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By RICK SMITH, Local Tech Wire editor

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – , a global leader in the study of metabolomics as a means of fighting disease, has secured two more patents.

The venture capital-backed firm, which also won a patent in January, received new intellectual property protection for the use of metabolomics to identify biomarkers linked to depression and schizophrenia.

“Metabolon continues to prosecute and expand its patent portfolio broadly covering the methods of metabolomics technology and methods to discover biomarkers,” Metabolon Chief Executive Officer John Ryals told Local Tech Wire and

“With these two new patents we have expanded our patent methods for biomarker discovery in both schizophrenia and depression, two very important diseases with medical needs for new diagnostics,” he added. “We continue to prosecute this patent estate and expect more patents to issue that will continue to broaden our claims around metabolomics technology.”

Metabolon has developed technology for the biomarkers through profiling of biochemicals such as sugars, nucleotides, fatty acids, amino acids and other small molecules, the company said. The biochemicals are analyzed in patient samples before being compared to other profiles.

The company believes the data can be used for development of diagnostic tests as well as drug development and in monitoring for clinical trials.

Earlier patents deal with biomarkers for other diseases such as cancer, metabolic disorders and neurological problems plus technology for software that analyzes metabolomic data.

In January, Metabolon received a patent covering “methods of discovery, disease treatment and diagnosis” in its specialty- metabolomics. Metabolomics is the study of small molecules, such as glucose and cholesterol , that cellular metabolism produces. The metabolome is the catalog of those molecules in a specific organism.

That patent covers use of metabolomics in drug discovery and development. Earlier coverage applied to disease biomarker discovery and software.

“Our technology and approach is proving to be very powerful in understand metabolism and identifying biomarkers,” Ryals explained in January. “It provides a different and often clearer perspective on a disease mechanism than other technologies. We have the best technology and we have the dominant patent position on the entire field.”

Last fall, Metabolon raised $6 million in venture funding. Since launching in 2000, the company has raised more than $20 million.