The Gene Responsible for the COX-2 enzyme, Opening the Door to Anti-inflammatory Medications

Institution:

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

Researchers:

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

Impact:

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.

Timeline:

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.