BIO Members Receive Patents for Humanity Award

Patently BIOtech

The United States Patent and Trademark Office announced the winners of the Patents for Humanity awards. “The Patents for Humanity is a competition recognizing patent owners and licensees who address global challenges in health and standards of living.”

The USPTO website provides this background on the BIO member winners:

“Gilead Sciences

“Of the 35 million people worldwide suffering from HIV, 95% live in developing countries. Gilead produces antiretroviral therapies for the treatment of HIV. They have partnered with a number generics manufacturers in India and South Africa to provide generic versions of their HIV drugs at low cost in developing countries. 3.5 million patients in low- and middle-income countries now receive Gilead based HIV therapy, representing over 40% of all patients in these countries receiving therapy. Gilead also provides staff and resources to support ground operations in developing regions. In the U.S., Gilead works with federal and state governments to expand access to HIV medicines for low-income individuals and those without health insurance.

“University of California, Berkeley

“Artemisinin is a critical anti-malarial drug which is extracted from Artemisia plants in Africa, China and Vietnam. Growing cycles and variations in crop yield produce variable supplies of artemisinin, creating volatility in price and availability. When UC Berkeley researchers engineered a yeast strain that manufactures artemisinin, the Office of Intellectual Property and Industry Research Alliances (IPIRA) crafted humanitarian use terms for their IP licenses and collaboration agreements to address accessibility and affordability in the developing world. The university then partnered with Amyris (a Berkeley spin-out company), the Gates Foundation, the Institute for One World Health, and ultimately Sanofi, to translate the initial research into a production-ready technology.

“Ten years ago UC Berkeley launched a program of socially responsible licensing to provide low-cost treatments and technologies to people in developing countries, and nuanced IP management strategies to increase the positive social impact of a new technology. Artemisinin is its most prominent success – Sanofi will release the first semi-synthetic arteminisin based on UC Berkeley’s invention on April 11. But IPIRA has also launched other projects under the program through a combination of “humanitarian use” contract clauses and new business models. These include nutritionally fortified sorghum, a microscope that attaches to a cellphone to allow easy sharing of medical images from the field, portable diagnostic devices, water purification filters, new drug targets and pesticide-free, disease-resistant crops.

“DuPont Pioneer

“Sorghum is a staple crop for nearly 300 million people in Africa. DuPont Pioneer has developed genetically improved sorghum with increased levels and stability of pro-vitamin A and enhanced protein digestibility, in addition to improved bioavailability of iron and zinc. DuPont partners with African organizations, especially in Kenya and Nigeria, by providing training and technical assistance to African scientists to incorporate the improvements into local sorghum varieties.  Initial work was supported by the Gates Foundation.”

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