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Patent Watch: Jan 2, 2009

Neutekbio and Le Centre Nationale de la Recherche Scientifique have been awarded US Patent 7,470,536, “Gene reporter assay, kit, and cells for determining the presence and/or the level of a molecule that activates signal transduction activity of a cell surface protein.”
The inventors listed on the patent are Michael Tovey and Christophe Lallemand.
The patent relates to commercializable cells, and to a gene reporter assay method and a kit which uses these cells to determine the presence and/or the level of a molecule that activates signal transduction activity of a cell surface protein, as stated in its abstract. The cells are treated in such a manner that they will have a sufficiently long shelf life for their intended purpose, and at the end of their useful shelf life or at the end of their use, i.e., in an assay, the cells undergo cellular death.

Transparent has been awarded US Patent 7,470,424, “Cultured cell construct containing spheroids of cultured animal cells and utilization thereof.”
The inventors listed on the patent are Kazunori Kataoka, Hidenori Otsuka, Teruo Okano, Yukio Nagasaki, and Yasuhiro Horiike.
According to its abstract, the patent describes parenchymal cells that are cultivated on endothelial cells or fibroblasts that have been separated by a surface of a specific hydrophilic polymer, and that have been patterned. A culture that contains thus formed patterned spheroids of cultivated parenchymal cells is provided by this patent. This culture maintains a function that is specific to the parenchymal cells over a long period of time.

Ocimum Biosolutions has been awarded US Patent 7,469,185, “Primary rat hepatocyte toxicity modeling.”
The inventors listed on the patent are Donna Mendrick, Mark Porter, Kory Johnson, Brandon Higgs, Arthur Castle, Michael Orr, and Michael Elashoff.
Its abstract states that the patent is based on the elucidation of the global changes in gene expression and the identification of toxicity markers in tissues or cells exposed to a known toxin. The genes may be used as toxicity markers in drug screening and toxicity assays. The invention claims a database of genes characterized by toxin-induced differential expression that is designed for use with microarrays and other solid-phase probes.

GE Healthcare Niagara has been awarded US Patent 7,469,056, “System and methods for rapid and automated screening of cells.”
The inventors listed on the patent are Peter Ramm, Yuriy Alexandrov, Jurich Cybuch, Paul Donders, Carlos Zarate, and Bohdan Soltys.
The patent claims a system for performing automated cell screening in drug discovery, including an automated microscope, a fast autofocus device, and a digital imaging system. Processes are implemented in software through which relevant cellular material is segmented and quantified with minimal user interaction. Known methods for image processing are implemented in such a way that automated segmentation is achieved; sets of known measurements (pixel counting, etc.) are implemented as methods which demonstrate aspects of biology in a reliable fashion; components for automated positioning, focusing, imaging, and processing of a multiplicity of samples are integrated as systems within which the segmentation and measurement methods may be mounted; and components and methods are adapted into systems which yield more highly automated and more rapid cell screening.

Acea Biosciences has been awarded US Patent 7,468,255, “Method for assaying for natural killer, cytotoxic T-lymphocyte and neutrophil-mediated killing of target cells using real-time microelectronic cell sensing technology.”
The inventors listed on the patent are Xiao Xu, Yama Abassi, and Xiaobo Wang.
As stated in the abstract, the patent describes a method of measuring cytolytic activity including providing a device capable of monitoring cell-substrate impedance operably connected to an impedance analyzer, adding target cells to at least one well of the device, adding effector cells to those well(s), monitoring impedance of the well(s), and optionally determining a cell index from the impedance, wherein monitoring impedance includes measuring impedance during at least one time point before and at least one time point after adding the effector cells, and determining the viability of said target cells after adding effector cells by comparing the impedance or optionally the cell index at at least one time point after adding the effector cells to the impedance or optionally the cell index at at least one time point before adding effector cells.

Chemocentryx has been awarded US Patent 7,468,253, “Method for multiple chemokine receptor screening for antagonists using RAM assay.”
The inventor listed on the patent is Zheng Wei.
The patent describes a modified cell migration assay allowing for improved identification and discrimination of chemokine receptor antagonists from non-specific migration blockers, according to its abstract.

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In Science this week: neural network to predict chemotherapeutic response in cancer patients, and more.