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St. Michael’s and King Saud receive first joint patent

Toronto, February 10, 2012

By Leslie Shepherd

TORONTO, Ont., Feb. 10, 2010 – St. Michael's Hospital and King Saud University have received their first joint U.S. patent to use the BRCA1 gene as a therapy for cardiovascular disease.


Dr. Subodh Verma.
Dr. Subodh Verma, a cardiac surgeon at St. Michael's, and Dr. Mohammed Al-Omran, a vascular surgeon at the largest university in Saudi Arabia, are named as inventors on the patent issued Feb. 7.

Obtaining the patent is an initial step in realizing the potential of this innovative approach to treating one of the leading causes of death in Canada.

Dr. Verma's team published three papers in 2011, in Nature Communications, the Journal of Biological Chemistry and Gene Therapy, showing how the BRCA1 and 2 genes, which normally suppresses the growth of breast and ovarian tumours, also protect the heart.

Following a heart attack, mice with the mutated BRCA1 gene had a three-to-five times higher rate of death. This was largely due to the development of profound heart failure and poor DNA damage repair, leading to larger and more severe heart attacks.

Dr. Verma said the mutated BRCA1 gene may prevent DNA repair in muscle cells that is essential to recovery after a heart attack.

"The patent is also significant because it demonstrates how collaborative research between St. Michael's and King Saud University can help speed the transfer of medical discoveries from the laboratory bench to patient bedsides," said Dr. Arthur Slutsky, vice-president of research.

St. Michael's and King Saud jointly own the invention. The hospital has an agreement with the university and the inventors on how to share royalties. The hospital also has a commercialization partner, PARTEQ innovations, the technology transfer arm of Queen’s University.

About St. Michael's Hospital

St. Michael's Hospital provides compassionate care to all who enter its doors. The hospital also provides outstanding medical education to future health care professionals in more than 23 academic disciplines. Critical care and trauma, heart disease, neurosurgery, diabetes, cancer care, and care of the homeless are among the Hospital’s recognized areas of expertise. Through the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Center, which make up the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, research and education at St. Michael's Hospital are recognized and make an impact around the world. Founded in 1892, the hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.

For more information please contact:

Leslie Shepherd
Manager, Media Relations
Phone: 416-864-6094 or 647-300-1753
shepherdl@smh.ca