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PATENT WATCH: Aug 24, 2001


Quantum Dot of Palo Alto, Calif., has been awarded US Patent Number 6,274,323, “Method of detecting an analyte in a sample using semiconductor nanocrystals as a detectable label.” The patent describes the use of semiconductor nanocrystals as labels for chemical and biochemical assays, including microarray experiments. These labels pose advantages over the fluorescent dyes, in that they can be manufactured to emit different wavelengths of light, meaning that multiple crystals can be added as tags to different samples. These different labels can be simultaneously activated by a single light source. These nanocrystals, according to the patent are also more robust and resistant to photobleaching than fluorescent organic dyes.


CuraGen has been awarded US Patent Number 6,274,320, “Method of sequencing a nucleic acid.” The patent covers a method involving circular nucleic acid molecules that are annealed to anchor primers linked to a solid support, which is made of fiber optic endings or bundles. These complexes are then amplified with a polymerase to generate multiple copies of the anchor primer-circular molecule templates. A sequencing primer is annealed to the circular nucleic acid molecule, along with a predetermined nucleotide triphosphate that identifies that sequence of the target nucleic acid, and the nucleic acid is sequenced through detection of this molecule.


BBI Bioseq of West Bridgewater, Mass., has received US Patent Number 6,274,726, “Pressure-enhanced extraction and purification.” The patent describes a method that uses hyperbaric, hydrostatic pressure to isolate and purify nucleic acids from blood, body fluids, and cultured cell samples. This pressure “alters the partition of biomolecules between absorbed and solvated phases,” the patent states. The invention describes an apparatus for modulating this pressure that includes an array with electrodes and a conduit between them, through which a fluid contacts a phase in a pressure chamber. The phase can contact the sample at an initial pressure, at which it binds to the nucleic acids with greater affinity than other elements of the sample. The electrodes transport the non-nucleic acid components away from the nucleic acids using the electrodes. Then the pressure is changed, disrupting the binding of the nucleic acids to the phase, and the purified nucleic acids are transported away from the phase.

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