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UMMS and CIW grant key RNAi rights to Oxford Biomedica

WORCESTER, MA, AND WASHINGTON, DCThe University of Massachusetts Medical School and the Carnegie Institution of Washington announced today that they have entered into licensing agreements with Oxford BioMedica (LSE: OXB), a gene therapy company, that grants the company rights to key RNA interference (RNAi) patent rights.

The technology was invented by Nobel-prize winning scientists Andrew Z. Fire, PhD, and Craig C. Mello, PhD, and their colleagues. The seminal patent claiming this technology was first granted in the United States by the United States Patent and Trademark Office in 2003. Additional patent rights have been issued in Australia and other US and foreign applications are pending.

This seminal patent covers a process by which ribonucleic acid (RNA), the cellular material responsible for the transmission of genetic information, can silence a targeted gene within a living cell. The process, called RNA interference (RNAi), can shut down disease-causing genes or direct researchers to pathways for effective drug development.

Under the terms of the license agreements, Oxford BioMedica obtains non-exclusive rights in accordance with the established licensing program of the Carnegie Institution and the University of Massachusetts Medical School, as well as certain exclusive rights for human gene therapy applications of RNA interference using lentiviral vectors. A lentiviral vector is based on a type of virus that infects dividing and nondividing cells and stores its genetic information on a single-strand of RNA instead of the more usual double-stranded DNA. In exchange, Oxford BioMedica will pay an upfront payment, annual maintenance fees, milestone payments, and royalties on sales. Further details were not disclosed.

James P. McNamara, PhD, Executive Director of the Office of Technology Management of the University of Massachusetts Medical School commented: As the Medical School looks toward the convergence of RNAi, gene therapy, and cellular therapy, including stem cells as medical treatments, the potential drug development opportunities presented by Oxfords lentiviral vector delivery technology is intriguing to us. We have structured these license agreements to help the company pursue novel applications of RNA interference based on their established broad IP in the lentiviral vector delivery space. Our hope is to see the further advancement of the RNAi field toward novel therapies in the public interest.

To date, the Carnegie Institution, acting upon behalf of itself and the University of Massachusetts Medical School under an interinstitutional agreement, has granted approximately 50 non-exclusive licenses to companies using this invention.

All rights granted under the licensing agreements with Oxford BioMedica are subject to the concurrent rights of the existing non-exclusive licensees. The Carnegie Institution and the University of Massachusetts Medical School further anticipate continuing to issue new licenses for research and other purposes in this promising field.

The University of Massachusetts Medical School and the Carnegie Institution of Washington have entered into these agreements to promote the fullest development of the patent rights with anticipated benefits to the general public.


Contact: Alison Duffy
University of Massachusetts Medical School

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