Tuesday, Nov 3, 1987
South San Francisco, Calif. -- November 3, 1987 --The United States Patent and Trademark Office today awarded Genentech, Inc. (NASDAQ:GNE) a patent on basic systems for the production of useful proteins in recombinant microorganisms, now widely used in biotechnology.
"The broad coverage of this patent is recognition of Genentech's pioneering scientific efforts," said Robert A. Swanson, chief executive officer of Genentech. "We do not intend to use the patent to block the creation of new pharmaceuticals made possible through biotechnology. We intend to license the patent at reasonable rates on a case-by-case basis."
The patent relates to a technique by which a microorganism can be directed to produce desired protein it would not ordinarily make. When this was first done by Genentech in 1977, it was hailed by Phillip Handler, then president of the National Academy of Sciences, as "a scientific triumph of the first order." The technique covered by the patent makes it possible and practical to use microorganisms as tiny "factories" to produce medically useful biological materials.
The research leading to the patent was the first conducted by Genentech following its formation in 1976. It was carried out the companys South San Francisco facility and, under Genentech sponsorship, at the University of California at San Francisco and City of Hope National Medical Center in Duarte, California. Named as inventors were Drs. Keichi Itakura and Arthur Riggs of the City of Hope.
The patent has already issued in more than 20 other countries. Genentech is a leading biotechnology company, focusing on the development, manufacture and marketing of pharmaceuticals produced by recombinant DNA technology.
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