GMRI files a patent relating to vascular birthmarks

venous malformation

A six-year old girl with venous malformation affecting the face

The Gillies McIndoe Research Institute (GMRI) is planting its “stake in the ground” in relation to its work on vascular birthmarks.

The GMRI has filed a patent to protect the intellectual property arising from its discoveries concerning diseased stem cells and their regulatory pathway in vascular birthmarks. The findings pave the way for the development of novel and effective therapy for vascular birthmarks, for which current treatment is unsatisfactory.

Patenting research discoveries isn’t new territory for the GMRI. If the latest application is successful it will be the GMRI’s third registered patent since its new premises were officially opened in December 2013 – the first relating to its cancer studies and the second focussed on fibrotic conditions.

Dr Tinte Itinteang, the GMRI’s Chief Scientific Officer, said he expected the research discoveries covered by the patent will allow the GMRI to demonstrate the efficacy of certain medications that control vascular birthmarks such as venous malformation, and pyogenic granuloma – a vascular tumour characterised by over-granulated tissue.

The research began as an initial voyage of discovery by GMRI summer research students Sam Siljee and Emily Keane (see story GMRI student research ‘far-reaching’) and Max Blackwell (see story Summer student on the home stretch to being published). As University of Otago medical students they explored the topics over their 12-week summer studentship at the GMRI, and their work culminated in publishing the novel findings in international journals, Dr Itinteang said.

“A lot of time and manpower went into the research. Although we are a small team we hope that, in time, these discoveries will lead to positive patient outcomes.”

One example of a positive outcome achieved by the GMRI team relates to the way that the discoveries underscore the new and effective treatment of strawberry birthmarks, doing away with surgery and unpleasant forms of treatment.

“It is all down to the inquisitive minds of the summer students, and to what we seek to do at the GMRI – investigate medical enigmas which plague medicine at the moment.

“We are excited about our work on different types of vascular birthmarks and believe that further important discoveries will be made.”

pyogenic granuloma

A pyogenic granuloma affecting the upper lip of a patient