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VistaGen Secures Key U.S. Stem Cell Technology Patent

Published: Thursday, April 26, 2012
Last Updated: Thursday, April 26, 2012
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United States patent covers the company's proprietary methods used to measure and type the toxic effects produced by drug compounds in liver stem cells.

Test methods included in this new patent, (U.S. Patent 11/445,733), titled "Toxicity Typing Using Liver Stem Cells," cover all mammalian liver stem cells -- rat and mouse cells, for example, in addition to human cells. Liver stem cells used in drug testing can be derived from in vivo tissue or produced from embryonic stem cells (ES) or induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS).

H. Ralph Snodgrass, Ph.D., VistaGen's President and Chief Scientific Officer, said, "This patent covers the monitoring of changes in gene expression as an assay for predicting drug toxicities. It is well known that drugs activate and suppress specific genes, and that the changes in gene expression reflect the mechanism of drug toxicities. The specific sets of genes that are affected become a profile of that drug."

VistaGen's new patent also covers techniques used to develop a database of gene expression profiles of drugs that have the same type of liver toxicity. Using sophisticated "pattern matching" database tools, drug developers can analyze these related profiles to determine "gene expression signatures" that are common and predictive of drugs that produce specific types of toxicity.

"Without this database capability, a drug's single gene expression profile could not be interpreted," Dr. Snodgrass added. "The ability to use liver stem cells to differentiate drug-dependent gene expression profiles, and to compare those profiles of drugs known to induce toxic liver effects, provides a powerful tool for predicting liver toxicity of new drug candidates, including drug rescue variants."

Shawn K. Singh, VistaGen's Chief Executive Officer, stated, "Strong and enforceable intellectual property rights are critical components of our plan to optimize the commercial potential of our Human Clinical Trials in a Test Tube(TM) platform. This new liver toxicity typing patent further solidifies our growing IP portfolio, and supports the continuing development of LiverSafe 3D(TM), our human liver cell-based bioassay system, which complements our CardioSafe 3D human heart cell-based bioassay system for heart toxicity."

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