Pharmexa Loses European Patent Appeal for Broad Claims to Telomerase-Based Cancer Vaccines
"We are pleased with the decision," said David J. Earp, J.D., Ph.D., Geron's chief patent counsel and senior vice president of business development. "It confirms that Pharmexa cannot obtain a patent to something already covered by Geron's previously published patent application."
The Pharmexa patent had been granted with broad claims covering the use of telomerase peptides and nucleic acids for cancer immunotherapy. Geron filed an opposition requesting that the EPO revoke the patent based, in part, on Geron's earlier patent filings covering telomerase. In 2005, the Opposition Division of the EPO revoked the claims of Pharmexa's patent as granted, replacing them with narrow claims limited to five specific peptide sequences. That decision defeated Pharmexa's attempt to obtain claims that would read on Geron's telomerase cancer vaccine, GRNVAC1, which is currently in clinical trials.
Pharmexa appealed the decision to the EPO Technical Board of Appeals ("TBA") and sought to restore the broad claims by resubmitting a "main request" with the claims as originally granted, while Geron asked for all claims to be revoked. In the hearing on Aug. 30, 2007, the TBA found that Pharmexa was not entitled to the broad claims in its main request, or to the claims of sixteen alternative claim sets that Pharmexa had also submitted. The TBA found that Pharmexa was only entitled to claims limited to the five specific small peptides of telomerase, consistent with the decision of the Opposition Division.
"The decision means that Pharmexa has failed in its attempt to obtain broad claims to telomerase-based cancer vaccines," continued Earp. "Moreover, Pharmexa is not licensed under Geron's telomerase patents, which include an issued U.S. patent and a pending European application covering immunogenic telomerase peptides. Geron is committed to protecting its investment in telomerase technology through this patent portfolio."
Geron is developing first-in-class biopharmaceuticals for the treatment of cancer and chronic degenerative diseases, including spinal cord injury, heart failure, diabetes and HIV/AIDS. The company is advancing an anti-cancer drug and a cancer vaccine that target the enzyme telomerase through multiple clinical trials. Geron is also the world leader in the development of human embryonic stem cell-based therapeutics, with its spinal cord injury treatment anticipated to be the first product to enter clinical development. For more information, visit www.geron.com.
This news release may contain forward-looking statements made pursuant to the "safe harbor" provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Investors are cautioned that such forward-looking statements in this press release regarding potential applications of Geron's human embryonic stem cell technology constitute forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties, including, without limitation, risks inherent in the development and commercialization of potential products, uncertainty of clinical trial results or regulatory approvals or clearances, need for future capital, dependence upon collaborators and maintenance of our intellectual property rights. Actual results may differ materially from the results anticipated in these forward-looking statements. Additional information on potential factors that could affect our results and other risks and uncertainties are detailed from time to time in Geron's periodic reports, including the quarterly report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended June 30, 2007.
David L. Greenwood, 650-473-7765
Chief Financial Officer
Russo Partners, LLC
David Schull, 858-717-2310 (Media)
Matthew Haines, 212-845-4235 (Investors)
Posted: September 2007