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20 June 2017Africa

BIO 2017: The success story of OmniRat

The creator of OmniRat, the first human monoclonal antibody technology based on rats, outlined the success story of the project yesterday at the 2017 BIO International Convention.

Roland Buelow, vice president of antibody technologies at Ligand Pharmaceuticals and creator of the OmniRat, outlined his project in the session “Of rats and men: the success story of human therapeutic antibodies produced in the OmniRat”.

“We are the only company that has more than one species,” explained Buelow, who founded the company Open Monoclonal Technology (OMT), a subsidiary of Ligand.

Currently, Ligand’s OmniAb platform offers OmniRat, OmniMouse and OmniFlic (also a rat).

A genetically engineered rat was a “completely new knock-out technology”, Buelow said.

Fredrik Aslund, examiner in biotechnology at the European Patent Office (EPO) and session moderator, then detailed the patenting procedure for the invention.

The patent application was filed under the Patent Cooperation Treaty at the US Patent and Trademark Office for priority filing.

Aslund, on behalf of the EPO, granted the first patent in this patent family. Once granted, the patent obtained protection in Europe.

EP2152880 B1 and EP2336329 B1 (divisional) are the two European patents.

Aslund said you can effectively “count your chickens before they hatch”, meaning that the patent applied for doesn’t have to be a practised invention.

However, he warned that the eggs have to hatch as chickens, not anything else.

Todd Lorenz, counsel at Arnold and Porter Kaye Scholer, drafted the patent applications for the invention.

He explained that one of the main challenges is balancing the early stage of a company and the need to have a patent on file before someone will give you money, while not having the money to produce data for the patent.

In December 2015, Ligand announced that it would acquire OMT for $178 million.

Charles Berkman, vice president, general counsel and secretary at Ligand, said: “If you build a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to your door, but if you patent a better mouse or rat, the life sciences industry will come to you.”

Berkman estimated that over 300 antibody targets have been or are being pursued by OmniAb partners.

“In the early days of licensing, other major players in the field only licensed technology on the basis of target exclusivity. OmniAb licensed broadly and independent of target, and that worked out pretty well for us,” he said.

The 2017 BIO International Convention is taking place in San Diego from June 19 to 22.

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Merck granted its first CRISPR patent in Australia

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