5. June 2023

The team of Associate Professor Marek Mraz from Masaryk University and the University Hospital Brno has been granted a US patent for the use of GAB1 inhibitors in the treatment of hematological malignancies. This achievement is based on more than a decade of studying the GAB1 protein and its role in the biology of B cell malignancies.

A major milestone in chronic lymphocytic leukaemia research has been achieved by Marek Mraz, a scientist at CEITEC, Masaryk University. His team has received the first patent in the US for the possible use of GAB1 inhibitors as a treatment for haematological malignancies (leukaemia and lymphomas). In 2018, Mráz and his team were awarded the ERC Starting Grant, highly regarded in the scientific community, and this grant also allowed them to focus on intensive research into the development and treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukaemia, the most common type of leukaemia in adults (this is a tumour arising from B-lymphocytes, the cells of the immune system that otherwise defend the body against pathogens by producing antibodies).

The US patent application was filed in 2020, and the MU Technology Transfer Office team has been working on the patent since then. "This patent is a monopoly in the USA on the use of GAB 1 inhibitors as a treatment for haematological malignancies (leukaemia) and Masaryk University and the University Hospital Brno are the owners of these rights, which is a necessary condition for the development of new drugs and for potential collaboration with pharmaceutical companies," says Marketa Vlasakova, intellectual property manager at TTO MU, who guided Associate Professor Mraz's team through the entire patent process.

The development of new drugs is a multidisciplinary long run and Associate Professor Mraz's team has a certain advantage over other research groups that are also trying to win against leukaemia. "The key is being able to draw on the expertise of Associate Professor Kamil Paruch (MU), who is a very experienced medicinal chemist and with whom we plan to further develop GAB1 inhibitors together. The close cooperation with clinicians at the Internal Hematology and Oncology Clinic of the University Hospital Brno, which allows us to study the biology of GAB1 in the context of primary samples of patients with CLL, lymphomas or acute myeloid leukaemia, is also a huge asset," adds Mraz.

The granting of the US patent is a significant milestone, but it is by no means the final stage. "Therapeutic strategies in oncology have evolved significantly over the past decade. Therefore, over time, we would like to have a new inhibitor that is specific to the target GAB1 molecule, has a favorable pharmacokinetic profile, is patent-protected and has the potential to be used in patients with one of the blood cancers under study," adds Mraz.