made individual contributions, and to the spirit of scientific community that has allowed information and ideas to flow freely. Our lab's work in this field has also been a group effort. I have been fortunate to work on this project with many talented colleagues at the Carnegie Institution, with Dr. Craig Mello and his talented colleagues at the University of Massachusetts, and with the insightful support of the National Institutes of Health," he stated.
"Every one of us at Carnegie is thrilled for Andy, for the institution, and for the promise this discovery has for advancing our understanding of basic molecular processes and helping cure disease," said Carnegie president Richard A. Meserve. "Andy’s work is a vivid example of how Carnegie’s commitment to freedom of research can yield extraordinary results for humanity."
Two other Nobel geneticists have come from Carnegie—Alfred Hershey, who won the prize in 1969 for his discovery that genes were made of DNA, and Barbara McClintock, who won in 1983 for her work on jumping genes, also known as transposable elements.
U.S. Patent 6,506,559 and corresponding foreign patents and pending applications have been licensed on a nonexclusive basis by the Carnegie Institution of Washington and the University of Massachusetts (joint owners) to more than 50 pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and agricultural companies. Paul Kokulis, senior counsel in Morgan Lewis's patent group, has managed both the prosecution of these patents and the licensing to third parties with the assistance of partner Bob Smyth and associates Sally Teng and Chris Betti.
Christopher J. Betti, Robert Smyth, Ph.D.