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Agilent Technologies, Advanced Gene Technology, Exonhit Therapeutics, Affymetrix

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Agilent Technologies of Palo Alto, Calif., has received US Patent No. 6,884,580, "Fabricating biopolymer arrays." The patent covers a method and apparatus for fabricating an array of biopolymers on a substrate using a biopolymer or biomonomer fluid, and using a dispensing head. The head of the apparatus has a reservoir chamber and at least one jet which can dispense droplets onto a substrate. The jet includes a capillary delivery chamber with an orifice that is attached to the reservoir chamber. The jet further includes an ejector which, when activated, causes a droplet to be ejected from the orifice. The method includes loading the head by positioning the head with the orifice adjacent and facing a biomonomer or biopolymer fluid, and providing a load pressure to the reservoir chamber. The load pressure is sufficiently negative such that the fluid is drawn into the reservoir chamber through the orifice and delivery chamber, while simultaneously being insufficient to result in ambient atmosphere entering the delivery chamber through the orifice once the head has been loaded and no further fluid is near the orifice. The head is positioned with the orifice facing the substrate and multiple droplets are dispensed from the head orifice so as to form an array of droplets on the substrate.


Advanced Gene Technology of Taichung, Taiwan, has received US Patent No. 6,884,627, "Method for ascertaining the quality of herbs." The patent covers a method for ascertaining the quality of herbs by applying the techniques of biochip for detecting the presence of biologically active, desired ingredients in the herbs. The patent describes a method of reproducibly extracting a pharmacologically active mixture of chemical components from a plant source, where there was an improved quality control of the mixtures of pharmacologically active components. The steps of the patented method include fractionating herb extracts with HPLC to obtain fraction samples of the herb extract, loading a pretreated, coated plastic slide with the fraction samples of the herb extracts in microarray format, hybridizing the samples with a labeled-probe(s) specific for a biologically active, desired ingredient(s) in the herbs, and detecting a labeled-probe signal for determining the presence of the biologically active, desired ingredient(s) in the herbs.


ExonHit Therapeutics of Paris, France, has received US Patent No. 6,881,571, "Qualitative differential screening." The patent covers microarray products and the specific detection of mRNAs produced by alternative splicing, covering microarrays optimized for the discovery of alternative RNA splicing events. The patent protects the probe configuration of a unique set of five oligonucleotides for the detection of each splice variant. Applications for the patent include drug discovery, diagnostics, and compound screenings for efficacy or toxicity as well as screening patients for potential efficacy of therapeutics. The genome-wide probe configuration described in the patent is the basis for the microarrays in ExonHit's SpliceArray product line launched earlier this year.


Affymetrix of Santa Clara, Calif., has received US Patent No. 6,884,578, "Genes differentially expressed in secretory versus proliferative endometrium." The patented invention compares expression profiles from matched samples to identify differential gene expression. Samples are matched according to physiological, pharmacological and/or disease state. Comparison of matched samples eliminates gene-expression differences that are the result of changes in variables that are not of interest. The gene-expression differences that remain can be attributed with a high degree of confidence to the unmatched variation. The gene-expression differences that are identified can be used, for example, to diagnose disease, identify physiological state, design drugs, and monitor therapies.

The Scan

Review of Approval Process

Stat News reports the Department for Health and Human Services' Office of the Inspector General is to investigate FDA's approval of Biogen's Alzheimer's disease drug.

Not Quite Right

A new analysis has found hundreds of studies with incorrect nucleotide sequences reported in their methods, according to Nature News.

CRISPR and mRNA Together

Time magazine reports on the use of mRNA to deliver CRISPR machinery.

Nature Papers Present Smartphone Platform for DNA Diagnosis of Malaria, Mouse Lines for Epigenomic Editing

In Nature this week: a low-cost tool to detect infectious diseases like malaria, and more.