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Johns Hopkins University, Agilent Technologies, Bio-Rad Laboratories, Packard Bioscience, NGK Insulators


The Johns Hopkins University received US Patent No. 6,753,147, “Digital amplification.” The patent covers a method for the identification of pre-defined mutations expected to be present in a minor fraction of a cell population. The exponential, analog nature of the polymerase chain reaction is transformed into a linear, digital signal suitable for this purpose. Single molecules can be isolated by dilution and individually amplified; each product is then separately analyzed for the presence of pre-defined mutations. The number of wells that can be analyzed and the intrinsic mutation rate of the polymerase used for amplification define the limit of detection. Commercially available 384-well PCR plates and, in the future, 1536-well plates will be available, theoretically allowing sensitivities for mutation detection at approximately the 0.1 percent level. It is also possible that digital amplification can be performed in microarray format, potentially increasing the sensitivity by another order of magnitude. This sensitivity may ultimately be limited by polymerase errors.

Agilent Technologies received US Patent No. 6,753,145, “Buffer composition and method for hybridization of microarrays on adsorbed polymer siliceous surfaces.” The patent covers a buffer composition, and a method and kit for hybridizing microarrays of nucleic acids bound to an adsorbed polymer surface of a siliceous substrate to provide an envelope of conditions to hybridize nucleic acid targets, while preserving the intactness of the adsorbed polymer surface of the array. The buffer composition comprises a non-chelating buffering agent, a pH within a range of pH 6.4 and 7.5, a monovalent cation, and optionally relatively lower concentrations of a chelating agent and an ionic surfactant. The method comprises incubating the targets with the microarray in the buffer composition at a temperature between about 55 and 70 degrees (C).

Bio-Rad Laboratories received US Patent No. 6,754,414, “Imaging of microarrays using fiber optic exciter.” The patent covers a system for imaging microarrays using a fiber technology for illumination and detection. Emission light from each spot is then collected by a collimating lens and converted to a signal that is compiled by conventional software into an image of the entire microarray.

Packard Bioscience, now PerkinElmer, received US Patent No. 6,754,375, “Method and system for interactively developing at least one grid pattern and computer-readable storage medium having a program for executing the method.” The patent covers a method and system for interactively developing at least one grid pattern, as well as an array of such patterns, and a computer-readable storage medium driven by a mouse or trackball on a personal computer or workstation.

NGK Insulators of Nagoya, Japan, received US Patent No. 6,753,144 , “Biochip.” The patent covers a method and technology for more accurate DNA microarrays. The method involves substantially circular spots containing capture solutions arranged on a base plate. The solutions are adapted to specifically react with a specimen and provide information about a structure within the specimen.


The Scan

Guidelines for Ancient DNA Work

More than two dozen researchers have developed new ethical guidelines for conducting ancient DNA research, which they present in Nature.

And Cleared

A UK regulator has cleared former UK Prime Minister David Cameron in concerns he should have registered as a consultant-lobbyist for his work with Illumina, according to the Financial Times.

Suit Over Allegations

The Boston Globe reports that David Sabatini, who was placed on leave from MIT after allegations of sexual harassment, is suing his accuser, the Whitehead Institute, and the institute's director.

Nature Papers on Esophageal Cancer, Origin of Modern Horses, Exome Sequencing of UK Biobank Participants

In Nature this week: genetic and environmental influences of esophageal cancer, domestic horse origin traced to Western Eurasian steppes, and more.