MDI Biological Laboratory scientists Kevin Strange and Voot P. Yin. PHOTO COURTESY OF MDIBL

Bio Lab patent may help healing of hearts

BAR HARBOR — The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office will grant a patent to MDI Biological Laboratory scientists Voot P. Yin and Kevin Strange and their collaborator Michael Zasloff for use of the small molecule MSI-1436 to stimulate the repair and regeneration of heart tissue damaged by injuries such as a heart attack.

The patent award – the first for the MDI Biological Laboratory – represents a major step forward in moving MSI-1436 into clinical studies in humans.

In 2013, Strange and Yin spun off the laboratory’s first for-profit company, Novo Biosciences, with the central goal of developing MSI-1436 into a novel therapeutic for treating heart and skeletal muscle diseases. The lab has granted Novo Biosciences an exclusive license to develop MSI-1436 as a regenerative medicine therapy.

“The importance of this achievement cannot be overstated,” said Strange, president of the MDI Biological Laboratory and co-founder and CEO of Novo Biosciences. “This patent is a critical step forward in our ability to develop new treatments for those who suffer from heart disease, as well as a validation of the effectiveness of MDI Biological Laboratory’s and Novo Biosciences’ approach to drug discovery and development.”

MSI-1436 potentially can be used to stimulate the formation of new heart muscle after an acute heart attack. Because humans have a limited capacity for heart tissue regeneration, damaged heart muscle is normally replaced with a nonfunctional scar. This scar tissue interferes with the function of the heart and can lead to severe disability and ultimately heart failure. Currently, there are no approved treatments to stimulate the regeneration of heart muscle in humans after a heart attack.

The research on MSI-1436 was conducted by Yin, an assistant professor at the MDI Biological Laboratory and co-founder and chief scientific officer of Novo Biosciences. Yin conducted his initial research in zebrafish, which share 70 percent of their genes with humans. Though humans possess the same genes required for the regeneration of heart tissue in zebrafish, human heart tissue does not regenerate after an injury for reasons that aren’t clearly understood.


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