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PATENT WATCH: Aug 17, 2001

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Alpha Innotech, of San Leandro, Calif., has received US Patent Number 6,271,042 for a light-based biochip detection system. The patent, "Biochip detection system," describes a charged coupled device (CCD) sensor that simultaneously detects light waves from different portions of the biochip. This CCD sensor is coupled with a filter, a broad spectrum light source, and a filter for the light source. The system is designed to be used to detect different fluorescent tags that have differing wavelengths of excitation.

Rosetta Inpharmatics of Kirkland, Wash., has received US Patent Number 6,271,002, "RNA amplification method," for a PCR-based kit that involves an RNA polymerase promoter and is designed to allow the generation of a large amount of RNA from a small number of starting cells. The method described in the patent involves amplifying and detecting RNA derived from a cell population, preferably a mammalian population, while preserving the fidelity of sequence. In the invention, cDNA being amplified using PCR can be primed with an RNA polymerase promoter, in order to incorporate the RNA polymerase promoter into the cDNA.

Genetic Microsystems, of Woburn, Mass., (now a subsidiary of Affymetrix), has been awarded US Patent Number 6,269,846 for a method of depositing miniscule volumes of fluid onto arrays. The patent, "Depositing fluid specimens on substrates, resulting ordered arrays, techniques for deposition of arrays," covers a deposition device with a printing tip of less than 0.3 mm in diameter designed to transport and deposit drops of fluid onto specific locations on the array or similar substrate. The surfaces upon which the fluid is deposited are arranged to prevent the spot from being displaced in the X or Y directions. The device described in the patent also includes a mobile multi-well plate that moves along with the print tip, under the direction of a computer. This mobile plate is intended to minimize evaporation of sample and maximize the consistency of dots.

The Scan

Pig Organ Transplants Considered

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Food and Drug Administration may soon allow clinical trials that involve transplanting pig organs into humans.

'Poo-Bank' Proposal

Harvard Medical School researchers suggest people should bank stool samples when they are young to transplant when they later develop age-related diseases.

Spurred to Develop Again

New Scientist reports that researchers may have uncovered why about 60 percent of in vitro fertilization embryos stop developing.

Science Papers Examine Breast Milk Cell Populations, Cerebral Cortex Cellular Diversity, Micronesia Population History

In Science this week: unique cell populations found within breast milk, 100 transcriptionally distinct cell populations uncovered in the cerebral cortex, and more.