UK court slaps down HGS patent

Human Genome Sciences--and other biotechs that made claims to parts of the human genetic sequence--have been dealt a blow by the U.K. The High Court yesterday ruled on the first case to question the patentability of discoveries made through the use of bioinformatics. Back in the 1990s, as scientists came to better understand the human genome, biotech companies rushed to patent genes, proteins and human cells for future research work. HGS grabbed one such patent on a disease-linked protein known as neutrokine-alpha. But now the High Court has revoked that patent, saying that "the company had failed to identify any practical use at the time its application had been filed," according to the Financial Times.

That's bad news for HGS, which is working with GlaxoSmithKline to develop a neutrokine-alpha antibody drug called lymphostat. It's a boon for Eli Lilly, however, which is developing its own neutrokine-alpha antibody drug.

- read the Financial Times summary

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