Ponce Health Sciences University team secures patent
Three scientists, inventors developed a treatment to reduce progression of endometriosis
SAN JUAN — The Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust (PRSTRT) Technology Transfer Office (TTO) announced that a new U.S. Patent was issued for the Ponce Health Sciences University (PHSU) team of three women scientists for a new potential treatment for endometriosis thanks to an inter-institutional agreement between the TTO, the Ponce Medical School Foundation (PMSF) and the University of Texas, Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV). The team is composed of inventors Dr. Annelyn Torres-Reveron, Dr. Caroline Appleyard and Dr. Idhaliz Flores, with PMSF support from Dr. Kenira Thompson.
“Repurposing of existing drugs for its use in chronic conditions such as endometriosis, is a crucial strategy to fast-track new therapies into the clinical setting much faster and at lower cost compared to the traditional drug-discovery process,” Torres-Reveron, who provided leadership for the effort first at PHSU and then from UTRGV, said in a media release.
Appleyard, also one of the creators of the contribution’s conceptualization said: “It’s gratifying to see this translational end-product result from a long, ongoing collaboration to investigate novel potential therapeutic options for targeting this often debilitating disease.”
“As scientists we are not taught that our work can be licensed and developed into products that benefit patients. Maybe, one day, our basic science work can lead to novel treatments or diagnostics,” said Flores, a pioneer in endometriosis research who was also one of seven awardees of the “Ideas-to-Products” (I2P) Biomedical Research Awards by the NIH’s Southeast XLerator Network whose leadership in Puerto Rico is provided by the PRSTRT TTO and its local university partners.
Endometriosis is a disorder in which endometrial tissue is found outside the uterus causing pain, infertility, and stress. Finding effective, non-hormonal and long-term treatments for endometriosis still remains one of the most significant challenges in the field.
The scientists were able to reduce the progression of endometriotic lesions with a short treatment of the corticotropin-releasing hormone receptor antagonist: antalarmin, while alleviating symptoms such as stress, and anxiety. According to the TTO’s Non-Confidential Summary of the patent: “A single week of antalarmin administration after endometriosis induction in a rat model reduced the size of endometriotic vesicles by 67%, and the number of vesicles by 30%, upon 53 days of treatment completion. Therefore, a short-term treatment produced long-lasting therapeutic effects.”
“We are very proud to be part of this accomplishment of securing the first US patent for this research team. After an inter-institutional agreement was completed between the universities, the TTO managed the invention and patent prosecution. Our main goal is to attract companies for a research collaboration and/or a license to commercialize the invention and ultimately make it available for patients,” said Dr. David Gulley, director of the trust’s TTO.
Gulley explained the TTO role to support this scientific discovery: “After the discovery is disclosed, the TTO manages the patent application and its prosecution with a law firm that has expertise in the science or technology area. When a patent application is successful, the patent issues, and may take from 1 to 3 years. This case is now in the marketing stage with the goal of finding companies interested in an R&D collaboration or a license to further develop the invention through the pre-clinical and clinical development stages.”
The marketing platform used by the TTO is called IN-PART which connects university research assets to over 5,500 R&D companies in the network.
“Once a company expresses interest, the TTO manages the relationship, executes the needed agreements, and manages the license terms: progress toward commercialization, patent prosecution, and financial aspects through the license term which is typically 20 years,” Gulley added.
“We are proud to see that the research work of three scientists from PHSU begins to bear significant fruit in the development of treatments for endometriosis. We recognize their dedication in this project, and value their commitment to the sciences that help improve the lives and health, in this case, of women. This is an important achievement not only for the Ponce Health Sciences University but also for all of Puerto Rico, since the contributions of women in science are recognized and highlighted,” said Dr. Kenira Thompson, president of Ponce Research Institute and vice president of research at PHSU.
For more information about the collaborations of the Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust and its TTO Program, visit https://prsciencetrust.org/tech-transfer-office-2/ For more information about the Research program of the PHSU, visit https://www.psm.edu/
The Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust is a non-profit organization created to promote the participation and creation of jobs on the island in the global knowledge economy by promoting investment and financing of research and development of science and technology.
Its goal is that by 2022, Puerto Rico will be a center of global recognition that develops and retains scientists, companies and entrepreneurs to boost the island’s competitiveness. It is also responsible for Puerto Rico’s public policy for science, technology, research and development, and public health. For more information, vist www.prsciencetrust.org