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Northwestern University, Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, University of Chicago

Northwestern University of Evanston, Ill., has received US Patent No. 7,303,869, “Solid-phase reactions.” The patent claims systems, compositions, and methods for the detection and characterization of nucleic acid sequences and variations in nucleic acid sequences. Methods are specifically described for attaching nucleic acids to solid supports and modifying nucleic acids. For example, the 5' nuclease activity of an agent can be used to cleave a structure formed on the solid support. The occurrence of a cleavage event indicates the presence of specific nucleic acid sequences, according to the patent abstract.

The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation has received US Patent No. 7,303,872, “Method of error reduction in nucleic acid populations.” The patent claims a method for the direct synthesis of double-stranded DNA molecules of a variety of sizes and with any desired sequence. First, a maskless microarray synthesizer is used to make a DNA microarray on a substrate in which each element or feature of the array is populated by DNA of one of the overlapping DNA segments. The complement of each segment is also made in the microarray. The DNA segments are released from the substrate and held under conditions favoring hybridization of DNA, under which the segments will hybridize to form duplexes. The duplexes are then separated using a DNA-binding agent that binds to improperly formed DNA helixes to remove errors from the set of DNA molecules. The segments can then be hybridized to each other to assemble the larger target DNA sequence.

The University of Chicago has received US Patent No. 7,303,874, “Discrimination of Bacillus anthracis from closely related microorganisms by analysis of 16S and 23S rRNA with oligonucleotide microchips.” The patent describes methods and compositions for using nucleotide sequence variations of 16S and 23S rRNA within the B. cereus group to discriminate a highly infectious bacterium B. anthracis from closely related microorganisms. Sequence variations in the 16S and 23S rRNA of the B. cereus subgroup including B. anthracis are used to construct an array that can detect these sequence variations through selective hybridizations and discriminate B. cereus group that includes B. anthracis. Discrimination of single-base differences in rRNA may be achieved with a microchip during analysis of B. cereus group isolates from both single and in mixed samples, as well as identification of polymorphic sites, according to the patent abstract. Successful use of a microchip to determine the appropriate subgroup classification using eight reference microorganisms from the B. cereus group as a study set is demonstrated in the patent.

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