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PATENT WATCH: Aug 3, 2001


David Walt, a professor of chemistry at Tufts University and an inventor of Illumina’s core bead array technology, has received US Patent Number 6,266,459, "Fiber optic sensor with encoded microspheres." The patent, which Walt assigned to the Trustees of Tufts College, covers a microsphere-based array system, in which microspheres or particles with bioactive agents are randomly or specifically distributed on a substrate. An optical signature-encoding scheme allows the user of the array to be able to identify the location of specific agents within the array. The preferred version of this invention — that one currently used in Illumina’s arrays — is one in which a fiber-optic bundle is the substrate for the microspheres, in order to form a high-density array. The method involves detecting a change in the microsphere’s optical properties, such as a change in the light emitted from a fluorescent dye tag.


Genset, of Paris, has been awarded US Patent Number 6,265,546, "Prostate Cancer Gene." This patent covers the PG1 gene, which is associated with prostate cancer, and provides polynucleotides and biomarkers derived from the gene and nearby regions, as well as primers that hybridize to these regions. The invention also specifies methods for genotyping a sample using the invention, as well as methods to detect a statistical correlation between this marker and prostate cancer, as well as between a particular haplotype and prostate cancer, and for diagnostic methods of determining whether a mutation in the PG1 gene indicates that a person is suffering from prostate cancer. In describing the diagnostic methods, the patent details the use of a microarray containing polynucleotides and biallelic markers to which a sample could be hybridized in order to determine whether a specific mutation is present.


Ingeneus has received US Patent Number 6,265, 170, which covers methods for hybridization, detection, and evaluation of nucleic acids. The patent, "Homogenous assay of duplex or triplex hybridization by means of multiple measurements under varied conditions," refers to a technique in which signals are obtained from a test sample before and during the application of voltage to the sample. These signals, which indicate the binding affinity of probe and target, are correlated. The invention allows the voltage to be calibrated so it disturbs hybridization that is not perfectly complementary. In this way, hybridization of sample to probe is detected with precision and accuracy. The hybridizations in this invention include both duplexes formed by complementary single stranded nucleic acid probes and triplexes formed by a double-stranded sample and a single-stranded probe.


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