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IP Update: Recent Patents Awarded to the University of North Carolina; the California Institute of Technology; Illumina; and More

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The University of North Carolina at Greensboro has received US Patent No. 8,048,623, "Compositions, products, methods and systems to monitor water and other ecosystems." The described device may include oligonucleotides immobilized at known locations on a substrate as an array, so that each location on the array is an oligonucleotide having a sequence derived from a single, predetermined operational taxonomic unit, and where at least one sequence on the array is associated with the presence or absence of mercury. The sequences immobilized on the array may be from both known and unknown organisms. Methods for the monitoring of ecosystems for parameters of interest, such as the presence or absence of mercury, are also claimed in the patent.


The California Institute of Technology of Pasadena has received US Patent No. 8,048,626, "Multiplex qPCR arrays." Methods for measuring the concentration of multiple nucleic acid sequences in a sample are claimed. The nucleic acid sequences in the sample are simultaneously amplified, for example, by PCR, in the presence of an array of nucleic acid probes. The amount of amplicon corresponding to the multiple nucleic acid sequences can be measured in real time during or after each cycle using a real-time microarray. The measured amount of amplicon produced can then be used to determine the original amount of the nucleic acid sequences in the sample.


Michael Strathmann of Seattle has received US Patent No. 8,048,826, "Methods for combinatorial synthesis on arrays." Polymers are synthesized from monomers through a series of synthesis steps at chemically modified electrodes by the action of an electrochemically generated reagent, or EGR, at subsets of the electrodes. These subsets of electrodes vary with each step. Crosstalk of the EGR between electrodes is prevented by the production of a scavenging agent, which neutralizes the EGR, at those electrodes where the EGR is not produced. The scavenging agent acts as a virtual cap to prevent mis-incorporation of monomers and other anomalies in the polymers.


Illumina of San Diego has received US Patent No. 8,049,893, "Methods of identifying analytes and using encoded particles." The method includes providing a support substrate with randomly distributed particles, where the particles have elongated bodies with codes that extend along the corresponding bodies. The codes identify probes that are attached to the corresponding bodies, where at least some of the probes include fluorescent labels from reactions with the analytes. The method also includes detecting fluorescent signals that are emitted from the fluorescent labels. The fluorescent signals emit from random spatial locations along the support substrate. The method also includes detecting the codes of the particles at the random spatial locations along the support substrate and analyzing the codes and the fluorescent signals to identify the analytes that react with the probes on the particles.

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.