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Going to College, Cigarette Smoking, and… Learning About Patents?

I used to do research, back in the day, looking at specific cigarette smoke constituents and their role in endothelial cell impairment and atherosclerotic plaque formations. I recently came across some old lab notebooks while cleaning the house (yes I kept my lab notebooks) and it got me thinking about those old research days and subsequently about my current job in intellectual property. Back then I didnt know anything about IP, which I now look back upon and question why my advisors didnt make me more aware of it. I wonder how many young scientists really think about IP, or if theyre much more enthralled with the wonders of science and the new tools they have for exploration. Had I been more cognizant of IP, would my research have changed? Would I have steered it in a direction to have maybe been more development-centric? I dont know. What I do know is that if I were doing research now I would definitely keep an eye out for anything that could be patentable.

Anyway, back to cigarette smoke constituents. Since I was thinking about it, I decided to look and see if there were any patents regarding cigarette smoke constituents and either endothelial cells or atherosclerosis. I cant easily think of what would be patentable regarding this, but thats the marvel of intellectual property, oftentimes somebody has thought of something. So, I ran a string, ((cigarette w/2 smoke* w/2 (constituent* or component* or composition*)) or (sodium* w/2 thiocyanate*) or (cadmium* w/2 (sulfate* or sulphate*)) or nicotine*) and (endothel* or atherosclero*)), in a global intellectual property database to satisfy my curiosity. First I ran the string in Title/Abstract/Claims, and there were 0 hits, then I ran it in the Full Patent Specification and there were 31 hits. Upon further review of these 31 hits though, there was only one that was somewhat related; a German patent regarding low pollution tobacco goods, but even that didnt really pertain to the research that I used to conduct.

So then I decided to go a little broader with cigarette* and (endothel* or atherosclero*) and it pulled up 1 reference; another German patent! This patent dealt with treating endothelial dysfunction using a pharmaceutical formulation comprising L-ascorbic acid, or alpha-tocopherol acetate with other pharmaceutical auxiliaries. They cited research that showed that vitamin c prevents cigarette smoke-induced leukocyte aggregation and adhesion to endothelium in vivo. Thats a little more interesting and somewhat related since leukocyte adhesion to endothelial cells is one of the earliest steps in atherosclerotic development.

So, all in all, I was a little surprised to have found so few related patents, but more relieved that in this instance there was no real harm in my youthful naivet.

– A.S.