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Bruker Biospin, Agilent Technologies, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Applied Biophysics, Vertex Pharmaceuticals

Bruker Biospin has been awarded US Patent 7,402,437, “Method and device for analyzing the intracellular chemical state of living cells by nuclear magnetic resonance.”
The inventors listed on the patent are Benjamin Gonzalez, Martial Piotto, and J. Gaspard Huber.
As described in its abstract, the patent describes a method for analyzing the intracellular chemical state of living cells by nuclear magnetic resonance. The method comprises preparing the cell sample and performing an NMR analysis on the sample.
Both steps are carried out at a very low temperature to freeze the biochemical state of the living cells, in order to obtain specific and accurate reproducible measurements of cellular functioning.
The invention also describes the device coupled to the NMR spectrometer for implementing the analysis.

Agilent Technologies has been awarded US Patent 7,402,279, “Device with integrated microfluidic and electronic components.”
The inventor listed on the patent is Carol Schembri.
The patent describes microfluidic devices and arrays joined to electronics components, according to its abstract. One of the arrays includes a flexible array substrate. The electronics components have circuitry that may, for example, detect reactions or control conditions on the device via a feedback loop. Modular architecture provides for different combinations of microfluidic components, array components, and/or electronics components that can be used to create customized processing and analysis tools.

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center has been awarded US Patent 7,399,633, “Methods for immortalizing cells.”
The inventors listed on the patent are Irwin Bernstein and Barbara Varnum-Finney.
Its abstract states that the patent provides methods for immortalizing precursor cells that are non-terminally differentiated cells, such as stem cells. These methods comprise culturing the precursor cells in the presence of a Notch agonist and one or more growth factors that support the proliferation of the non-terminally differentiated cells. The patent also provides methods to induce the differentiation of immortalized cells, comprising growing the cells in the presence of a Notch agonist and at least one growth factor which supports the differentiation of the cell into a more specialized cell type. The immortalized and/or differentiated cells can be used to repopulate cell populations that have been diminished, for example as the result of an infection or exposure to certain drugs. The patent also provides a cell culture comprising a population of non-terminally differentiated cells immortalized by these methods and kits comprising reagents that promote the immortalization of precursor cells. The invention further provides methods for screening for Notch modulators and for identifying genes involved in processes of cellular differentiation.

Applied Biophysics has been awarded US Patent 7,399,631, “Real-time impedance assay to follow the invasive activities of metastatic cells in culture.”
The inventors listed on the patent are Ivar Giaever and Charles Keese.
The patent provides methods for assessing the metastatic potential of cells by measuring the effect of the cells on the impedance of an electrode, its abstract states. The patent also provides methods for establishing indicators of metastatic potential based on a cell's effect on impedance. Such methods may be used in vitro or in vivo. The electrode can be coated with endothelial or epithelial cells.

Vertex Pharmaceuticals has been awarded US Patent 7,399,599, “Ion channel assay methods.”
The inventors listed on the patent are Michael Maher and Jesus Gonzalez.
The patent describes a method of characterizing the biological activity of a candidate compound, according to its abstract. The method may include exposing cells to the candidate compound, and then exposing the cells to 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 Scan

Mosquitos Genetically Modified to Prevent Malaria Spread

A gene drive approach could be used to render mosquitos unable to spread malaria, researchers report in Science Advances.

Gut Microbiomes Allow Bears to Grow to Similar Sizes Despite Differing Diets

Researchers in Scientific Reports find that the makeup of brown bears' gut microbiomes allows them to reach similar sizes even when feasting on different foods.

Finding Safe Harbor in the Human Genome

In Genome Biology, researchers present a new approach to identify genomic safe harbors where transgenes can be expressed without affecting host cell function.

New Data Point to Nuanced Relationship Between Major Depression, Bipolar Disorder

Lund University researchers in JAMA Psychiatry uncover overlapping genetic liabilities for major depression and bipolar disorder.