A mouse engineered by Ohio University researchers to carry a human gene that protects it from viral infection has become the second laboratory animal to bear a U.S. patent.

Ohio University officials said Wednesday that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has notified the school that a patent would be issued next week for the virus-resistant mouse.Dr. Thomas Wagner, co-developer of the new mouse strain, said the patented animal was genetically altered so that it continuously produces a low level of interferon, a protein that the body uses to attack invading viruses.

The patent office issued the first mouse patent to Harvard University in 1988 for a laboratory mouse strain engineered to grow malignant tumors. That animal, the so-called Harvard Mouse, is used for cancer studies.