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PATENT WATCH: Jul 27, 2001


GeneMachines Licenses Microarray Fabrication Technology from Incyte

GeneMachines has licensed from Incyte Genomics two patents that describe the methods basic to microarraying, US Patent Numbers 5,807,522, and 6,110,426, as well as their foreign equivalents.

The patents, which are both entitled “Methods for fabricating microarrays of biological samples,’ cover the pioneering microarray printing technology developed by Pat Brown and Dari Shalon at Stanford University in the mid-1990s. They describe the process of using an automated capillary dispenser, a pinhead, to deposit a specific volume of liquid onto a microarray.

GeneMachines said the patent would enable it to sell its OmniGrid and OmniGrid Accent microarrayers with a “label license’ that would allow users to print microarrays using the methods described in the patent. Existing GeneMachines customers will receive a license to the patents, but this license will not enable them to do anything they have not been doing before.

The reason GeneMachines licensed Incyte’s patents is that it needs these patents to operate in the space, according to a GeneMachines’ spokesperson. “The method for spotting substances onto substrates is a patented technology,’ the spokesperson said.

Given that this method is used by most contact arraying machines, the question arises as to whether Incyte is going to require other microarray instrumentation makers to license this patent.

Incyte declined immediate comment on the matter.

Meanwhile, Incyte was awarded US Patent Number 6,262,247 for nucleic acid molecules differentially expressed when a person is exposed to benzo(a)pyrene, a common form of toxic waste produced by incomplete burning of fuels and other organic substances. The patent, “Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon induced molecules,’ describes the use of these nucleic acids in a microarray to monitor differential expression of these genes in normal and diseased tissues.

The invention also details a pharmaceutical composition that includes the nucleic acid molecules here along with a pharmaceutical carrier, as well as a method of treating or preventing disease associated with this altered gene expression pattern.


Roche Awarded Patent for Electrochemical Detection Molecules

Roche Diagnostics has been awarded US Patent Number 6,262,264 for imidizole-osmium complex conjugates that can be used in microarray electrodes. The patent, “Redox reversible imidazole osmium complex conjugates,’ covers a complex that inhibits the electrochemical function of an antibody when bound to the antibody. This complex can be used to measure the levels of an analyte that binds to a particular antibody on an electrode. When the analyte is present, the analyte competes with the complex to bind to the antibody, leaving more molecules electrochemically active and allowing for more current on the electrode, whereas when no analyte is present, the complex will bind to the antibody and there will be a lower level of electrical activity.


Patents Awarded for Microarray Analysis Programs, Hybridization Chamber, and Protein Chip Technology

Scios of Mountain View, Calif., has been awarded US Patent Number 6,263,287, “Systems for the analysis of gene expression data.’ The patent describes software programs and algorithms for analysis of microarray data, including clustering algorithms, graphic tools, a graphical user interface for viewing and clustering data, and tools to search and sort the data.

Agilent Technologies has been awarded US Patent Number 6,258,593 for a hybridization chamber. The patent, “Apparatus for conducting chemical or biochemical reactions on a solid surface within an enclosed chamber,’ describes an apparatus that can be used to conduct hybridization reactions for DNA, RNA, oligonucleotides, peptides, polypeptides, proteins, and other molecules. The invention also specifies an improved method for mixing the film of solution that goes into the hybridization reaction, and details a kit for executing this hybdridization invention.

Phylos received US Patent Number 6,258,558 for its ProFusion technology used in its protein biochips. The patent, “Selection of proteins Using RNA-Protein fusions,’ covers a method for selecting proteins that mimic antibodies and have a high affinity for certain protein targets, and creating a library of protein-mRNA complexes. The proteins are produced in larger volume through amplification of their corresponding mRNA tag, and are culled out for certain characteristics through control of selection conditions. Phylos has said it uses this method to select out proprietary trinectin proteins, which are a component of human fibronectin and which it uses as binding proteins on a chip.