A patent covering one of San Diego-based Marshall Edwards Inc.’s lead cancer drug candidates has been issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the company announced April 25.

The patent covers the method of use of ME-143 and follows on the heels of a related patent for ME-344, both used in treating cancer.

“Long-term it gives us confidence going forward from a commercial standpoint,” said Pete De Spain, senior director of investor relations and corporate communications for Marshall Edwards, adding that the patent will help facilitate partnerships. “Any potential partner is going to want to see you have a strong intellectual property position.”

ME-143 is nearing the end of its phase one clinical trial which focused on solid tumors in areas such as ovarian, breast and colorectal cancers. Results of that trial will be presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting in June. De Spain said Marshall Edwards is pursuing all avenues of partnerships and expects those discussions to heat up as the drug candidate enters phase two clinical trials later this year.

The company also announced that it has received notices of allowance from the Japanese patent office for two patents that cover the ME-143 and ME-344 compositions of matter, respectively, and their use in treating cancer.

Marshall Edwards, an oncology company focused on developing novel therapeutics targeting cancer metabolism with a staff of 10 in San Diego, says it owns exclusive worldwide rights to all of its drug candidates. The company’s intellectual property portfolio now includes 15 issued U.S. patents, at least 12 additional U.S. patent applications, and more than 70 issued foreign patents and 50 foreign patent applications.