The gene responsible for the COX-2 enzyme, opening the door to anti-inflammatory medications


School of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Rochester Medical Center


Donald Young, M.D., professor Emeritus, Department of Medicine, and Biochemistry and Biophysics, and other biomedical scientists at UR.


Discovery of the COX-2 enzyme revealed its role in causing inflammation and of possibly suppressing inflammation. It set off a worldwide race among pharmaceutical companies to identify drugs that would inhibit the action of the enzyme.


In 1992 the University of Rochester filed an application to protect Dr. Young’s inventions; in 2000 it was awarded U.S. patents covering those filings. After receiving the patents the UR filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Pfizer, a company that, in the interim, had started making the marketing the COX-2 inhibitor, Celebrex. In 2004 the federal courts declared the UR patents invalid and denied an appeal for a hearing on the matter.