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USPTO, OGT, Nanogen, Almac Diagnostics, MGH, SciGene, Baylor

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USPTO Grants Law Firm’s Request to Re-Examine OGT Patents
 
The US Patent and Trade Organization recently granted a request by a law firm to re-examine two Oxford Genome Technology patents.
 
Attorney Martin Fliesler of San Francisco-based law firm Fliesler Meyer informed BioArray News via a letter this week that the USPTO has accepted its request for an ex parte re-examination of US Patent No. 5,700,637, “Apparatus and method for analyzing polynucleotide sequences and method of generating arrays”, and US Patent No. 6,054,270, “Analyzing polynucleotide sequences.”
 
According to USPTO documents, it granted Fliesler Meyer’s request to re-examine it two claims in the ‘270 patent on February 21 and granted its request to reexamine one claim in the ‘637 patent on March 22 because it saw a “substantial new question of patentability” with regards to the claims.
 
OGT now has a two month window from each USPTO order to respond for the purposes of the re-examination, according to the documents. OGT could not be reached for comment.
 
Fliesler wrote last week that because the requests have been granted it believes “that they will result in the narrowing or cancellation of claims in the patents.”
 
“Although still enforceable during and after re-examination, these patents may have their strength significantly diminished after the reexamination process,” he wrote.
 
Fliesler Meyer filed the requests on behalf of an undisclosed party in January (see BAN 2/13/2007). While OGT sells array products for such applications as comparative genomic hybridization and ChIP-on-chip, licensing and protecting its patent estate is a substantial part of its business.
 

 
Nanogen Lands GSA Contract, Opens Way for New Gov't Deals
 
Nanogen can sell its NanoChip 400 microarray and reagents to government departments under a US Government Service Administration contract, the company said last week.
 
Nanogen said the GSA schedule vendor contract will allow it to sell the microarray technology and reagents directly to the National Institutes of Health, Veteran’s Administration hospitals, and military hospitals.
 
According to Nanogen, because government agencies have separate budgets for GSA-approved vendors, its government customers will be able to buy its products more expediently using a wider pool of funds.
 
Nanogen spokesperson Suzanne Clancy told BioArray News in an e-mail that the company this year plans to submit the NC400, along with assays for cystic fibrosis carrier screening and pharmacogenetic tests for drug dosage optimization.
 
Nanogen launched the NC400 in 2005.
 

 
Almac Diagnostics Partners with MGH for Colorectal Study
 
UK-based array firm Almac Diagnostics said last week that it has partnered with Massachusetts General Hospital to screen colorectal polyp tissue samples in an effort to discover a signature that could be used in early-stage diagnosis of colorectal cancer.
 
The firm, which signed an agreement to use Affymetrix’s platform in future diagnostics in 2005, will use its research use only colorectal cancer DSA microarray to screen paraffin-embedded samples over two years.
 
Sridhar Ramaswamy, a principal investigator on the study said that eventually ALmac and MGH “hope to develop a gene expression signature that will inform both surveillance and preventative protocols for colorectal cancer."

Separately, Almac said that it plans to launch a lung cancer DSA research tool in June, and ovarian and prostate cancer DSA will be launched later this year.

 
Almac and MGH did not respond to e-mails seeking further comment.
 

 
SciGene, Baylor Start Microarray Collaboration to Improve BeadChip Processing
 
SciGene this week said it will collaborate with researchers at Baylor University’s Immunology Research Institute to develop “an efficient system” for processing Illumina’s BeadChip microarrays.
 
Specifically, the companies plan to develop “methods and instrumentation” that use SciGene's automation technology.
 
SciGene provides tools designed to reduce errors in microarray data. The Baylor institute is focused on the use of gene-expression microarrays to study genome-wide transcriptional changes in human blood.

The Scan

Dropped Charges

The US Justice Department has dropped visa fraud charges against five Chinese researchers, according to the Wall Street Journal.

More Kids

The Associated Press says Moderna is expanding its SARS-CoV-2 vaccine study to included additional children and may include even younger children.

PNAS Papers on Rat Clues to Human Migration, Thyroid Cancer, PolyG-DS

In PNAS this week: ancient rat genome analysis gives hints to human migrations, WDR77 gene mutations in thyroid cancer, and more.

Purnell Choppin Dies

Purnell Choppin, a virologist who led the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, has died at 91, according to the Washington Post.