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New case studies highlight how innovation fights cancer

11 May 2023 

Cancer case studies keyvisual 
Three new case studies from the EPO highlight the role of patents in growing businesses that are developing technologies to detect, diagnose and treat cancer. According to estimates by the World Health Organization (WHO), cancer is the first or second leading cause of death of under 70-year-olds in over 100 countries and more medical innovation is desperately needed. 

The case studies published today illustrate best practices in IP management and strategy for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), researchers and entrepreneurs to help them make better use of the patent system and other IP rights to facilitate technology commercialisation. The studies, which complement the EPO’s series of innovation case studies, feature spin-outs and start-ups from France, Austria and Ireland that have developed innovative technologies in cancer diagnostics and/or cancer treatment.

The first of these case studies features Damae Medical, a spin out from the French Institut d’Optique Graduate School. Damae has used a patented imaging technology to create a new medical device for the real-time diagnosis of melanoma. Skin cancer is one of the most common cancers globally. Damae’s optical biopsy solution provides an innovative non-invasive way to detect malignant tumours early. A strong IP portfolio consisting of patents, trade marks, know-how and design rights helps the company ensure technological exclusivity and secure a lasting advantage over competitors.

The second case study explains how the collaboration between two professors from Trinity College Dublin and the University College Dublin resulted in a new multi-parameter prognostic test for early-stage breast cancer. This test aids clinicians to confidently determine best treatment options, reducing the need for unnecessary chemotherapy with associated adverse effects for thousands of women diagnosed with breast cancer. OncoMark licensed the patented technology and subsequently developed and validated the test, which led to an acquisition of the company by a large US firm.

The third case study tells the story of how two scientists-turned-entrepreneurs have created a technology platform, S-TIR, for immunology vaccines that enables treatments for allergies and cancer. Based on a strong patent portfolio, they founded OncoQR and several other start-up companies for product development and technology commercialisation. IP was essential for attracting investment and generating licensing revenues early on. This was crucial given the long time-to-market periods that are typical in biotechnology. This case study is also accompanied by a podcast on our channel “Talk Innovation”. Adéla Dvořáková, an IP-expert and co-author of the case study describes the journey from lab to market, which would not have been possible without patent protection.

These case studies are the basis for a new training series “From Lab to Market – Successful Tech Transfer Journeys Driving Innovation Against Cancer”, which is jointly organised by the EPO’s Patent Academy and the European Intellectual Property (IP) Helpdesk. The kick-off event for this series will take place online on 16 May 2023, 14.00-15.30 hrs CEST. It will cover Damae and OncoQR, as well as offering a short introduction to the Unitary Patent system.

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