n-commentPatent Disputes

New Anticoagulant Prompts Bad Blood Between Partners

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Science  29 Mar 1996:
Vol. 271, Issue 5257, pp. 1800-1801
DOI: 10.1126/science.271.5257.1800a


When scientists from Yale University and Corvas International Inc. joined forces in 1993, it seemed like a perfect marriage bound by a strong common interest. The Yale group wanted to develop a vaccine to protect people infected by a bloodsucking parasite, the hookworm; and the company was hoping to isolate a hookworm protein that could compete in the lucrative anticoagulant drug market. The birth announcement this month—a journal report of the amino acid sequences of hookworm anticoagulant proteins—should have been a joyous occasion. It was not. The partners have separated, and the rights to one molecule may become the object of a nasty custody battle. These wrangles seem to be happening more often as academic scientists increasingly work with for-profit corporations, and one observer calls them “special commercialization projects from hell.”