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Fluidigm, DiscoveRx, Bristol-Myers Squibb, The Queen’s Medical Center Awarded US Patents

Fluidigm has been awarded US Patent 7,452,726, “Microfluidic particle-analysis systems.”
Inventors listed on the patent are Hou-Pu Chou, Antoine Daridon, Kevin Farrell, Brian Fowler, Yish-Hann Liau, Ian Manger, Hany Nassef, and William Throndset.
The patent describes systems, including apparatus, methods, and kits, for the microfluidic manipulation and/or detection of particles, such as cells and beads. According to the patent, these systems may allow a broad range of cell and particle assays, such as drug screens, cell characterizations, research studies, and/or clinical analyses, among others, to be scaled down to microfluidic size. Such scaled-down assays may use fewer samples and reagent material, may be less labor intensive, and may be more informative than comparable macrofluidic assays, the patent states.

DiscoveRx has been awarded US Patent 7,452,690, “Protease EFC cell surface fusion protein assay.”
Inventors listed on the patent are Pyare Khanna and Joseph Horecka.
The patent provides methods and reagents for measuring protease activity, according to the abstract. The reagent comprises a surface to which is linked an enzyme donor fragment through a protease recognition sequence. The enzyme donor fragment complexes with an enzyme acceptor fragment to form an active indicator enzyme when the enzyme donor fragment is cleaved from the surface. The surface is a cell membrane surface where the reagent is expressed in the cell. The abstract states that the method comprises bringing together the reagent, the protease, the enzyme acceptor, and substrate for the indicator enzyme, and measuring the indicator enzyme activity as a measure of the protease activity. The method has applications in screening for compounds that modulate the activity of the protease.

Bristol-Myers Squibb has been awarded US Patent 7,452,678, “Identification of biomarkers for liver toxicity.”
Inventors listed on the patent are Stephen Durham, Donna Dambach, Stanley Hefta, Frederic Moulin, Ji Gao, Gregory Opiteck, Stephen Storm, Leah Ann Garulacan, and Jun-Hsiang Lin.
The patent claims biomarker polypeptides, polynucleotides, and antibodies that can be used in predicting in vitro and/or in vivo hepatotoxicity of various drugs, compounds, or other therapeutic agents. Also related are screens, kits, microarrays, and cell culture systems that use the polypeptides, polynucleotides, and/or antibodies of the invention.

The Queen's Medical Center in Honolulu, Hawai’i, has been awarded US Patent 7,452,675, “Methods of screening for TRPM4b modulators.”
The inventors listed on the patent are Reinhold Penner and Andrea Fleig.

The patent describes methods useful in identifying molecules that bind TRPM4b, modulate TRPM4b ion channel activity, and/or alter expression of TRPM4b within cells, as stated in the abstract. The TRPM4b channels described in the patent contain TRPM4b polypeptides, which are in turn encoded by TRPM4b nucleic acids. The ion channels described are preferably formed in HEK-293 cells from one or more novel TRPM4b polypeptides, which exhibit one or more of the unique TRPM4b properties described in the patent.

The Scan

Interfering With Invasive Mussels

The Chicago Tribune reports that researchers are studying whether RNA interference- or CRISPR-based approaches can combat invasive freshwater mussels.

Participation Analysis

A new study finds that women tend to participate less at scientific meetings but that some changes can lead to increased involvement, the Guardian reports.

Right Whales' Decline

A research study plans to use genetic analysis to gain insight into population decline among North American right whales, according to CBC.

Science Papers Tie Rare Mutations to Short Stature, Immunodeficiency; Present Single-Cell Transcriptomics Map

In Science this week: pair of mutations in one gene uncovered in brothers with short stature and immunodeficiency, and more.