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The University of California Board of Regents, Applera Corporation, Cellomics, and Cytokinetics Awarded US Patents

The University of California Board of Regents has been awarded US Patent 7,236,888, “Method to measure the activation state of signaling pathways in cells.”
The inventors listed on the patent are Nancy Allbritton and Christopher Sims.
According to the patent abstract, “The activity of multiple proteins in a single living cell, portion of a cell, or in a group of cells is simultaneously measured by introducing reporter molecules into the cell(s) or a portion thereof, chemically modifying the reporter(s) by the enzyme of interest, terminating the modification reactions, removing the reporter(s) and modified reporter(s), and determining the amount of enzyme activity present by measuring or comparing the amount of reporter(s) and modified reporter(s) present.” The abstract adds that, “By performing a series of experiments at different time points, under varying conditions, and using varieties of cell types, a database is developed for molecular cellular mechanisms in health and disease states. By exposing cells to a variety of compounds, data for drug development and screening is provided.”

Applera Corporation has been awarded US Patent 7,235,374, “Systems for sensitive detection of G-protein coupled receptor and orphan receptor function using reporter enzyme mutant complementation.”
The inventors listed on the patent are Michelle Palmer, Melissa Gee, Bonnie Tillotson, and Xiao-jia Chang.
The patent describes methods “for detecting G-protein coupled receptor activity; methods for assaying GPCR activity; and methods for screening for GPCR ligands, G-protein-coupled receptor kinase activity, and compounds that interact with components of the GPCR regulatory process,” according to its abstract. In addition, the patent includes “methods for expanding ICAST technologies for assaying GPCR activity with applications for ligand fishing, and agonist or antagonist screening. These methods include: engineering seronine/threonine phosphorylation sites into known or orphan GPCR open-reading frames in order to increase the affinity of arrestin for the activated form of the GPCR or to increase the reside time of arrestin on the activated GPCR; engineering mutant arrestin proteins that bind to activated GPCRs in the absence of G-protein coupled receptor kinases which may be limiting; and engineering mutant super-arrestin proteins that have an increased affinity for activated GPCRs with or without phosphorylation.” The abstract states that, ”These methods are intended to increase the robustness of the GPCR/ICAST technology in situations in which G-protein coupled receptor kinases are absent or limiting, or in which the GPCR is not efficiently down-regulated or is rapidly resensitized (thus having a labile interaction with arrestin).” The patent includes “more specific methods for using ICAST complementary enzyme fragments to monitor GPCR homo- and hetero-dimerization with applications for drug lead discovery and ligand and function discovery for orphan GPCRs.”

Cellomics has been awarded US Patent 7,235,373, “System for cell-based screening.”
The inventors listed on the patent are Terry Dunlay and Lansing Taylor.
The invention relates to “an optical system for determining the distribution, environment, or activity of fluorescently labeled reporter molecules in cells for the purpose of screening large numbers of compounds for specific biological activity,“ its abstract states. The patent provides “cells containing fluorescent reporter molecules in an array of locations and scanning numerous cells in each location with a fluorescent microscope, converting the optical information into digital data, and utilizing the digital data to determine the distribution, environment, or activity of the fluorescently labeled reporter molecules in the cells.” According to the abstract, “The array of locations may be an industry standard 96-well or 384-well microtiter plate or a microplate that has cells in a micropatterned array of locations.” The invention includes “the apparatus and a computerized method for processing, displaying, and storing the data.”

Cytokinetics has been awarded US Patent 7,235,353, “Predicting hepatotoxicity using cell-based assays.”
The inventors listed on the patent are Larry Mattheakis, Jay Trautman, Gregg Solar, Jinhong Fan, Eugeni Vaisberg, Cynthia Adams, and Aibing Rao.
The abstract states that, “Cell-based assays are used to assess the hepatotoxicity of a stimulus. Imaging technologies are used to analyze the effects of a stimulus on hepatocytes.” The abstract goes on to say that “Image analysis may characterize the stimulus on the basis of whether it is hepatotoxic, and if so what type of pathology is exhibited; e.g., apoptosis, necrosis, cholestasis, and/or steatosis.”

The Scan

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Science Papers Examine State of Human Genomic Research, Single-Cell Protein Quantification

In Science this week: a number of editorials and policy reports discuss advances in human genomic research, and more.