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UCal, Immunex, and Human Genome Sciences Among Recent Patent Winners

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The University of California has been awarded US Patent No. 6,884,577, "Methods for screening compounds for estrogenic activity."

Inventors listed on the patent are Peter Kushner, Paul Webb, Renee Williard, Anthony Hunt, and Gabriella Lopez.

According to its abstract, the patent protects novel assay methods for identifying compounds that may have both estrogen agonist and antagonist properties. In particular, the assays use cells comprising promoters having an AP1 site linked to a reporter gene, the abstract states. Compounds capable of inducing or blocking expression of the reporter gene can thus be identified, and the compounds may be further tested for the ability to modulate the standard estrogen response, the abstract states.


The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation has been awarded US Patent No. 6,884,595, "Immortalized human keratinocyte cell line."

Inventors listed on the patent are Lynn Allen-Hoffmann and Sandra Schlosser.

According to its abstract, the patent protects a spontaneously immortalized human keratinocyte cell line. In a preferred embodiment, this cell line is ATCC 12191, the abstract states. In another embodiment, a method of assaying the effect of a test tumor cell modulation agent is disclosed, which comprises the steps of obtaining a human stratified squamous epithelial cell culture, wherein the culture comprises human malignant squamous epithelial cells and spontaneously immortalized human keratinocytes, and forms a reconstituted epidermis. One then treats the epidermis with a test tumor cell modulation agent and evaluates the growth of the malignant cells within the epidermis, the abstract states.


Immunex has been awarded US Patent No. 6,884,598, "Screening assays for agonists and antagonists of receptor activator of NF-kappaB."

William Dougall is the lone inventor listed on the patent.

According to its abstract, the patent protects methods for screening for a molecule that antagonizes or agonizes RANK activity. One aspect of the invention involves the growth of RANK-responsive cells in semi-solid medium, wherein exposure to a RANK antagonist promotes colony formation, the abstract states. Other aspects of the invention rely on promoter/reporter constructs using RANK-responsive promoters derived from the MMP-9 and TRAP genes. Additional aspects of the invention exploit the ability of RANK to activate c-src activity, F-actin ring formation, and CaPO4 resorption, the abstract states.


Joseph Sorge and Peter Vaillancourt have been awarded US Patent No. 6,884,620, "Humanized polynucleotide sequence encoding Renilla mulleri green fluorescent protein."

Sorge is currently an employee of Stratagene. Vaillancourt is a former employee.

According to its abstract, the patent protects a polynucleotide encoding a green fluorescent protein from Renilla mulleri comprising a humanized sequence which permits enhanced expression of the encoded polypeptide in mammalian cells.


The California Institute of Technology has been awarded US Patent No. 6,884,870, "Fusion proteins for identifying proteases, protease target sites, and regulators of protease activity in living cells."

Inventors listed on the patent are Bruce Hav and Christine Hawkins.

According to its abstract, the patent protects a fusion protein including a reporter polypeptide, a linker polypeptide comprising a protease cleavage site, and a repressor polypeptide. The repressor polypeptide represses the activity of the reporter polypeptide by conferring a specific localization in a cell that reduces activity of the reporter activity until the cleavage site is cleaved, the abstract states. The patent also protects a method for identifying a protease that recognizes a specific protease cleavage site, and further protects a method of identifying a compound that activates a protease, the abstract states.


Precision Therapeutics has been awarded US Patent No. 6,887,680, "Method for preparing cell cultures from biological specimens for chemotherapeutic and other assays."

Paul Kornblith is the lone inventor listed on the patent.

According to its abstract, the patent protects an improved system for screening a multiple of candidate therapeutic or chemotherapeutic agents for efficacy as to a specific patient, in which a tissue sample from the patient is harvested, cultured, and separately exposed to a plurality of treatments and/or therapeutic agents for the purpose of objectively identifying the best treatment or agent for the particular patient. One particularly important tissue sample preparation technique is the initial preparation of cohesive multicellular particulates of the tissue sample, rather than enzymatically dissociated cell suspensions or preparations, for initial tissue culture monolayer preparation, the abstract states. With respect to the culturing of malignant cells, for example, it is believed that by maintaining the malignant cells within a multicellular particulate of the originating tissue, growth of the malignant cells themselves is facilitated, versus the overgrowth of fibroblasts or other cells, which tends to occur when suspended tumor cells are grown in culture. Practical monolayers of cells may thus be formed to enable meaningful screening of a plurality of treatments and/or agents, the abstract states. Growth of cells is monitored to ascertain the time to initiate the assay and to determine the growth rate of the cultured cells; sequence and timing of drug addition is also monitored and optimized. By subjecting uniform samples of cells to a wide variety of active agents and concentrations thereof, the most promising agent and concentration for treatment of a particular patient can be determined, the abstract states.


Human Genome Sciences has been awarded US Patent 6,887,683, "Human G-protein coupled receptors."

Inventors listed on the patent are Yi Li and Steven Ruben.

According to its abstract, the patent protects two human G-protein coupled receptor polypeptides and DNA (RNA) encoding each of such polypeptides and a procedure for producing such polypeptides by recombinant techniques. The patent also protects methods for utilizing such polypeptides for identifying antagonists and agonists to such polypeptides, as well as diagnostic methods for detecting a mutation in the nucleic acid sequence of each of the G-protein coupled receptors, the abstract states.

The Scan

Dropped Charges

The US Justice Department has dropped visa fraud charges against five Chinese researchers, according to the Wall Street Journal.

More Kids

The Associated Press says Moderna is expanding its SARS-CoV-2 vaccine study to included additional children and may include even younger children.

PNAS Papers on Rat Clues to Human Migration, Thyroid Cancer, PolyG-DS

In PNAS this week: ancient rat genome analysis gives hints to human migrations, WDR77 gene mutations in thyroid cancer, and more.

Purnell Choppin Dies

Purnell Choppin, a virologist who led the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, has died at 91, according to the Washington Post.