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GE Healthcare, Beckman Coulter, Carnegie Mellon, Cytokinetics Among Recent US Patent Winners

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Amersham (GE Healthcare) has been awarded US Patent No. 6,955,462, "Mixing chamber."

Inventors listed in the patent are Raymond Davies, Kim Dyer, and Richard Gunn.

According to its abstract, the patent protects an apparatus for mixing and maintaining particulates in liquid suspension, the apparatus comprising a reservoir for holding a fluid containing dispersed particles; a substantially horizontally disposed mixing plate mounted inside the reservoir, the mixing plate having a plurality of vertical holes extending through the plate; and means for raising and lowering the mixing plate inside the reservoir. According to the patent, the invention relates to dispensing liquid samples containing particles in liquid suspension, and in particular a mixing chamber and a method for mixing and maintaining liquid suspensions of cells, beads, or other particles while they are being pipetted by means of a robotic workstation.


Coulter International (Beckman Coulter) has been awarded US Patent No. 6,955,872, "Dye compositions which provide enhanced differential fluorescence and light scatter characteristics."

Inventors listed on the patent are John Maples, Lidice Lopez, and Nancy Torke.

According to its abstract, the patent protects a composition for enhancing differential staining of RNA, DNA, and granules in a sample comprising cells. The composition contains a first fluorescent dye that can bind specific binding sites and non-specific binding sites in the sample, and that emits fluorescence at a first wavelength. The composition contains at least an additional component, which is a second non-intercalating dye that competes with said first dye for binding to the nonspecific binding sites, or a permeabilizing agent to enhance permabilization of the dyes into the cells, or both. The molar ratio of the second dye and the first dye is at least about 20:1, the abstract states.


Carnegie Mellon University has been awarded US Patent No. 6,956,032, "Cyanine dyes as labeling reagents for detection of biological and other materials by luminescence methods."

Alan Waggoner is the lone inventor listed on the patent.

According to its abstract, the patent protects luminescent dyes and methods for covalently attaching the dyes to a component or mixture of components so that the components may be detected and/or quantified by luminescence detection methods. The dyes are cyanine and cyanine-type dyes that contain or are derivatized to contain a reactive group. The reactive group is covalently reactive with amine, hydroxyl, and/or sulfhydryl groups on the component so that the dye can be covalently bound to the component. In addition, the dyes are preferably soluble in aqueous or other medium in which the component is contained. The components to be labeled can be either biological materials, such as antibodies, antigens, peptides, nucleotides, hormones, drugs, or non-biological materials, such as polymers, glass, or other surfaces. Any luminescent or light absorbing detecting step can be employed in the method of the invention, the abstract states.


Clontech Laboratories has been awarded US Patent No. 6,956,112, "Rapidly degrading GFP-fusion proteins and methods of use."

Inventors listed on the patent are Xianqiang Li and Steve Kain.

According to its abstract, the patent protects GFP fusion proteins with a half life of ten hours or less with several embodiments having half lives of four hours or less. Such proteins may be constructed by fusing C-terminal amino acids of the degradation domain of mouse ornithine decarboxylase (MODC), which contains a PEST sequence, to the C-terminal end of an enhanced variant of GFP (EGFP). Fluorescence intensity of the fusion protein in transfected cells is similar to that of EGFP, but the fusion protein, unlike EGFP, is unstable in the presence of cycloheximide. Specific mutations in the MODC region have resulted in mutants with varying half lives, useful for a variety of purposes, the abstract states.


Pfizer has been awarded US Patent No. 6,956,113, "Bioluminescent assays and bacterial strains useful therein."

Inventors listed on the patent are Jiri Aubrecht, Warren Kim, and Jeffery Osowski.

According to its abstract, the patent protects novel assays for assessing the degree to which a cell is metabolically active. The patent also protects mutagenicity assays and, more specifically, methods for determining whether a given agent is genotoxic. Embodiments of the assays employ a microorganism, or a mammalian cell, that has been genetically modified to produce light when the presence of test agent results in a mutation, e.g., reversion or forward, in the DNA of such microorganism or cell, the abstract states.


Cytokinetics has been awarded US Patent No. 6,956,961, "Extracting shape information contained in cell images."

Inventors listed on the patent are Ge Cong and Eugeni Vaisberg.

According to its abstract, the patent protects methods and an apparatus for the analysis of images of cells and extraction of biologically significant shape-related features from the cell images. The extracted features may be correlated with particular conditions induced by biologically active agents, with which the cells have been treated, thereby enabling the automated analysis of cells based on cell shape parameters. In particular, the invention provides methods for segmentation of cells in an image using a combination of a reference component image data and cell shape-indicative marker image data in a watershed technique. Further, the invention provides a skeletonization and skeleton-analysis technique for extracting biologically-relevant features from cell shapes, the abstract states.

The Scan

Review of Approval Process

Stat News reports the Department for Health and Human Services' Office of the Inspector General is to investigate FDA's approval of Biogen's Alzheimer's disease drug.

Not Quite Right

A new analysis has found hundreds of studies with incorrect nucleotide sequences reported in their methods, according to Nature News.

CRISPR and mRNA Together

Time magazine reports on the use of mRNA to deliver CRISPR machinery.

Nature Papers Present Smartphone Platform for DNA Diagnosis of Malaria, Mouse Lines for Epigenomic Editing

In Nature this week: a low-cost tool to detect infectious diseases like malaria, and more.