Can drugs developed to treat Alzheimer's disease in humans be useful to improve animals' ability to learn?

By Elaine M. Ramesh In , Posted 

             On January 14, 2016, an interesting U.S. patent application publication describing cognitive disorder treatments came out.  Assignee Dart NeuroScience, a San Diego, California based company is developing treatments for memory disorders by focusing on the development of innovative drugs with new mechanisms of action.   They do so by exploring the genes involved in mammalian memory formation.  US 2016/0009691 discloses certain substituted pyridine and pyrazine compounds which inhibit PDE4, and have potential application to treat neurological or CNS disorders such as Alzheimer's disease.  The majority of the application is devoted to describing the chemistry of the novel compounds and the relevant biochemistry and analogous uses in human medical neurological disorders.

          For those looking out to the horizon for new developments in veterinary medicine, some ancillary methods disclosed in the '691 publication will be of interest.   Specifically, claim 75 recites a method of administering a CREB (cAMP response element binding protein) augmenting agent to an animal undergoing a training protocol to reduce the number of training sessions in that protocol  necessary to teach the animal a certain task.    Dependent claims further describe the method by specifying that the animal could be a horse or a dog and that the task could be related to a skill needed for animals used in law enforcement including public order maintenance, search and rescue or contraband detection.    Contextual conditioning and novel object recognition experiments on rats and mice are detailed in the specification and support the animal training method claims, but no tests were run with large animals.    Efficacy for dogs or horses is putative, and questions of enablement might arise if the animal training method claims were being examined.

              Perhaps unsurprisingly then, a Preliminary Amendment was filed by the Applicants on December 7, which cancelled the method of animal training-related claims in the pending application.   The changes made by Preliminary Amendment are not found in the publication, as the amendment was not filed more than 4 months prior to the projected publication date in accordance with MPEP 1121.   The reasoning given for cancellation of the method of animal training claims was that cancellation of claims was to reduce official filing fees.  However, it is possible that patent protection could be pursued for these method claims in a future continuing application.    The notion of having a pharmaceutical solution to ease or speed up an animal's process of learning new tasks is intriguing, so it should be of interest whether or not this facet of PDE4 inhibitor activity is pursued in the future.    

              Flener IP Law is a full service intellectual property law firm, and the patent attorneys can provide beneficial monitoring services for, and analysis of, published pending U.S. applications.    Contact us for further information and value-oriented pricing.