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Agilent Technologies, Stephen Eliot Zweig, Amersham Biosciences, Epoch Biosciences, BioImage


Agilent Technologies of Palo Alto, Calif., has received US Patent No. 6,790,620, “Small volume chambers.” Apparatus and methods are disclosed for forming a reaction chamber having relatively small volumes. An apparatus comprises two elements and a mechanism for introducing a gas to form a movable aerodynamic seal between the elements. One of the elements may have at least a portion of a device for dispensing reagents that are sealed and affixed therein. The other element may be adapted for introduction of a support into the interior of the chamber formed by the top and the bottom element. The apparatus may be used in methods for synthesizing biopolymers on a support.

Stephen Eliot Zweig of Los Gatos, Calif., has received US Patent No. 6,790,632, “Membrane receptor reagent and assay.” The patent covers a membrane receptor reagent and assay in which liposomes are bound to an evanescent wave-emitting surface. Membrane receptors on the liposome’s fluid lipid bilayer membrane are labeled with a fluorescent or luminescent moiety. These membrane receptors are free to diffuse randomly throughout the liposome surface, and thus tend to redistribute according to externally applied forces. The evanescent wave-emitting surface additionally contains reagents that reversibly bind to the membrane receptors, tending to bring them closer to regions of high evanescent wave intensity. Test analytes that disrupt or promote the association between the membrane receptors and the surface reagents act to change the average distance between the membrane receptors and the evanescent wave emitting surface, resulting in a change in the fluorescent or luminescent signal. This reagent and assay system functions with physiologically important membrane receptors such as GPCR receptors, other 7-transmembrane receptors, drug transport proteins, cytochrome P450 membrane proteins and other clinically important membrane components. The reagent and assay methods may be incorporated into microarrays, capillaries, flow cells, and other devices, and used for drug discovery, ADMET, and other biomedically important assays.

Amersham Biosciences of Uppsala, Sweden, has received US Patent No. 6,790,613, “Method of preparing an oligonucleotide array.” This invention relates to the improvement of arrays of porous polymer pads on solid supports used in biological assays. The invention involves freeze drying the porous polymer pads to increase pore size. The increased pore size results in an enhanced ability of the polymer pads to bind specific substances such as DNA, RNA, and polypeptides.

Epoch Biosciences of Bothell, Wash., has received US Patent No. 6,790,945, “Fluorescent quenching detection reagents and methods.” Oligonucleotide probes containing two labels are provided and are useful in hybridization assays. The probes can also contain a minor groove binding group.

BioImage of Soborg, Denmark, has received US Patent No. 6,790,652, “Method and apparatus of high density format screening for active biomolecules.” The patent covers a method and apparatus for screening an array of test compounds for bioactivity by contacting an array of test compounds with a detector layer capable of detecting bioactivity. The detector layer is comprised of physiologically viable cells. The method and apparatus allow a large number of test compounds to be simultaneously assayed in parallel without the need for complex fluidic devices.

The Scan

Shape of Them All

According to BBC News, researchers have developed a protein structure database that includes much of the human proteome.

For Flu and More

The Wall Street Journal reports that several vaccine developers are working on mRNA-based vaccines for influenza.

To Boost Women

China's Ministry of Science and Technology aims to boost the number of female researchers through a new policy, reports the South China Morning Post.

Science Papers Describe Approach to Predict Chemotherapeutic Response, Role of Transcriptional Noise

In Science this week: neural network to predict chemotherapeutic response in cancer patients, and more.