publication date: May. 24, 2019

Dana-Farber wins legal dispute over PD-1/PD-L1 patents; BMS set to lose exclusive license

By Paul Goldberg

So, you’ve finished your copy of the Mueller Report and you long for another great read from the same publisher—the U.S. government.

If you are that person, click here and help yourself to last week’s ruling in Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s suit seeking rights to PD-1/PD-L1 patents.

On May 17, Chief U.S. District Court Judge Patti B. Saris of the U.S. District Court of the District of Massachusetts produced 111 pages of riveting nonfiction, ruling that Dana-Farber is entitled to intellectual property rights to six patents that claim methods of treating cancer by administering anti-PD-1 or anti-PD-L1 antibodies.

This legal tussle has a Stockholm angle.

The 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine went to one of the defendants, Tasuku Honjo, of Kyoto University, who shared the prize with Jim Allison, now of MD Anderson Cancer Center. (Allison’s work plays no role in this dispute.)

Some readers of Saris’s multi-layered exegesis report getting a good laugh, while others shake their heads in amazement. As scientists increasingly work in close international collaborations, how do you tease out contributions that merit patent claims—and the Nobel Prize—from those that don’t?

Here are the principal characters in the Saris ruling:

There is Honjo, one of the named inventors, who in the early 1990s discovered a receptor expressed on mouse immune cells, naming the molecule “PD-1,” which stands for “programmed death.”

Honjo’s collaborators on this side of the Pacific (and at the heart of this dispute) are Dana-Farber researchers Gordon Freeman and Clive Wood, formerly of the Genetics … Continue reading Dana-Farber wins legal dispute over PD-1/PD-L1 patents; BMS set to lose exclusive license

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