Thursday, April 26, 2007

Eugenie Reich on Verfaillie matter

Further to discussions of the Verfaillie matter, note that one of the writers following this story is Eugenie Reich, who has separately written about the Purdue "bubble fusion" matter.

From Reich's article (with Peter Aldhous):

Now New Scientist has examined a US patent (number 7015037) granted in 2006 that covers the isolation and use of MAPCs. The patent is exclusively licensed to a company called Athersys of Cleveland, Ohio, which hopes to launch clinical trials of the cells to treat conditions including heart attacks and stroke. Within the patent are three images that appear to be duplicated from another paper from Verfaillie's group, published in 2001 in the journal Blood (vol 98, pp 2615-2625). These images relate to experiments in which MAPCs were grown in culture dishes and made to differentiate into other cell types, such as those found in bone, cartilage, fat and the linings of blood vessels. The images document the presence of proteins specific to each type of cell being produced. The problem is that in each case the duplicated image is used in the patent to describe the production of a different protein from that described in the Blood paper.
In the most striking example, one of the duplicated images also seems to be used twice within the Blood paper itself, to represent the results from two different experiments. In the Blood paper, this image, which shows a series of three bands on a gel, is first used to represent a control for an experiment in which a culture of stem cells is made to differentiate into cells found in bone. What seems to be the same image is used later on the same page, though this time it is flipped over horizontally, producing a mirror image, and contains some small modifications (see top two images, right). Here, it is labelled as showing the production of collagen in a culture of stem cells made to turn into cells found in cartilage. n the patent, this flipped and modified image appears again, this time supposedly representing a bone-specific protein found in a culture of stem cells made to differentiate into bone cells (see bottom image, right). Stem cell biologists contacted by New Scientist are sure that the three images referred to above are duplicates. "They're quite clearly the same," says Jeanne Loring of the Burnham Institute for Medical Research in La Jolla, California. "It appears that a piece of data has been used multiple times to represent different things," agrees Arnold Kriegstein, who heads the programme in developmental and stem cell biology at the University of California, San Francisco.

As noted earlier on IPBiz: The '037 patent cites Bongso et al., "Isolation and culture of inner cell mass cells from human blastocysts," Human Reproduction, vol. 9, No. 11, pp. 2110-2117. The specification of Loring's 1998 patent application does NOT mention Bongso.

Note also that Loring's 1998 patent application was filed shortly after the appearance of Thomson et al., "Embryonic Stem Cell Lines Derived from Human Blastocysts," SCIENCE, vol. 282, Nov. 6, 1998, pp. 1145-1147.

As noted on IPBiz: Thomson's US 5,843,780, which issued Dec. 1, 1998, is based on application 08/591,246, filed on January 18, 1996. Loring's application 9/199,703 was filed on November 24, 1998, one week before Thomson's '780 patent issued.


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