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Molecular Probes, U of Cal, Cellomics, Cytokinetics Among Recent Patent Winners

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Molecular Probes has received US Patent No. RE 38,723, a reissue of US Patent No. 5,576,424, entitled "Haloalkyl derivatives of reporter molecules used to analyze metabolic activity in cells."

Inventors listed on the patent are Fei Mao, Ram Sabnis, John Naleway, Nels Olson, and Richard Haugland.

According to its abstract, the patent protects substrates useful for analyzing the metabolic activity in cells by improving the retention of a detectable reporter molecule only in intact cells where a particular enzyme is present. In particular, the patent protects improved retention results from a two-part process involving conjugation of haloalkyl-substituted derivatives of a reporter molecule with intracellular cysteine-containing peptides while unblocking the reporter molecule. The substrates have the form XR-SPACER-REPORTER-BLOCK, wherein -BLOCK is a group selected to be removable by action of a specific analyte, to give REPORTER spectral properties different from those of the substrate; -REPORTER- is a molecule that, when no longer bound to -BLOCK by a BLOCK-REPORTER bond, has spectral properties different from those of the substrate; -SPACER- is a covalent linkage; and XR- is a haloalkyl moiety that can covalently react with an intracellular thiol to form a thioether conjugate. After the substrate enters the cells, the analyte removes -BLOCK to make -REPORTER- detectable by the change in spectral properties, and the haloalkyl XR reacts with the intracellular thiol to form the thioether conjugate inside the cells, which is well-retained in the cells, the abstract states.


The University of California has been awarded US Patent No. 6,875,574, "Assays for sensory modulators using a sensory cell-specific G-protein alpha subunit."

Charles Zuker is the lone inventor listed on the patent.

According to its abstract, the patent protects nucleic acid and amino acid sequences of a sensory cell-specific G-protein alpha subunit that are specifically expressed in sensory cells, e.g., taste cells; antibodies to such G-protein alpha subunits; methods of detecting such nucleic acids and subunits; and methods of screening for modulators of a sensory cell-specific G-protein alpha subunit.


Cellomics has been awarded US Patent No. 6,875,578, "System for cell-based screening."

Inventors listed on the patent are Kenneth Giuliano and Ravi Kapur.

According to its abstract, the patent protects systems, methods, screens, reagents and kits for optical system analysis of cells to rapidly determine the distribution, environment, or activity of fluorescently labeled reporter molecules in cells for the purpose of screening large numbers of compounds for those that specifically affect particular biological functions.


Cytokinetics has been awarded US Patent No. 6,876,760, "Classifying cells based on information contained in cell images."

Inventors listed on the patent are Eugeni Vaisberg and Daniel Coleman.

According to its abstract, the patent protects image analysis methods for analyzing images of cells and placing the cells in particular cell cycle phases based upon certain features extracted from the images. The methods can also quantify the total amount of DNA in a cell based on specific features such as fluorescence intensity from fluorescent molecules that bind to DNA. Further, the methods can characterize a cell as mitotic or interphase based on chosen parameters such as the variance in intensity observed in a cell image and/or the size of a region containing DNA. In one example, image analysis methods can classify the cell into one of the following five phases: G1, S, G2, telophase, and an early stage mitotic phase comprised of prophase, metaphase, and anaphase, the abstract states.


Gang Peng, James Hopper, and Tamara Vyshkina have been awarded US Patent No. 6,878,524, "Reagents and methods for detection and characterization of protein-protein interactions, nuclear export and localization sequences, and inducible Gal4p-mediated gene expression in yeast."

There is no institution assigned to the patent, although Hopper is a professor of biological chemistry at Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine.

According to its abstract, the patent protects methods for cytoplasmic detection of protein-protein interactions, nuclear export/localization sequences, and galactose-independent inducible Gal4p-mediated gene expression through the utilization of GAL regulatory factor, Gal80p, and the yeast galactose regulon.

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