Dana-Farber scores legal win on immunotherapy patents likely worth billions: 6 things to know

In a major win for  Boston-based Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, a federal court ruled that one of its researchers should be listed as an inventor on six patents that are believed to be worth billions of dollars.

Six things to know:

1. The six patents are related to immunotherapy drugs, which use a patient's immune system to fight cancer.

2. At the heart of the dispute is a molecular pathway known as PD-1/PD-L1, the basis of  several immunotherapy drugs studied by collaborating U.S. and Japanese researchers. The project was led by Tasuku Honjo, MD, PhD, of Kyoto University, who won a Nobel Prize for the research.

3. Dr. Honjo and Ono Pharmaceuticals, a Japanese drugmaker, were listed as the only inventors on the six patents for cancer immunotherapy.

4. In 2015, Dana-Farber filed a suit to amen  the inventorship portion of the patent, arguing that the U.S. researchers — including Dana Farber's Gordon Freeman, PhD, and another scientist not affiliated with the cancer center, Clive Wood, PhD — also deserved to be listed as inventors on the patents due to their contributions to the research.

5. Last week, federal Judge Patti Saris ruled that the two U.S. scientists are co-inventors of the cancer immunotherapy patents and ordered the patents to be corrected to name Drs. Freeman and Wood.

6. The ruling, which will likely be appealed, would allow Dana-Farber to license the intellectual property behind the patents to companies developing any PD-1 and PD-L1 cancer therapies.

Read the full news release here.

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