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Spectral Genomics, Picoliter, Primagen Holding, Harvard College


Spectral Genomics of Houston, has received US Patent No. 6,808,886, “Methods for array-based comparative binding assays.” The patent covers computer systems, computer program products, and methods for in silico array-based methods for determining the relative amount of biological molecules (e.g., nucleic acid sequences) in two or more samples. The invention also provides novel arrays comprising immobilized calibration molecules (e.g., nucleic acids) for normalizing the results of array-based binding assays (e.g., hybridization reactions).

Picoliter of Mountain View, Calif., has received US Patent No. 6,809,315, “Method and system using acoustic ejection for preparing and analyzing a cellular sample surface.” The patent covers a method and system for acoustically depositing a fluid on a surface of a cell sample. A reservoir containing a fluid is provided, and the cell sample surface is positioned in droplet-receiving relationship to the reservoir. Once the reservoir and the cell sample surface are appropriately positioned, focused acoustic energy is applied to eject a droplet of the fluid from the reservoir. As a result, the droplet is deposited on the sample surface at a designated site. Optionally, the fluid may be an analysis-enhancing fluid that contains a label moiety or a mass-spectrometry matrix material. When an analysis-enhancing fluid is used, the sample is typically subjected to conditions effective to allow the analysis-enhancing fluid to interact with the sample surface so as to render the sample surface suitable for analysis. Then, the sample may be analyzed at the designated site.

Primagen Holding of Amsterdam, The Netherlands, has received US Patent No. 6,808,888, “Universal nucleic acid amplification system for nucleic acids in a sample.” The patent covers methods for amplifying nucleic acid in a sample, which has a set of primers to enable synthesis of at least one nucleic acid strand complementary to at least part of the nucleic acid, wherein the set of primers comprises between 3 and 8 random bases, preferably clustered near the 3’ end of each primer in the set. The methods of the invention are useful, for example, for determining whether samples derived from humans, mammals, poultry, or fish comprise nucleic acids of a pathogen. The methods are further suited for typing the pathogen and typing particular variants of the pathogen. The methods are also suited for the elucidation of the gene expression profile or genetic profile of cells.

Picoliter of Mountain View, Calif., has received US Patent No. 6,808,934, “High-throughput biomolecular crystallization and biomolecular crystal screening.” The patent covers a method for the acoustic ejection of fluid droplets from fluid-containing reservoirs to form arrays suitable for high-throughput combinatorial crystallization experiments. Such arrays may utilize very small fluid volumes, in the order of picoliters. The method is especially suited to preparing combinatorial libraries useful in developing techniques for crystallizing biomacromolecules, such as proteins. The small volumes conserve macromolecules that may be costly and rare, and permit the testing of a large number of experimental crystallization conditions for a given amount of a macromolecule. The time required for the experiments may be very short due to the small volumes. The invention is conducive to forming high-density microarrays of small volume crystallization experiments. Acoustic detection of crystals in situ, and distinction between biomacromolecular and non-biomacromolecular crystals, are also described in the patent.

The President and Fellows of Harvard College of Cambridge, Mass., received US Patent No. 6,809,196, “Molecular recognition at surfaces derivatized with self-assembled monolayers.” The patent covers an article suitable for use as a biosensor that includes a molecule of a formula X-R-Ch adhered to a surface of the article as part of a self-assembled monolayer. X is a functionality that adheres to the surface, R is a spacer moiety, and Ch is a chelating agent. A metal ion can be coordinated by the chelating agent, and a polyamino acid-tagged biological binding partner of a target biological molecule coordinated to the metal ion. A method of the invention involves bringing the article into contact with a medium containing or suspected of containing the target biological molecule and allowing the biological molecule to biologically bind to the binding partner. The article is useful particularly as a surface plasmon resonance chip.

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