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PATENT WATCH: Sep 21, 2001

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Aviva Biosciences of San Diego has received a notice from the US Patent Office that its patent application for its electromagnetic individually addressable arrays has been allowed, the company said.

“This is important for Aviva because the patent is quite broad,” said Xiabo Wang, the company’s senior director for sample preparation. “It covers the device aspect related to the design and basic structure of the individually addressable electromagnetic array.”

These arrays, said Wang, involve multiple probes, each of which generates a magnetic field after the application of an electric current to that area. The magnetic field is then used to facilitate a biological reaction, such as magnetic particle-based DNA hybridization. “You have to use magnetic particles to label the DNA molecules or the biological cells,” he said.

Nanogen also has developed individually addressable arrays. But Wang said Aviva’s array design is different in that it uses electromagnetic elements to generate a magnetic field, while Nanogen’s uses direct DC current to generate an electric field.

Also, while Nanogen has developed its NanoChips for use in diagnostics, Aviva is focusing on applications in detecting “rare event cells,” such as fetal cells present in maternal blood or micrometastatic cancer cells in cancer patients’ blood. The company plans to have a biochip system developed within 18 to 24 months.

Yale University has received US Patent Number 6,287,824, “Molecular cloning using rolling circle amplification.” This patent is the latest in a series of patents that cover this novel amplification technique, invented by Yale professor of pathology Paul Lizardi. The six other patents, assigned to Molecular Staging, also cover methods for isolating and identifying DNA (6,235,502 and 6,150,112), comparison of DNA samples (6,150,112) as well as unimolecular segment amplification and sequencing (6,143,495), and a replication reporter system using rolling circle amplification (6,210,884, 6,183,960, and 5,854,033). The company also received one European patent and two Australian patents for rolling circle amplification.

“Patents provide important protection for our development and marketing partners as we expand the availability of life science research and diagnostic products incorporating rolling circle amplification globally,” said Torben Christensen, CEO of Molecular Staging, in a statement. “The intellectual property estate surrounding our rolling circle amplification technology is firmly established in the United States with six issued patents, and now extends internationally with three issued patents.”

Amersham Pharmacia Biotech, MSI’s partner, is currently marketing this amplification method in two products, the TempliPhi reagent kit and the SniPer SNP analysis system.

Clontech received US Patent Number 6,287,768, “Polymeric arrays and methods for their use in binding assays.” The patent describes arrays of polymers, including nucleic acids and proteins, where the polymer targets are fixed to a solid support, and arranged according to size. These arrays are to be used particularly in gene expression analysis.

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