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Nitric oxide is a critical signaling molecule central in many biological processes. In 1998, Dr. Ferid Murad, a member of Lumen's Scientific Advisory Board, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine for his work on the elucidation of the functional role of nitric oxide.

The original observation of the ability of oligo-arginine to transport drugs and other molecules across cell membranes was made by Dr. Jonathan Rothbard, working at Dr. Garry Fathman's lab at Stanford University. Lumen's founders were interested in the therapeutic properties of oligo-L-arginine. In studies performed collaboratively with members of the Lumen Scientific Advisory Board, they demonstrated that oligo-L-arginine provides the intracellular substrate for iNOS and leads to the production of NO in blood vessels. This technology was shown to prevent stenosis in traumatized vascular implants, therein reducing the invention to practice. Lumen's founders worked with Stanford University's Office of Technology in the preparation of a patent application describing the technology and its utility, and formed Lumen Therapeutics to develop the technology for commercial purposes. Today Lumen holds the exclusive worldwide license to Stanford University's issued patents in this area. Additional patent applications have been filed to cover the range of applications indicated by Lumen's product pipeline.

Lumen is working to harness the power of nitric oxide through the demonstrated ability of oligo-L-arginines to penetrate vascular tissue and to exert significant biological effects through delivery of the nitric oxide precursor L-arginine.

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