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Biocept, UCSD, Invitrogen, Edgelight Biosciences, Vertex Pharma Among Recent Patent Recipients

Biocept, of Carlsbad, Calif., has been awarded US Patent No. 7,172,866, “Methods and gel compositions for encapsulating living cells and organic molecules.”
Inventors listed on the patent are Soonkap Hahn, Roberto Fagnani, Xiaofan Dong, Carl Edman, and Pavel Tsinberg.
According to its abstract, the patent protects a method for encapsulating biologics within a hydrogel. The method comprises using an aqueous solution of an isocyanate-functional hydrogel prepolymer mixed with an amount of biologics and an aqueous solution containing a dithiol crosslinking agent under physiological pH conditions. The product of such method may be a bioreactor or an assay device having a plurality or different biologics encapsulated at predetermined locations in a substrate, the abstract states.

The University of California, San Diego, has been awarded US Patent No. 7,173,130, “Detection of transmembrane potentials by optical methods.”
Inventors listed on the patent are Roger Tsien and Jesus Gonzalez.
According to its abstract, the patent protects methods and compositions for detecting changes in membrane potential in the membranes of biological systems. In one aspect, the method comprises: (a) providing a living cell with a first reagent comprising a charged hydrophobic molecule, typically a fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) acceptor, donor, or quencher that is capable of redistributing within the biological membrane in response to changes in the potential across the membrane; (b) providing the cell with a second reagent that can label the first face or the second face of a biological membrane within the cell; and (c) detecting light emission from the first reagent or the second reagent. One aspect of this method involves monitoring membrane potential changes in subcellular organelle membranes in living cells, while another aspect is the use of certain embodiments of the method to screen test chemicals for activity to modulate the activity of a target ion channel. Another aspect of the invention is a transgenic organism comprising a first reagent, such as a charged hydrophobic fluorescent molecule, and a second reagent, such as a bioluminescent or naturally fluorescent protein, the abstract states.

Invitrogen of Carlsbad, Calif., has been awarded US Patent No. 7,173,154, “Transfection reagents.”
Inventors listed on the patent are Yongliang Chu, Malek Masoud, and Guililat Gebeyehu.
According to its abstract, the patent protects compounds capable of facilitating transport of biologically active agents or substances into cells, having a general structure that is described in detail in the patent. In summary, the invention relates to cationic lipids and compositions of cationic lipids having utility in lipid aggregates for delivery of macromolecules and other compounds into cells, the patent states.

Edgelight Biosciences, of Sudbury, Mass., has been awarded US Patent No. 7,175,811, “Microarray evanescent wave fluorescence detection device.”
Inventors listed on the patent are David Bach, Bruce Booth, and James Richards.
According to its abstract, the patent protects nanowell microarrays in optical contact with polymer waveguides wherein an evanescent field associated with lightwaves propagated in the waveguide excite target substances in the nanowells either by a common waveguide or by individual waveguides. Fluid samples are conveyed to the nanowells by means of microfluidics. The presence of the target substances in fluid samples is detected by sensing fluorescent radiation generated by a fluorescent tag bound to the target substances. The fluorescent tags generate fluorescent radiation as a result of their excitation by the evanescent field. One or more PMT detectors or a CCD detector are located at the side of the waveguide opposite the nanowells. Fluorescent radiation is detected due to its coupling with the waveguide or its emission through the waveguide, the abstract states.

Vertex Pharmaceuticals of San Diego has been awarded US Patent No. 7,176,016, “High-throughput method and system for screening candidate compounds for activity against target ion channels.”
Inventors listed on the patent are Michael Maher and Jesus Gonzalez.
According to its abstract, the patent protects drug candidate screening methods to discover compounds with activity against ion channel targets. The method may include modulating the transmembrane potential of host cells in a plurality of sample wells with a repetitive application of electric fields so as to set the transmembrane potential to a level corresponding to a pre-selected voltage dependent state of a target ion channel, the abstract states.

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