June 24, 2008 02:30 ET

DIREVO Receives Broad European Patent Protection for its Protease Optimization Platform

COLOGNE, GERMANY--(Marketwire - June 24, 2008) - DIREVO Biotech AG, a world-wide leader in high throughput protein and strain engineering, announced today receipt of notice from the European Patent Office that the post-granting opposition period had ended without a filed opposition against Patent Grant No. EP 150411. This patent, entitled, "Process for Generating Sequence-Specific Proteases by Directed Evolution", broadly claims methods for the generation of proteases with novel, altered, or customized specificity. This further strengthens DIREVO's protease optimization platform, currently applied in two research and license agreements with Pfizer and AstraZeneca/MedImmune for the development of novel, specific proteases against multiple targets.

Dr. Thomas von Rüden, DIREVO's CEO, commented "The unopposed granting of this European patent underlines DIREVO's leadership in the field of protease optimization for biopharmaceutical and industrial applications. We are looking forward to the granting of our US application and other applications in the same patent family."

Proteases are enzymes that cleave and thus activate or inactivate proteins or peptides. As therapeutics, human proteases can be engineered to selectively inactivate agents of disease such as proteins known to contribute to inflammatory disorders, cancer or bacterial pathogenesis. In industrial biotechnology, proteases are used in applications from food processing to laundry detergents. However, for many potential applications, existing proteases do not have the required level of specificity. The ability to generate proteases with novel or increased specificity thus has the potential to enable a wide array of product applications.

To train protease specificity, protease variants are screened using the targeted protein or peptide as "substrates". Included in the patent's claims are methods for the selection of highly specific, highly active proteases, including use of a broad class of screening substrates as well as "competitor" and "reference" substrates. The claims further include the progressive re-training of protease specificity by the use of one or more intermediate substrates, each of which resembles the final desired cleavage substrate more than its predecessor. Finally, claims of the patent include the application of such methods to all major protease classes and in combination with any method of combinatorial DNA library generation. By combining these protease engineering approaches with its unique high throughput screening capabilities, DIREVO has successfully and simultaneously engineered the main parameters of interest in protease optimization, including specificity, activity and resistance to inhibitors, in some cases resulting in over one thousand-fold improvement.


About DIREVO Biotech AG

DIREVO Biotech AG generates superior bioengineered products and processes for industrial and pharmaceutical markets by enhancing nature's potential. The Company's portfolio includes optimized proteins, optimized bioprocesses and other bio-molecules, in research, in commercial development and on the market. DIREVO develops products both independently and with global leaders such as Danisco/Genencor, Nestlé, AstraZeneca/MedImmune and Pfizer. DIREVO Biotech is committed to a tailored approach to addressing customer needs and market opportunities.

DIREVO's biopharmaceutical business focuses on therapeutic antibodies and proteases. Applying its powerful and proven protein engineering capabilities, DIREVO generates improved second generation therapeutics and discovers and optimizes novel first-generation therapeutics. DIREVO offers early stage partnering from internal discovery programs as well as collaborations on the optimization of a wide range of therapeutic proteins.

DIREVO's industrial biotechnology business focuses on food & feed, and biorefinery markets. The Company provides solutions through discovery, development and scale up of enzymes, other molecules and strains. Industrial biotechnology at DIREVO emphasizes environmental sustainability and the use of renewable resources. For example, collaboration with Danisco A/S yielded a significantly improved phytase enzyme that has reached the market as part of a Danisco/Genencor product.

DIREVO Biotech AG is privately held and located in Cologne, Germany. Additional information is available at:

Contact Information

  • Contact:
    DIREVO Biotech AG
    Dr. Thomas von Rüden
    Telephone: + 49 221 8887-121