Ebola Virus Patents

Recent WHO statistics suggests that Ebola viral infection killed as many as 4,493 people across the world and the intensity of Ebola outbreak was most intense in West Africa. The strain of Ebola virus that caused the outbreak was the Zaire Ebola virus (EBOV).

Amidst this, there were speculation that the U.S. government will profit from an Ebola pandemic because they have a patent on the virus and potentially a cure. However, there is hardly any such possibility because US Govt. holds patents for EboBun, another strain of Ebola. In US, viruses and other disease-causing microbes can be patented so that these pathogens are available for research purposes in the public domain.

We did a quick patent search to see whether other countries hold patents on ebola.

Top 5 countries (ebola patents taking priority from these countries)

CountryNo. of Patents
US614
EP425
JP319
AU302
CA247

However, it is certain US Govt. departments and universities are the top 5 assignees of ebola patents.

Top 5 Assignees of Ebola Patents

  1. US National Institutes Of Health (NIH)
  2. US Department Of Health & Human Services
  3. Harvard College
  4. US Army
  5. Emory University

Some representative Ebola patents (of top 5 assignees) are enlisted below.

PatentFiling DateInventorAssignee
US20120251502 Human Ebola Virus Species and Compositions and Methods ThereofOct 26, 2009Jonathan S. Towner, Stuart T. Nichol, James A. Comer, Thomas G. Ksiazek, Pierre E. RollinThe Government of the US as Represented by the Secretary of the Dept. of health
US7736656 Immunogenic compositions and vaccines for EbolaFeb 28, 2005Mary Kate Hart, Gene Garrard Olinger, Jr.,Michael Adam BaileyThe United States Of America As Represented By The Secretary Of The Army
WO 2010042866 Agents immunonanothérapeutiques de nicotineOct 9, 2009Matteo Iannacone, Andrian Ulrich Von, Omid C. Farokhzad, Frank Alexis, Pamela Basto,Jinjun Shi, Ashley Moseman, Robert Langer,Elena TontiMassachusetts Institute Of Technology, President And Fellows Of Harvard College, The Brigham And Women’s Hospital, Inc.,
CA 2348957 Detection of negative-strand rna virusesOct 28, 1999Paul D. Olivo, Sondra Schlesinger, Mark E. Peeples, Peter CollinsWashington University, Paul D. Olivo, Sondra Schlesinger, Mark E. Peeples, Peter Collins, Rush Presbyterian St. Luke’s Medical Center, National Institute Of Health
US 7452530 Administering a blocking agent of tumor necrosis factors or receptors; treatment of Sin Nombre (SNV), Ebola, Marburg, Lassa, and Dengue viral diseaseApr 21, 2004Jeffrey L. Browning, Maryann Puglielli, Rafi Ahmed Emory University

Furthermore, we have gathered some info on these 2 ebola strains from life sciences team of Sagacious IP, headed by Mr. Khushwant Singh.

How the 2 ebola strains differ and why is only one of these potentially harmful?

  • Genetic level difference among the two strains

Due to expression/suppression of a specific gene(s) in the virus, one strain is more fatal and other is not. There is a possibility that due to Expression/Suppression of a particular protein/enzyme/lipid/structure, one strain is toxic and other is not

  • Effect on the host

There might be a difference in the way the strain act/replicate/affect the host.

  • Replication Cycle

It is a possibility that one strain replicate very fast and other strain is slow at its replication. Less replication time can be one of the reasons of the toxicity of one of the strain.

  • Target of the Virus

There might be a difference in the target of the two strains. The toxic strain might affect more vital organs of the host and therefore causing high toxicity, whereas less toxic strain does not affect the vital organs of the host.

  • Removal by defense system of the host

There is a possibility that one strain is removed by the defense system of the host and another toxic strain is not removed/affected by the defense system of the host, or maybe it has its own methods of protecting itself from the defense system of the host.

  • Difference in growth conditions

There might be a difference in conditions required for growth of the two strains. The toxic strain’s favorable growth condition (like: nutrition, temperature, pH etc.) are provided by the host system itself, whereas same conditions of the host are not favorable for the growth of the less toxic strain.

  • Spreading of the virus

There can be a difference in the mode in which virus will affect one host to another. If mode of transmission is direct (like touch) then the virus will spread faster compared to the strain which spread through indirect mode of transmission.

Due to different source, the two strains of the virus can be toxic, non-toxic or less-toxic.

There might be geographical region where one strain finds optimal conditions for transmission and therefore will spread more rapidly in that region compared to the strain which is not viable or less active in those given environmental conditions.

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