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Galapagos and Merck Are Among Recent US Patent Winners


Galapagos Genomics has been awarded US Patent No. 7,029,848, "High-throughput screening of gene function using libraries for functional genomics applications."

Inventors listed on the patent are Ronald Vogels, Abraham Bout, Helmuth van Es, and Govert Schouten.

According to its abstract, the patent protects novel means and methods to determine the function of the product(s) of one or more sample nucleic acids. The sample nucleic acids are synthetic oligonucleotides, DNA, or cDNA; and encode polypeptides, antisense nucleic acids, or GSEs. The sample nucleic acids are expressed in a host, such as a cell, by a vehicle to alter at least one phenotype of the host. The altered phenotypes are identified as a means to assign a biological function to the products encoded by the sample nucleic acids, the abstract states.

Merck has been awarded US Patent No. 7,029,868, "Cell fusion assays using fluorescence resonance energy transfer."

Inventors listed on the patent are Kathleen Sullivan, Diana Benincasa, Margaret Cascieri, Lyndon Mitnaul, Lin-Lin Shiao, and Michael Tota.

According to its abstract, the patent protects methods of identifying inhibitors of the fusion of two types of cells, particularly when fusion is mediated by the interaction of a viral protein and cellular proteins such as CD4 and chemokine receptors. The methods are suitable for identifying substances that are useful for the treatment and prevention of viral diseases. Particularly preferred methods are useful for the identification of inhibitors of HIV-1 infection, the abstract states.

Albrecht Zimmerman and Albrecht Sippel of the University of Frieburg, Germany, have been awarded US Patent No. 7,029,905, "Method for the cellular high-throughput detection of receptor-ligand interactions."

According to its abstract, the patent relates to cells with a membrane receptor comprising a ligand-binding section, a membrane-localization signal, and a mediator section. The membrane receptor is such that only when there is binding; or, alternatively, only when there is a lack of binding of a ligand to the ligand-binding section of the membrane receptor is a structural change brought about. This structural change affects the mediator section to result in binding of an effector protein or polypeptide, which is capable of activating a Ras or Ras-like signal pathway in the cell, to the component of the membrane, via other proteins or polypeptides (adaptors). The patent further relates to assay methods employing these cells, which are used, among other things, to detect specific interactions between said membrane receptor and a ligand, and kits for use in these assays.

The Scan

Booster for At-Risk

The New York Times reports that the US Food and Drug Administration has authorized a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech SARS-CoV-2 vaccine for people over 65 or at increased risk.

Preprints OK to Mention Again

Nature News reports the Australian Research Council has changed its new policy and now allows preprints to be cited in grant applications.

Hundreds of Millions More to Share

The US plans to purchase and donate 500 million additional SARS-CoV-2 vaccine doses, according to the Washington Post.

Nature Papers Examine Molecular Program Differences Influencing Neural Cells, Population History of Polynesia

In Nature this week: changes in molecular program during embryonic development leads to different neural cell types, and more.