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Great New Test, or Patent Infringement?


Helicos Biosciences has published a new paper in Genome Research reporting a new single-step capture and sequencing method to detect BRCA1 mutations. To simplify DNA sample preparation and lower the costs of the procedure, the Helicos researchers developed a system "in which any gene can be captured and sequenced directly from human genomic DNA without amplification, using no proteins or enzymes prior to sequencing." Unlike many PCR-based methods that require additional steps to detect mutations, single-molecule sequencing can detect any size insertion or deletion directly, the team adds. This could make genetic tests cheaper and more accessible to a wider range of patients.

At his blog, Cancer and Your Genes, Matt Mealiffe wonders whether such a test would step on some intellectual property toes. "It may be important that their single molecule sequencing method does not involve any DNA amplification," he says, but it's still unclear if such a test would infringe on the BRCA1 and BRCA2 patents held by Myriad Genetics.

The Scan

Panel Recommends Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine for Kids

CNN reports that the US Food and Drug Administration advisory panel has voted in favor of authorizing the Pfizer-BioNTech SARS-CoV-2 vaccine for children between 5 and 11 years old.

Sharing How to Make It

Merck had granted a royalty-free license for its COVID-19 treatment to the Medicines Patent Pool, according to the New York Times.

Bring it Back In

Bloomberg reports that a genetic analysis has tied a cluster of melioidosis cases in the US to a now-recalled aromatherapy spray.

Nucleic Acids Research Papers on SomaMutDB, VThunter, SCovid Databases

In Nucleic Acids Research this week: database of somatic mutations in normal tissue, viral receptor-related expression signatures, and more.