Heidelberg, Germany and Woodlands, Texas-based biotech firm Molecular Health has announced the granting of a European patent for its technology called “Tissue Protective Erythropoietin Receptor.” The patent protects Molecular Health’s intellectual property in its discovery that 2050/Ephrin type-B receptor 4 (EPHB4) is a novel receptor for Erythropoietin (EPO), where EPHB4 binds to EPO promoting tumor growth. Ephrin receptors and their ligands, the ephrins, mediate numerous developmental processes.
Erythropoietin is a glycoprotein hormone that controls erythropoiesis, or red blood cell production. The cytokine (a broad and diverse category of small proteins (~5–20 kDa) important in cell signaling that affect behavior of other cells, and sometimes the releasing-cell itself) protein signaling molecule EPO stimulates red blood cell production and is prescribed to treat kidney failure or cancer treatment related anemia.
Approximately 40 percent of cancer patients are anemic, as are nearly 90 percent of cancer patients while receiving chemotherapy treatment. Through analysis of cancer patient outcomes and available molecular data, Molecular Health scientists have developed a technique for detecting this novel receptor through utilization of Molecular Health’s proprietary computational biomarker discovery platform which enables the company to support biopharmaceutical industry treatment research and development.
Molecular Health notes that Erythropoietin therapy has been found to have serious adverse side-effects in some cases, including accelerated tumor growth and death. Consequently, healthcare providers have to receive special training prior to prescribing EPO, potentially limiting access and treatment effectiveness for their patients.
“Molecular Health’s latest patent has the opportunity to further address an unmet need in the treatment of millions of cancer patients suffering with anemia,” says Lutz Voelker, Chief Executive Officer of Molecular Health, in a release.
Granting of the European patent enhances opportunity for alleviating treatment toxicities and improving benefits associated with EPO therapy in cancer patients. Combined, Molecular Health’s multiple patents detail methods of determining whether a cancer patient is suitable for EPO therapy by identifying, among other things, the level of expression of a novel erythropoietin receptor EPHB4.
Molecular Health also holds corresponding patents in the United States and Canada, and is exploring several commercialization channels for offering a predictive test based upon its patented methods.
Molecular Health with a total of about 100 employees in 2014 and plans to grow substantially, maintains operational facilities in Heidelberg, Germany, Boston, Massachusetts, and Houston, Texas, where CLIA and CAP certified sequencing laboratory services are also provided.
Molecular Health GmbH
National Institutes of Health