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Patent Awarded for Cancer Antibody Delivery Technology

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (A. Kotok/Flickr)

2 April 2014. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office awarded a patent for a technology that connects antibodies and cancer drugs to target and deliver treatments directly to tumor cells. Patent number 8,685,383 was awarded yesterday to nine inventors and assigned to Mersana Therapeutics Inc., a biopharmaceutical company in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Timothy Lowinger, Mersana’s chief scientist, is one of the inventors.

The patent covers Mersana’s process for combining drugs to attack cancer cells with antibodies that locate and bind to the target cancer cells, used in a class of drug known as antibody drug conjugates. These drugs offer physicians and patients therapies that treat cancer more precisely, with greater payloads and fewer side effects that many current treatment options, such as chemotherapy.

Mersana’s technology, which it calls Fleximer and described in the patent, uses a polymer scaffold to integrate the targeting antibodies with the cancer drugs. The antibody seeks out unique protein biomarkers on the surface of tumor cells, which after binding, allows for the release of the cancer drug directly into the tumor cells. The company says the polymer in the scaffold is biocompatible and biodegradable, which keeps the drug stable and intact until delivered.

The company says the technology was tested in preclinical studies with lab animals, and is now in early-stage clinical trials. One trial is testing the safety and effects on the body of its product code-named XMT-1001 with lung cancer patients. The other trial is a similar test of Mersana’s XMT-1007 product in patients with advanced solid tumors (e.g., prostate or breast cancer).

Mersana in 2012 began a collaboration with Endo Pharmaceuticals, licensing the Fleximer technology to Endo for development and commercialization of a drug against a specific (but unnamed) cancer target. The deal has an option to extend the collaboration to two more targets. Mersana also has a licensing deal with Teva Pharmaceutical Industries.

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