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Seiko Epson, Stanford University, Nisshinbo Industries, Biocept

Seiko Epson has received US Patent No. 7,237,877, “Droplet-discharging device.” The patent describes a small droplet-discharging device that is capable of producing high-density arrays. The droplet-discharging device includes: a) a first substrate made up of a plurality of reservoir chambers for holding a liquid; b) a second substrate containing a plurality of discharge units with supply openings for receiving a supply of a liquid stored in the reservoir chambers; c) pressurizing chambers for applying pressure to the liquid supplied from the supply openings; d) discharge openings for discharging the liquid pressurized in the pressurizing chambers to the outside; and e) a third substrate sandwiched between the first substrate and the second substrate and made up of channels for connecting the plurality of reservoir chambers with the plurality of supply openings. The supply openings provided in the second substrate are arranged so that relative positions on the substrate have a zigzag disposition.

Stanford University has received US Patent No. 7,238,486, “DNA fingerprinting using a branch migration assay.” The patent claims a method of determining the length of a polynucleotide target. According to the patent’s abstract, a target is first hybridized to an array of first probes having different, determined lengths, resulting in the formation of duplexes between the polynucleotide target and the first probes. These duplexes have a single-stranded section of target if the target is longer than the first probe it is in a duplex with. Next, a second probe having a determined length is hybridized to these duplexes. If the length of the target is greater than the length of the first probe it is displaced during this hybridization step by the process of branch migration. In contrast, if the length of the target is less than or equal to the length of the first probe, it is not displaced. Therefore, the length of the polynucleotide target can be determined.

Nisshinbo Industries of Tokyo has received US Patent No. 7,238,518, “Oligonucleotide-immobilized substrate for detecting methylation.” The patent claims a method for detecting the presence or absence of methylation of cytosine in CpG dinucleotides in sample DNA that contains a target sequence including the CpG dinucleotide. According to the patent’s abstract, multiple kinds of capture oligonucleotides are immobilized on a base material and include an oligonucleotide with a nucleotide sequence complimentary to or identical to a nucleotide sequence corresponding to the target sequence in which all cytosine other than the cytosines in the CpG dinucleotide are replaced with thymines. This oligo is then hybridized with sample DNA where non-methylated cytosines have been converted into uracil by de-amination or an amplification product. The presence or absence of methylation is then detected based on the result of the hybridization.

Biocept of San Diego has received US Patent No. 7,238,521, “Microarray hybridization device having bubble-fracturing elements.” The patent claims a hybridization device that improves the efficiency and consistency of microarray hybridization reactions by achieving a greater degree of internal mixing of target solution. The patent describes a gasket-and-cover-type chamber where solution mixing is achieved by the creation of a multitude of microbubbles. One or more of the inner walls that define the chamber contain bubble-rupturing elements that extend into the chamber and terminate in sharp edges. They are typically located on opposite sides of a rectangular chamber and are pointed in a direction opposing bubble movement. Their interference with larger bubbles causes their breakup into microbubbles which travel separate and distinct paths as a result of external agitation and provide improved solution mixing that results in a uniform distribution of target molecules to the probe molecules bound to the substrate.

The Scan

Interfering With Invasive Mussels

The Chicago Tribune reports that researchers are studying whether RNA interference- or CRISPR-based approaches can combat invasive freshwater mussels.

Participation Analysis

A new study finds that women tend to participate less at scientific meetings but that some changes can lead to increased involvement, the Guardian reports.

Right Whales' Decline

A research study plans to use genetic analysis to gain insight into population decline among North American right whales, according to CBC.

Science Papers Tie Rare Mutations to Short Stature, Immunodeficiency; Present Single-Cell Transcriptomics Map

In Science this week: pair of mutations in one gene uncovered in brothers with short stature and immunodeficiency, and more.