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Autogenomics, Genomics USA, NuGen Technologies, Affymetrix, IBM, Febit

Autogenomics has received US Patent No. 7,354,389, “Microarray detector and methods.” The patent claims a detector for the optical analysis of a biochip. The detector is capable of determining the focal position of analytes on the biochip by using one or more registration markers on the chip, where the analytes and the registration markers are illuminated by different light sources. This configuration will reduce overall focusing time and automate proper positioning of the biochip, while allowing the determination of a focal position without photobleaching or other undesirable effects on optically labile compounds, according to the patent abstract.

Genomics USA of Pearland, Tex., has received US Patent No. 7,354,710, “Methods and devices based upon a novel form of nucleic acid duplex on a surface.” The patent describes a method to fabricate DNA hybridization devices based upon the adsorptive attachment of oligonucleotides to a positively charged surface. The adsorbed oligonucleotide probes form a densely packed monolayer that retains capacity for base-pair specific hybridization with a solution state nucleic acid target strand to form an unwound duplex. The patent also describes methods of nucleic acid duplex detection based upon the interaction of enzymes and dye labels with the structural characteristics of the non-helical duplex described in the patent. The methods can be implemented on microarrays to detect nucleic acid hybridization.

NuGen Technologies of San Carlos, Calif., has received US Patent No. 7,354,717, “Methods and kits for amplification of RNA sequences using composite primers.” The patent claims methods for the isothermal amplification of RNA. The methods are particularly suitable for amplifying a plurality of RNA species in a sample. The methods use a composite primer, a second primer, and strand displacement to generate multiple copies of DNA products comprising sequences complementary to an RNA sequence of interest. In some embodiments, a transcription step is included to generate multiple copies of sense RNA of an RNA sequence of interest. The methods are useful for preparation of nucleic acid libraries and substrates for analysis of gene expression of cells in biological samples. The patent also claims compositions and kits for practicing the amplification methods, as well as methods which use the amplification products.

Affymetrix has received US Patent No. 7,354,720, “Label free analysis of nucleic acids.” The patent claims a method for detecting nucleic acid hybridization without the use of a labeled by: a) providing a fluorescent polymeric matrix having a first fluorescent emission intensity; b) attaching a single stranded DNA or RNA species to the fluorescent matrix to provide a second, greater fluorescent intensity; and c) hybridizing the single-stranded RNA or DNA to a homologous nucleic acid, causing a further increase in fluorescent intensity and allowing the detection of the hybridization of the homologous nucleic acids.

IBM has received US Patent No. 7,354,777, “Discrete nano-textured structures in biomolecular arrays, and method of use.” The patent describes a biomolecular array that includes a substrate, across which is distributed an array of discrete regions of a porous substance formed from a porogen-containing organosilicate material. The porous substance is designed to bind chemical targets useful in biotechnology applications, such as gene expression, protein, antibody, and antigen experiments, the abstract states. The regions on the array are preferably optically isolated from each other and may be shaped to enhance detection of optical radiation emanating from the porous substance, for example, as a result of irradiation of the regions with ultraviolet light. The discrete regions may be configured as microscopic wells within the substrate, or they may reside on top of the substrate in the form of microscopic mesas.

Febit of Heidelberg, Germany, has received US Patent No. 7,355,036, “Two-stage protective groups for the synthesis of biopolymers.” The patent claims a process for the synthesis of a nucleic acid by stepwise assembly of building blocks. The building blocks are used in the synthesis of a nucleic acid, where at least one of the building blocks carries a two-stage protective group containing a photoactivatable group selected from a group consisting of nitroveratryloxycarbonyl, α-methyl-6-nitropiperonyloxycarbonyl, 3,5 -dimethoxybenzoincarbonate, 2-(o-nitrophenyl)propyloxycarbonyl, o-nitrobenzyl, and 2-(o-nitrophenyl) ethyl. The photoactivable group is removed by an illumination step and the remainder of the two-stage protective group is removed by a subsequent acid treatment step, according to the patent abstract.

The Scan

Pig Organ Transplants Considered

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Food and Drug Administration may soon allow clinical trials that involve transplanting pig organs into humans.

'Poo-Bank' Proposal

Harvard Medical School researchers suggest people should bank stool samples when they are young to transplant when they later develop age-related diseases.

Spurred to Develop Again

New Scientist reports that researchers may have uncovered why about 60 percent of in vitro fertilization embryos stop developing.

Science Papers Examine Breast Milk Cell Populations, Cerebral Cortex Cellular Diversity, Micronesia Population History

In Science this week: unique cell populations found within breast milk, 100 transcriptionally distinct cell populations uncovered in the cerebral cortex, and more.