Discovery of activated protein C leads to lifesaving drug

University of Vermont College of Medicine Professor of Biochemistry George L. Long, Ph.D., received the Inventor of the Year Award, one of the nation's most prestigious awards for breakthrough inventions given by the Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO) at an annual ceremony held June 5 in Washington, D.C.

Long was one of a team of scientists who shared the 29th Annual Inventor of the Year Award for their invention of the lifesaving drug Xigris (drotrecogin alfa (activated)). Developed by Eli Lilly & Company, Xigris was approved in November 2001 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a treatment for adults with life-threatening severe sepsis a blood disease that afflicts about 750,000 Americans each year, 215,000 of whom die as a result. Presenting the award was Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy, who was the recipient of the IPO Legislator of the Year award for his strong support of the intellectual property legislation passed by Congress in recent years.

Long came to the University of Vermont (UVM) in 1986 after working as a Senior Research Scientist at Eli Lilly & Company, where his laboratory work on the gene for human protein C and its role in controlling blood clotting and thrombosis earned him a patent and laid the foundation for Lilly's development of activated protein C through FDA approval.

"It is rewarding to see that work begun in my laboratory over 20 years ago has led to a treatment that is saving lives around the world," said Long. "I'm so honored to receive this award, and hope it will serve as an inspiration to other scientists doing important research in the basic sciences."

At the UVM College of Medicine, Long continues to look at human protein C as a factor in blood clotting and thrombosis. For the past 15 years, he has also done research to determine the molecular nature of mutations in the gene for this protein by looking at DNA from the blood of individuals who have hereditary thrombophilia

Contact: Jennifer Nachbur
University of Vermont

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