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3M Innovative Properties, BioDiscovery, Metrigen

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3M Innovative Properties of St. Paul, Minn., received US Patent No. 6,633,669, “Autogrid analysis.” The patent covers a system for identifying the orientation and positions of the elements of a grid in an image. The elements of the grid need not be parallel to the sides of the image, and the image need not contain all of the elements of the grid. The method can be applied to rectilinear and curved grids. The addresses of identified grid elements can be used to control analytical procedures directed to individual elements.


BioDiscovery of Los Angeles received US Patent No. 6,633,659, “System and method for automatically anal-yzing gene expression spots in a microarray.” The patent covers a digital image processing system and a method for quantitatively assessing nucleic acid species expressed in a microarray. The system includes an instrument that has a digital scanning sensor that scans the microarray and transmits from an output a digital image of the microarray, and a computer that receives the digital image of the microarray from the scanner and then processes the digital image, detecting an expression signal of the nucleic acid species. The system segments the expression signal, calculating a measure of the segmented expression signal, and provides the measure at the output of the computer. Prior to segmenting the expression signal for a nucleic acid species, the expression signal is characterized by a center pixel in the digital image and an approximate radius around the center pixel. The computer segments the expression signal by (a) tentatively classifying pixels within the approximate radius as signal pixels and those outside the approximate radius as background pixels, (b) determining major intensity modes for the signal pixels and for the background pixels, and (c) using the major intensity modes, reclassifying the signal and background pixels depending on each pixel’s intensity relative to the major intensity modes.


Metrigen of Palo Alto, Calif., received US Patent No. 6,632,641, “Method and apparatus for performing large numbers of reactions using array assembly with releasable primers.” The patent covers a system for performing a large number of reactions using an array assembly. In particular, the invention features a method for performing reactions by bringing two arrays into close apposition and allowing reactants on the surfaces of the arrays to contact. The system can perform a large number of polynucleotide amplification reactions using an array assembly. In addition, the invention features a method and apparatus for coupling the amplification of polynucleotides and the detection of sequence variations, expression levels, and functions.

The Scan

Breast Cancer Risk Related to Pathogenic BRCA1 Mutation May Be Modified by Repeats

Several variable number tandem repeats appear to impact breast cancer risk and age at diagnosis in almost 350 individuals carrying a risky Ashkenazi Jewish BRCA1 founder mutation.

Study Explores Animated Digital Message Approach to Communicate Genetic Test Results to Family Members

In the Journal of Genetic Counseling, the approach showed promise in participants presented with a hypothetical scenario related to a familial hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome diagnosis.

Computational Tool Predicts Mammalian Messenger RNA Degradation Rates

A tool called Saluki, trained with mouse and human messenger RNA data, appears to improve mRNA half-life predictions by taking RNA and genetic features into account, a Genome Biology paper reports.

UK Pilot Study Suggests Digital Pathway May Expand BRCA Testing in Breast Cancer

A randomized pilot study in the Journal of Medical Genetics points to similar outcomes for breast cancer patients receiving germline BRCA testing through fully digital or partially digital testing pathways.