By Donald Zuhn --
Last week, Vermillion, Inc. announced that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office had issued a Notice of Allowance for its application directed to diagnostic methods using hepcidin as a biomarker for ovarian cancer. The patent that eventually issues from the allowed application will be the Fremont, CA-based molecular diagnostics company's third U.S. patent.
A search of the USPTO Published Applications database and Public PAIR suggests that the Notice of Allowance described in Vermillion's press release was mailed for U.S. Application No. 11/373,833, which is entitled "Biomarker for Ovarian and Endometrial Cancer: Hepcidin," and which was published on March 8, 2007 as U.S. Patent Application Publication No. 2007/0054329. The Public PAIR record for this application indicates that the Notice of Allowance was mailed on November 17, 2008. Vermillion's patent is expected to issue sometime within the next four months.
According to the statement released by Vermillion, "the discovery of hepcidin as a biomarker for ovarian cancer . . . could ultimately lead to the development of an improved, next-generation assay that might provide physicians with additional, valuable information to diagnose ovarian cancer." Ovarian cancer leads to approximately 15,000 deaths each year in the United States, with approximately 20,000 new cases of ovarian cancer being diagnosed per year. The majority of new diagnoses are made in patients with late stage disease, where the cancer has spread beyond the ovary. The prognosis for these patients is, unfortunately, poor. However, when detected in stage 1, ovarian cancer has up to a 90% cure rate following surgery and/or chemotherapy.
The '833 application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/662,090, filed March 11, 2005. Allowed claim 1 of the '799 application, which includes amendments introduced by Examiner's Amendment, recites:
The claim, as presented in Vermillion's last response, recited: