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VARIAGENICS announces issuance of United States patent for Mthfr gene.

VARIAGENICS, INC. (Cambridge, MA; 617-588-5318) announced that the United States Patent and Trademark Office has issued United States Patent 6,074,821 entitled "cDNA for Human Methylenetetrahydrofolate Reductase." Assigned to McGill University (Montreal, Canada), the patent has been exclusively licensed to VARIAGENICS under the terms of a March 25, 1999 agreement. In connection with the licensing arrangement, VARIAGENICS is supporting research in the laboratory of professor Rima Rozen at McGill University. Dr. Rozen, who cloned the human methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase gene and subsequently identified variant forms of the gene that affect folate metabolism, is currently continuing investigations regarding the importance of methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase in a variety of diseases, including cancer and cardiovascular disease.

The methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase genotype has been shown to affect blood levels of homocysteine and folates, which in turn affect risk of a number of diseases and disorders including cardiovascular and central nervous system diseases, and cancer. The issued claims cover methods for determining methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase levels based upon genotype, as well as methods for associating methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase deficiency with the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancers, neurological disorders, and disorders influenced by folic acid metabolism, or the prognosis of patients with these diseases. It is believed that such an association may lead to the development of specific genetic diagnostic tests useful in determining diagnosis, prognosis and therapeutic benefit of treatment regimens for patients with such disorders.

"VARIAGENICS is intensively investigating pharmacologically important pathways, and methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase is a key e nzyme in the folate pathway," said Vincent P. Stanton, PhD, vice president and principal scientist at VARIAGENICS. "Folate metabolism plays an important role in both pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic behavior of a variety of drugs. The McGill research collaboration and the licensing of the methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase patent allows VARIAGENICS to move ahead with the continued development of new diagnostic tools that ultimately may be useful for both disease risk assessment and pharmacogenetic purposes."

"We believe MTHFR is a very significant gene because the metabolism of folate is central to so many different metabolic processes, and consequently is associated with a variety of diseases," said Dr. Rima Rozen of McGill University.

VARIAGENICS through its proprietary technology platform, identifies clinically important variances (single-nucleotide polymorphisms) in genes that affect drug action and applies this information to the discovery and development of new pharmaceutical products, diagnostic products, and disease-management practices.
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Comment:VARIAGENICS announces issuance of United States patent for Mthfr gene.
Publication:BIOTECH Patent News
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 2000
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