With only a single exception, all the patents directed to wild-type telomerase are owned at least in part by Geron Corp. Its dominance came about by “winning the race” to clone human telomerase. The patents discussed above include claims for telomerase protein and fragments, nucleic acids encoding telomerase, expression vectors that encode telomerase, mammalian cells containing a nucleic acid that encodes telomerase, anti-sense oligonucleotides, and promoter sequence of the gene encoding telomerase.
Although only one telomerase sequence was disclosed, Geron’s claims encompass enzymatically active variants and fragments of human telomerase protein and nucleic acid sequences. The range of the variant sequences is determined by hybridization conditions – conditions that are called “stringent”. Such conditions generally result in related sequences that are at least 75% identical. Although by no means certain, a plausible interpretation of these claims is that the variants of the claims are full-length telomerase molecules.
In addition, Geron has protected many related concepts including: cells transfected with and expression telomerase, expression vectors encoding telomerase, anti-sense oligonucleotides, antibodies that specifically bind telomerase, and telomerase promoter sequences.
Outside the United States, Geron has actively pursued protection in at least European countries, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Israel, Japan, Republic of Korea, New Zealand and Singapore. (Geron may have filed in other countries that do not report or reliably report patent application data.) The scope of protection varies among these countries in part due to what is protectable subject matter in each country and also to differences in application of patent laws. In countries where there isn’t any patent protection of telomerase, it is safe for anyone to practice the invention(s) providing that the output isn’t being exported to a country where the invention is protected. Where telomerase has been protected and you want to use one or more of the protected telomerase inventions, we suggest you obtain legal advice directed to your particular circumstance.