Recently, a new class of antibiotic, teixobactin, was discovered in the soil in a Boston researcher’s backyard via a high throughput in situ screening chip that detected individual bacteria capable of growing in an uncultured state. The resulting isolates were extracted and the extracts screened for antibacterial activity. One peptidyl compound, isolated from a new species of bacterium and named teixobactin (“TX”), was found to kill a wide variety of pathogens without detectable resistance. The Nature pre-print I have ends, “It is likely that additional natural compounds with similarly low susceptibility to resistance are present in nature and are waiting to be discovered.”
“Discovery” seems likely, but a close reading of the examples provided with the December “2014 Interim Guidance on Patent Subject Matter Eligibility” is not encouraging. Practitioners generally hailed the revised Guidance as releasing Examiners to allow claims on nature-based products that were structurally or functionally different from their closest counterparts in nature. However, Example 4, “Purified Proteins” indicates the PTO’s unwillingness to embrace (read “treat as precedent”) cases like Parke-Davis (Adrenaline) and Merck v. Olin-Mathieson (purified vitamin B-12).