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Columbia, SUNY, Stratagene, Merrimack Pharma, Signature Biosciences, and Amgen Win US Patents

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Columbia University has been awarded US Patent No. 7,083,918, “Bacterial small-molecule three-hybrid system.”
 
Inventors listed on the patent are Eric Althoff and Virginia Cornish.
 
According to its abstract, the patent protects a transgenic bacterial cell comprising: (a) a dimeric small molecule which comprises a first moiety known to bind a first receptor domain covalently linked to a second moiety known to bind a second receptor domain; (b) nucleotide sequences which upon transcription encode a first fusion protein comprising the first receptor domain and a second fusion protein comprising the second receptor domain; and (c) a reporter gene whose expression is conditioned on the proximity of the first fusion protein to the second fusion protein. The cell is also adapted for use in a method for identifying a molecule that binds to a known target in a bacterial cell from a pool of candidate molecules, and a method for identifying an unknown target receptor to which a molecule is capable of binding in a bacterial cell. The patent also describes compounds and kits for carrying out the methods, the abstract states.
 

 
The State University of New York has been awarded US Patent No. 7,083,919, “High-throughput assay for identification of gene expression modifiers.”
 
Inventors listed on the patent are Steven Pruitt, David Hangauer, Carleton Stewart, and Lawrence Mielnicki.
 
According to its abstract, the patent protects a method for screening a large number of compounds for their ability to modulate the expression of genes. The method uses gene-trap technology and comprises the steps of transfecting a population of cells with a gene-trap vector, sorting cells according to their level of fluorescence, distributing sorted cells into pools, and expanding the pools to obtain a sufficient number of cells representing each trapped gene. Exposing the cells to test compounds and identifying compounds which alter the fluorescence distribution pattern of cells using FACS analysis permits distinction of the effect of a test compound over controls, the abstract states.
 

 
Stratagene has been awarded US Patent No. 7,083,931, “Renilla GFP mutants with increased fluorescence intensity and spectral shift.”
 
Vanessa Gurtu is the sole inventor listed on the patent.
 
According to its abstract, the patent protects polynucleotides encoding mutants of green fluorescent protein from Renilla reniformis, including humanized sequences which permit enhanced expression of the encoded polypeptides in mammalian cells.
 

 
Merrimack Pharmaceuticals has been awarded US Patent No. 7,083,938, “Cell-based screening methods.”
 
Inventors listed on the patent are Michael Cardone and Michael Yaffe.
 
According to its abstract, the patent protects cell-based screening methods for determining kinase activity. The methods utilize existing cellular pathways that are regulated by kinases. In one embodiment, various components of a ubiquitin-mediated degradation pathway are modified to create an assay that can be used to screen for a molecule that modulates the activity of a kinase of interest that otherwise does not regulate the degradation pathway. In another embodiment, various components of a protein translocation pathway are modified to screen for a molecule that modulates the activity of a kinase of interest that otherwise does not regulate the translocation pathway.
 

 
Signature Bioscience has been awarded US Patent No. 7,083,985, “Coplanar waveguide biosensor for detecting molecular or cellular events.”
 
Inventors listed on the patent are John Hefti, Barrett Bartell, Kurt Kramer, and Mark Rhodes.
 
According to its abstract, the patent protects a coplanar waveguide biosensor and methods of use. The biosensor includes a coplanar waveguide transmission line and a sample containment structure. The coplanar waveguide transmission line is operable to support the propagation of an electromagnetic signal and includes a signal line and one or more spaced ground elements. The signal line is configured to conduct a time-varying voltage, and the ground elements are configured to maintain a time-invariant voltage, forming a detection region between a portion of the signal line and a portion of the ground elements. Detection methods are improved through the enhancement of the electric field in the detection region via impedance discontinuities in the signal line and ground elements. The sample-containment structure intersects the detection region of the coplanar waveguide transmission line and includes a cavity configured to hold one ml or less of sample solution within the detection region, the abstract states.
 

 
Amgen has been awarded US Patent No. 7,084,259, “G-protein coupled receptors.”
 
Inventors on the patent are Scott Powers, Jianxin Yang, and Gene Cutler.
 
According to its abstract, the patent protects the isolated nucleic acid and amino acid sequences for four G-protein coupled receptors that are amplified in breast cancer cells, antibodies to such receptors, methods of detecting such nucleic acids and receptors, and methods of screening for modulators of G-protein coupled receptors.

The Scan

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Science Papers Examine State of Human Genomic Research, Single-Cell Protein Quantification

In Science this week: a number of editorials and policy reports discuss advances in human genomic research, and more.