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Patent Watch: Feb 13, 2009

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Odyssey Thera has been awarded US Patent 7,488,583, "Fragment complementation assays for G-protein-coupled receptors and their signaling pathways."

Inventors listed on the patent are John Westwick, Brigitte Keon, and Marnie MacDonald.

According to its abstract, the patent provides a method of screening a candidate drug, a compound library or a biological extract to identify activators or inhibitors of G-protein-coupled receptors or G-protein-coupled pathways, comprising the use of a fluorescent protein fragment complementation assay to construct an assay for one or more steps in a G-protein-coupled pathway; testing the effects of the candidate drugs, compound library, or biological extract on the receptor or pathway of interest; and using the results of the screening to identify specific agents that activate or inhibit the receptor or pathway of interest. The patent also provides a method for identifying a drug lead that modulates the activity of a G-protein-coupled pathway using a fluorescent protein fragment complementation assay. The method described in the patent is used to identify agonists, antagonists, activators, or inhibitors of G-protein coupled receptors or G-protein-coupled pathways.

(see related story this issue)


The University of Pennsylvania and the Carnegie Institute of Washington have been awarded US Patent 7,488,467, "High-throughput genetic screening of lipid and cholesterol processing using fluorescent compounds."

The inventors listed on the patent are Steven Farber, Michael Pack, and Marnie Halpern.

The patent describes a method using fluorescent lipids, particularly quenched phospholipid or cholesterol analogues, to enable researchers to screen zebrafish for phenotypes representing perturbations of lipid processing; genetic mutations that lead to disorders of phospholipid and/or cholesterol metabolism; and compounds designed to treat disorders of phospholipid and/or cholesterol metabolism, according to its abstract.

The Scan

Pig Organ Transplants Considered

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Food and Drug Administration may soon allow clinical trials that involve transplanting pig organs into humans.

'Poo-Bank' Proposal

Harvard Medical School researchers suggest people should bank stool samples when they are young to transplant when they later develop age-related diseases.

Spurred to Develop Again

New Scientist reports that researchers may have uncovered why about 60 percent of in vitro fertilization embryos stop developing.

Science Papers Examine Breast Milk Cell Populations, Cerebral Cortex Cellular Diversity, Micronesia Population History

In Science this week: unique cell populations found within breast milk, 100 transcriptionally distinct cell populations uncovered in the cerebral cortex, and more.