How to Patent an Antibody

Note: Charles Craik, PhD, three-time Catalyst Program awardee (Spring 2018, Fall 2016, Spring 2012) shares his insights on intellectual property with the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

By Laurel Oldach via ASBMB Today

Charles Craik knows a lot about patenting research findings.

The University of California, San Francisco, professor of pharmaceutical chemistry and protease expert is named as an inventor on 16 patents with six under review, most recently a series of antibodies targeting the urokinase-type plasminogen activator receptor pathway to both image and treat aggressive and recurring cancers. He also has taught in a course involving intellectual property at UCSF for several years. Craik sat down with ASBMB Today writer Laurel Oldach to talk about Amgen Inc. v. Sanofi et al., a lawsuit over antibody patents that has generated a lot of buzz in biotechnology. Their conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

Do you think a lot about patents and patenting?

Charles Craik
Charly Craik, pictured here in his office at the University of California, San Francisco, says he enjoys figuring out how to protect an invention “so someone can make money off it and the cycle can continue." Photo: Cindy Chew/UCSF

I definitely think about it a lot. I’m an academic professor, so that’s my job 100 percent of the time. But in my spare time, I have started companies, and I’ve learned certain things in the lab that have been very practical. I’m still learning. Perhaps more than an average person, I think about the practical applications of my work.

As an assistant professor, I helped validate HIV protease as a therapeutic target in 1990. I don’t have the patent on HIV protease — we got the crystal structure, and we made it available — but I did work with companies so they could develop compounds that could target the enzyme and provide the basis for making a pharmaceutical.

I definitely believe that it’s good to patent things, because in my opinion, if pharmaceutical companies are going to invest their money in developing a drug, they need to have it protected so they can try to recoup some of those costs.

I don’t think everything should be patented, and I don’t spend all my time just thinking about patents, but when there is something that can be a practical invention, I enjoy going through the process of figuring out how to get it protected so someone can make money off it and the cycle can continue for the development of future drugs.

And I’ve been told multiple times by companies, big and small, “If you don’t get a patent, Charly, we will not be able to work with you.”

Read the full article here via ASBMB Today