More MS news articles for June 2001

Avigen Granted Patent Covering New Vaccine Technology Using AAV Vectors

Avigen Exclusively Licenses All Rights From Co-Inventor, Stanford University, Including Those That May Be Useful in Treating AIDS, Cancer, and Autoimmune Diseases

Wednesday June 20  8:03am
Source: PR Newswire

ALAMEDA, Calif., June 20 /PRNewswire/ -- Avigen, Inc. (Nasdaq: AVGN) today announced another important addition to its growing adeno-associated virus (AAV) vector patent portfolio with the issuance of United States Patent No. 6,242,426, which covers innovative ways of developing vaccines against a wide variety of diseases, including AIDS and cancer. The new approach takes advantage of the many unique features of AAV vectors, including a natural ability to deliver genes to many cell types, and an excellent safety profile. The vectors are also high stable, allowing them to be manufactured, stored and handled like more traditional pharmaceutical products.

Avigen also today announced the signing of a license with Stanford University giving Avigen exclusive rights to commercialize the new technology covered by the patent.

As described in the patent, Avigen scientists, in collaboration with researchers at Stanford, pioneered the use of AAV vectors as a delivery vehicle for certain proteins known as antigens. Antigens prime the immune system to fight off foreign invaders such as viruses and bacteria, and also stimulate the immune system to destroy cancer cells. Working like a traditional vaccine, the technology enables AAV vectors to be engineered with genes that code for antigens. A number of diseases can potentially be targeted using the new technology including AIDS and other infectious diseases, cancers (such as the skin cancer melanoma), and heart disease (when the bacterium chlamydia or other microorganisms are involved in the disease).

The AAV technology may also be used to deliver antigens that dampen the immune system: this process is called "immune tolerance." This approach may be desirable for treating diseases where the body's own immune system is involved in aiding or causing the disease. Three examples of these types of diseases are multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and Lou Gehrig's disease. Allergies and asthma also fit into this category.

The data supported multiple routes of administration, which is consistent with previous experiments conducted by Avigen. Avigen's prior work has demonstrated that more than one route of administration can be effective for delivering rAAV vectors into the body enabling them to express a protein designed to treat a certain disease. A notable example of this is Avigen's work on hemophilia. This work has led to Avigen's expanding patent portfolio covering several routes of administration including injections into muscle and veins. The patent claims presented in U. S. Patent No. 6,242,426, therefore, are not limited to any one delivery method.

"This represents an exciting possibility to develop and apply Avigen's core technology to areas such as autoimmune disorders, cancer, inflammatory diseases, and allergies," said Kenneth G. Chahine, Ph.D., J.D., Vice President of Business Development and Intellectual Property.

Avigen's AAV patent portfolio now includes 22 issued and licensed patents with extensive coverage of AAV as a gene delivery vehicle and its use in various inherited and acquired disorders. An additional 36 AAV patent applications are pending in the United States and over 300 AAV patent applications are pending in international markets. "We have built an impressive AAV patent portfolio," added Dr. Chahine. "In addition to patents protecting our proprietary virus-free manufacturing process, Avigen now has patents relating to the use of AAV vectors in treating disease indications such as hemophilia A, hemophilia B, anemia, cancer, multiple sclerosis, and lysosomal storage diseases."

Based in the San Francisco Bay area, Avigen, Inc., is a biotechnology company involved in the development of gene therapy products derived exclusively from AAV for the treatment of inherited and acquired diseases. Avigen's proposed gene therapy products are designed for in vivo administration to achieve the production of therapeutic proteins within the body. Additional information on Avigen's proprietary gene therapies can be found at

Note: This news release contains forward-looking statements relating to the effect of patents issued and licensed and the benefits that may be derived by the technology covered by the patents. These forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties. In particular, the foregoing discussion of the effect of patents issued and licensed involves the risks that third parties may be successful in challenging the patents, that granted claims may be held invalid or interpreted differently by a court of law, that other patents will issue that will block Avigen from commercializing the technology for the various diseases listed above, that new technologies will be developed that are superior in treating the diseases targeted by Avigen, and that the benefits that Avigen believes can be derived from the patented technology will not be realized due to difficulties encountered in the long and expensive process of the development of new technologies and the cost and uncertainty in obtaining regulatory approval for products based on such technologies. Other risks are detailed from time to time in documents filed by Avigen with the SEC, including Avigen's report on Form 10-K for the year ended June 30, 2000.

Source: Avigen, Inc.
Contact: Thomas J. Paulson, Chief Financial Officer of Avigen, Inc., 510-748-7150, or