[MOL] Breakthrough in Stem Cell Research [01669] Medicine On Line

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[MOL] Breakthrough in Stem Cell Research

Johns Hopkins University Inventor Named National Inventor Of The Year By PI For Breakthrough In Stem Cell Research Also Recognized are Inventors of the `Preparation of Functional Human Factor <>
June 30, 1999

/ADVANCE/WASHINGTON, June 30 /PRNewswire/ via NewsEdge Corporation -- Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO), an organization that serves companies and inventors who own patented inventions, is presenting the 26th annual National Inventor of the Year award to Dr. Curt I. Civin of Johns Hopkins University.

Dr. Civin invented a monoclonal antibody that binds to a substance on human stem cells, useful in bone marrow transplants. He also invented a biomedical process to isolate the stem cell component of the blood immune system.

Lympho-hematopoietic "stem" cells are new cells that develop into mature blood and immune cells. The antibody invented by Dr. Civin makes it possible to separate stem cells from mature cells. Stem cell transplants using bone marrow are performed following high-dose chemotherapy in an effort to restore a patient's blood and immune cell production. Civin's cell selection system is intended to reduce tumor cells in the transplant.

Primarily through clinical studies, about 10,000 patients have received transplants of stem cells purified by using monoclonal antibodies. Johns Hopkins University originally licensed commercial rights to Becton Dickinson and Co., which later sublicensed rights to Baxter International, Inc. and Nexell Therapeutics Inc., a cell therapy company formed to continue development of the technology. In January 1999, Nexell announced the issuance of an approvable letter by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for its advanced stem cell selection system based on Dr. Civin's invention. Upon final approval, Nexell's cell selection system will be the only such system commercially available in the United States.

Civin graduated from Amherst College and received his medical degree from Harvard Medical School. After holding medical positions in federal agencies, he joined the Johns Hopkins faculty in 1979. He has lectured extensively and published more than 135 articles, 35 chapters in medical textbooks, and two medical books. He is inventor or co-inventor for nine U.S. patents for biomedical inventions.

IPO is also honoring four inventors from Genentech and one researcher from IBM with 1999 Distinguished Inventor Awards.

The Genentech inventors, Gordon A. Vehar, Richard M. Lawn, Daniel J. Capon and William I. Wood, are recognized for their 1997 patent for "Preparation of Functional Human Factor VIII." This biotechnological process enabled the supply of a therapeutic product for the treatment of hemophilia A patients that is free of HIV and hepatitis contamination. The invention replaces the factor VIII that is missing or in low supply in the blood of patients with hemophilia A. Without the factor, the blood will not clot normally, and uncontrolled bleeding will result.

From the late 1970s to the mid-1980's, about half of all people with hemophilia became infected with HIV through blood products derived from human plasma. Before 1990 virtually everyone with hemophilia was infected with hepatitis. The inventors utilized recombinant DNA technology to allow them to produce factor VIII protein from a source other than human plasma. This approach involves inserting the gene for human factor VIII into a mammalian cell to make the desired substance. Because this invention, recombinant human factor VIII, is not derived from human plasma, the risk of blood-borne viruses and contaminants is avoided. The invention has been reduced to practice and is benefitting thousands of individuals afflicted with hemophilia, enabling them to lead productive and normal lives. Vehar and Wood are presently staff scientists with Genentech, Inc. Capon is currently affiliated with ViroLogic and Genetic Information Systems, both companies he founded, and Lawn has worked with CV Therapeutics since 1998.

Bernard S. Meyerson, Director of Telecommunications Technology, IBM Corporation, is also being recognized as a Distinguished Inventor. Mr. Meyerson's invention is covered in patents issued in 1994 and 1997 that provide the method and apparatus for high-volume manufacturing of silicon germanium (SiGe) transistors. Silicon germanium (SiGe) devices are capable of operating faster and with lower power requirements than common silicon devices. SiGe transistors are ideally suited for wireless communications and leading-edge digital applications. IBM believes these devices "will likely become the core chip technology enabling a wide variety of hand-held communications and computing devices connected to voice and data networks." SiGe technology is currently in commercial use in a number of applications, such as in systems that use optical fiber to transmit data at 10 billion bits per second over 100-km distances, and for producing high-precision equipment for commercial surveying in digital radio receivers 1/100th the size of conventional units. SiGe technology is also being used in a chip set for a product that allows computers to connect and automatically form networks without cabling, and soon to be used in cellular telephone chip sets. Industry analysts predicts the sales volume for SiGe products to be about $2 billion dollars by 2005.

Past winners include some of the nation's best known inventors, including John Cocke, an inventor of Reduced Instruction Set Computing (RISC) for IBM Corp., and Amar G. Bose, founder of Bose Corporation and inventor of loud speaker systems. Other earlier winners include James L. Fergason for his contributions to liquid crystal technology, Robert Jarvik for the Jarvik 7 artificial heart, and Paul Macready for a human-powered flying machine.

The National Inventor of the Year award has been given each year since 1974. Nominations are received from industry, universities, government and independent inventors.

IPO Executive Director Herbert C. Wamsley is urging the media to pay more attention to American inventors who are pushing forward the frontiers of technology. According to Wamsley, "Our inventors are a national resource. We should encourage them to give us a continuing stream of new products to strengthen the economy and improve our standard of living."


An Association Serving Owners of Patents, Trademarks,

Copyrights, and Trade Secrets

WHAT: Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO)--A non-profit association with programs to improve patent, copyright, trademark, and trade secret laws. Working to protect and improve the intellectual property systems that are vital to America's technological and economic leadership by combining the voices of large, medium and small businesses, independent inventors, authors, and patent attorneys.

A resource providing up-to-the-minute information on intellectual property-related bills and all intellectual property issues.

WHY: To help America maintain technological and economic leadership by safeguarding the intellectual property systems that give vital incentives to technological innovation, creativity, and business investment.

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