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PROTEIN ENGINEERING CORP. AWARDED FIRST BROAD U.S. PATENT FOR MOLECULAR EVOLUTION OF PROTEINS

 CAMBRIDGE, Mass., June 30 /PRNewswire/ -- Protein Engineering Corporation (PEC) announced today that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has issued to the company a fundamental patent (No. 5,223,409) on molecular evolution of proteins. The patent covers use of bacteriophage and cells to display and select variants of virtually any protein or structured peptide. This invention enables rapid generation of novel proteins that bind with high affinity and specificity to chosen biological targets such as enzymes and cell receptors. It is the first broad U.S. patent to issue on the molecular evolution of proteins.
 "Molecular evolution is the fundamental process underlying the evolution of life," commented Robert C. Ladner, Ph.D. cofounder and scientific director of PEC. "In nature, evolution in a population results from the combination of genetic variation, selection for advantageous traits, and reproduction of the individuals. The method PEC has pioneered accelerates the way nature evolves proteins by driving selection toward newly evolved proteins that bind to the target molecule of pharmaceutical significance."
 "The molecular evolution patent has very broad claims and provides PEC with a dominant proprietary position for our core technology," commented William M. Wardell, M.D., Ph.D., president of Protein Engineering Corporation. "We can now harness this powerful technology to customize a variety of proteins for diagnosing and treating human diseases. In addition, our technology can aid drug discovery by producing proteins that can serve as structural templates for the creation of small-molecule drugs. The combination of molecular evolution with structure-based drug design opens up even wider possibilities for drug discovery."
 The PEC patent is titled "Directed Evolution of Novel Binding Proteins." The method involves expressing proteins on the outer surfaces of genetic packages such as bacteriophage and cells. Chosen DNA inside the packages is extensively altered in a controlled manner to create valuable variants of the proteins, which are selected and isolated by their affinity to the desired molecular target. The new proteins can range in size from 8-amino acid "micro-proteins" to proteins with several hundred amino acids such as antibodies.
 PEC has utilized its patented molecular evolution method to engineer a variety of new proteins, including the drug candidate molecule EPI-HNE-1, the most potent known inhibitor of human neutrophil elastase discovered to date. Human neutrophil elastase plays a role in pulmonary diseases such as cystic fibrosis, bronchitis and emphysema. PEC published the findings in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 1992, titled "Directed Evolution of a Protein."
 The inventors of the molecular evolution patent are Robert C. Ladner, Ph.D., Sonia K. Guterman, Ph.D., Bruce L. Roberts, Ph.D., William Markland, Ph.D., Arthur C. Ley, Ph.D. and Rachel B. Kent, Ph.D. In addition to this effort, Dr. Ladner has pioneered the fields of single chain antibodies and DNA binding proteins.
 The molecular evolution patent is a significant addition to PEC's patent portfolio which now numbers 3 issued U.S. patents with several pending U.S. and foreign applications. In March 1993, PEC was issued another key patent (U.S. 5,198,346) "Generation and Selection of Novel DNA-binding Proteins and Polypeptides." This patent covers methods for engineering proteins that bind to any predetermined DNA sequence, expanding the protein structures claimed in a related patent issued to PEC in 1992.
 Protein Engineering Corporation was founded in 1987 to develop powerful, proprietary technology to create novel, patentable proteins for use as pharmaceuticals and diagnostics. Company headquarters are located in Cambridge, Mass.
 -0- 6/30/93
 /CONTACT: John H. Freeman, chairman and CEO, Protein Engineering Corporation, 617-868-0868, ext. 227; or Lynne H. Brum, Feinstein Partners Inc., 617-577-8110, for Protein Engineering Corporation/


CO: Protein Engineering Corporation ST: Massachusetts IN: MTC SU:

DJ -- NE001 -- 7016 06/30/93 09:09 EDT
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Date:Jun 30, 1993
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