It is fitting that the Intellectual Property Owners Education Foundation’s 43rd annual Inventor of the Year Award is breaking new ground in 2016.

Usually an honor bestowed upon one person, this year’s award goes to inventors at four companies who broke major ground with six life-saving cancer drugs in the field of immunotherapy oncology treatment. Ten inventors led these efforts, as well as the various professionals involved in the innovation process—from discovery to implementation and commercialization of these medical treatments. They will be honored at IPOEF’s Foundation Awards Dinner in Washington, D.C, on Dec. 6.

Winners include the inventors of Amgen, Inc.’s IMLYGIC® and BLINCYTO®; Bristol-Myers Squibb Company’s OPDIVO® and YERVOY®; Genentech, Inc., a member of the Roche Group’s TECENTRIQ®; and Merck & Co.’s KEYTRUDA®. About the inventions:

  • Amgen’s IMLYGIC, invented by Robert Coffin and team, is the first and only FDA-approved oncolytic viral therapy designed to replicate in cancer cells leading to oncolysis. In this process, the release of tumor-derived antigens, virally derived GM-CSF and replicated IMLYGIC may promote an antitumor immune response. BLINCYTO, invented by Prof. Dr. Ralf C. Bargou and Dr. Peter Kufer and team, is a prescription medicine used to treat a certain type of acute lymphoblastic leukemia. ALL is a cancer of the blood in which a particular kind of white blood cell is growing out of control. Drs. Coffin, Kufer and Bargou will represent the inventions.
  • Bristol-Myers Squibb’s YERVOY (CTLA-4 immune checkpoint inhibitor) and OPDIVO (PD-1 immune checkpoint inhibitor), invented by Alan Korman, Dr. Mark Selby and team are designed to uniquely harness the body’s own immune system to help restore anti-tumor immune response. By harnessing the body’s own immune system to fight cancer, YERVOY and OPDIVO have become important treatment options across multiple cancers. Drs. Korman and Selby will represent the inventors of these ground-breaking therapies.
  • Genentech’sTECENTRIQ was invented by Yan Wu and team. It is the first and only approved anti-PDL1 cancer immunotherapy for people with locally advanced or metastatic bladder cancer previously treated with platinum-based chemotherapy, and for people with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) previously treated with platinum-based chemotherapy. It is designed to bind with PD-L1, a protein that plays a role in preventing the body’s immune system from fighting cancer. By binding to PD-L1, TECENTRIQ may remove the “stop sign” and activate the immune response. Other inventors on the patent currently at Genentech are Jeanne Cheung, Henry Chiu and Sanjeev Mariathasan. Dr. Wu will represent the inventions.
  • Merck & Co.’s KEYTRUDA, invented by Gregory Carven, Hans van Eenennaam and John Dulos, is a prescription medicine for skin cancer (melanoma). It may be used when melanoma has spread or cannot be removed by surgery. It also is used to treat a kind of lung cancer called non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The three inventors will represent the inventions.

These drugs have received U.S. patents, obtained FDA clearances, and have recently been successfully launched.

“According to the World Health Organization, cancer claimed 8.2 million lives worldwide in 2012,” said IPO Executive Director Mark Lauroesch. “The inventors we have chosen to recognize this year play a key role in the crucial battle to end this disease.”

The Inventor of the Year Award’s purpose is to recognize outstanding recent inventors and to increase public awareness of inventors and how they benefit the global and national economies and quality of life.