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Agilent, Affymetrix, Nanogen, Boston University, Howard University, Duke University, Illumina, CombiMatrix, NIH, Genomics USA, ISB

Agilent Asks Court to Review USPTO Decision over Affymetrix IP Application
Agilent Technologies last month asked a court to review a US Patent and Trademark Office decision that found that an Affymetrix patent application does not interfere with an existing Agilent patent.
Agilent’s request, filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of Northern California Sept. 26 and obtained by BioArray News, alleges that an Affy patent application is identical to a 3-year-old Agilent patent.
Agilent claims that the inventors of Affy’s US Patent Application No. 10/619,224 filed their claims "literally copying" the language of Agilent’s US Patent No. 6, 513, 968.
Agilent’s patent, entitled "Apparatus and method for mixing a film of fluid," was assigned in February 2003.
After Affy filed its application with the USPTO, Agilent contested its claims. But according to a June 28 ruling the USPTO found that Affy's claims are indeed patentable, and proceeded to cancel two of Agilent’s claims from its '968 patent.
In its motion, Agilent has asked the court to reverse the USPTO’s decision that certain claims in Affy's patent application are patentable. Agilent is also seeking "other and further relief as the court sees just and proper.”

Nanogen: Planned Restructuring Won’t Affect Array Business
Nanogen last week said it plans to cuts its US headcount by 15 percent, or around 48 people, by the end of the year in an effort to improve its cash flow and profits. Nanogen currently employs 250 in the US and Canada and 300 worldwide. The cuts will come from R&D, manufacturing, and sales and marketing, Nanogen said.
However, none of the cuts are expected to impact the firm’s array business, according to company spokesperson Kim Richards. Richards told BioArray News last week that the restructuring will have “absolutely no impact on the NC400 product line.”
In a statement, Nanogen President and COO David Ludvigson said the company is taking the steps to consolidate several recent acquisitions, among them Bothell, Washington-based Epoch Biosciences, Toronto-based SynX, and Italy-based Amplimedical.
“The integrations have occurred smoothly with consistent revenue performance,” Ludvigson said. “We are now moving into the second stage of integrating our acquisitions and have identified a number of areas where we can consolidate functions and eliminate redundant activities, which we expect will improve operational performance.”

Affy 500K Arrays Selected for Whole-Genome Scan of African American Cohort
Boston University and Howard University researchers will use Affymetrix arrays to perform the first genome-wide scan of an African-American cohort for genes associated with obesity and other metabolic disorders, Affymetrix said this week.
The researchers will use Affy's GeneChip Human Mapping 500K Array Set to search for genes associated with obesity, hypertension, diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
The collected data will be included within the Affymetrix Control Program, which provides free public access to control cohort data for whole-genome association studies using the GeneChip technology.
The initial phase of the project will take less than a year, Affymetrix said.

Duke to Use Illumina's Infinium HumanHap550 BeadChip in Autism Study
Duke University’s Center for Human Genetics will use Illumina's Infinium HumanHap550 BeadChip in a large autism study, Illumina said last week.
The study will include more than 1,800 individuals and their families.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

CombiMatrix to Receive $2M from US Defense Budget for Bio-Threat Projects
CombiMatrix said this week that the 2007 Defense Appropriations Bill, recently signed into law, includes two new allocations of $1 million each for the company’s development of microarray technologies for the detection of biological threat agents and infectious pathogens.
According to the company, one of the allocations was specifically granted to address concern over the Eurasian Avian Influenza A Virus, also known as H5N1.
“With this additional capital, our goal is to develop an integrated system that can be used in a laboratory as well as military and civilian environments where early detection can reduce the spread of the disease or the impact of a biothreat attack,” David Danley, director of CombiMatrix’s homeland defense unit, said in a statement.

NIH Gives Genomics USA $2.8M to Help Develop HLA Chip
The National Institutes of Health has awarded Genomics USA $2.8 million to help it develop a human leukocyte chip, the Illinois-based company said last week.
The HLA chip is designed to be a low-cost microarray product to analyze the natural genetic variation that modifies vaccination response to biosecurity agents such as anthrax, bird flu, or small pox.
The award, a Homeland Security Small Business Innovation & Research Phase II grant, follows the completion of a $500,000 Phase I grant Genomics USA had received.
Genomics USA will also receive commercial assistance in marketing its chip.

ISB Expands Use of Lumera Technology to Cover Biomarker Detection Technology
Lumera has expanded its agreement with the Institute for Systems Biology to focus on detection methods for a cancer biomarker array, the Bothell, Wash.-based company said last week.
The expanded agreement builds on a February 2005 pact in which ISB agreed to test Lumera's ProteomicProcessor system (see BAN 2/16/2005).

The Scan

Study Reveals New Details About Genetics of Major Cause of Female Infertility

Researchers in Nature Medicine conducted a whole-exome sequencing study of mote than a thousand patients with premature ovarian insufficiency.

Circulating Tumor DNA Shows Potential as Biomarker in Rare Childhood Cancer

A study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology has found that circulating tumor DNA levels in rhabdomyosarcoma may serve as a biomarker for prognosis.

Study Recommends Cancer Screening for Dogs Beginning Age Seven, Depending on Breed

PetDx researchers report in PLOS One that annual cancer screening for dogs should begin by age seven.

White-Tailed Deer Harbor SARS-CoV-2 Variants No Longer Infecting Humans, Study Finds

A new study in PNAS has found that white-tailed deer could act as a reservoir of SARS-CoV-2 variants no longer found among humans.