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The University of Washington, Fluidigm, the Regents of the University of California, Vertex Pharmaceuticals, and Intrinsic Bioprobes Awarded US Patents

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The University of Washington has been awarded US Patent 7,314,968, “Transgenic fish and β-catenin signaling pathway model.”
 
The inventors listed on the patent are Randall Moon and Richard Dorsky.
 
The patent describes a Lef1/β-catenin-dependent reporter and the transgenic fish containing this reporter, according to its abstract. The invention also discusses the use of the reporter and the transgenic fish as a model for the β-catenin signaling pathway. The inventors said that the model is useful for identifying genes in the β-catenin signaling pathway and for identifying drugs that can modulate the β-catenin signaling pathway. Such drugs are useful for treating or preventing melanoma, colorectal cancer, and osteoporosis, among other disease conditions.
 

 
Fluidigm has been awarded US Patent 7,312,085, “Microfluidic particle-analysis systems.”
 
The inventors listed on the patent are Hou-Pu Chou, Antoine Daridon, Kevin Farrell, Brian Fowler, Yish-Hann Liau, Ian Manger, Hany Nassef, and William Throndset.
 
The abstract said the patent provides systems, including the apparatus, methods, and kits, for the microfluidic manipulation and/or detection of particles such as cells and/or beads. The patent also provides the apparatus, methods, and kits for the analysis of these particles. According to the abstract, these mechanisms may enable controlled input, movement/positioning, retention/localization, treatment, measurement, release, and/or output of particles.
 
In addition, these mechanisms may be combined in any appropriate order and/or employed for the appropriate number of times within a system. Such combinations may allow particles to be sorted, cultured, mixed, treated, and/or assayed as single particles, mixed groups of particles, arrays of particles, heterogeneous particle sets, and/or homogeneous particle sets, either in series and/or in parallel. These combinations may also enable microfluidic systems to be reused. Furthermore, these combinations may allow the response of particles to treatment to be measured on a shorter time scale than was previously possible.
 
The abstract stated that systems of the invention may allow a broad range of cell and particle assays, including drug screens, cell characterizations, research studies, and/or clinical analyses, to be scaled down to microfluidic size. Such scaled-down assays may use less sample and reagent, may be less labor intensive, and/or may be more informative than comparable macrofluidic assays.
 

 
The Regents of the University of California have been awarded US Patent 7,312,046, “Method of screening compounds using a nanoporous silicon support containing macrowells for cells.”
 
The inventors listed on the patent are Vicki Chin, Sangeeta Bhatia, Michael Sailor, and Boyce Collins.
 
As stated in the abstract, the patent describes a nanoporous silicon support comprising a plurality of macropores that function as a bioreactor for the maintenance of cells in culture in a differentiated state. Each cell or group of cells is grown in an individual macropore and is provided with nutrients by means such as perfusion of the nanoporous silicon support with fluid. The macropores may be between 0.2 and 200 µm and coated with a substance that promotes cell adhesion, the abstract said. The support containing cells may be used to test compounds for biological activity, metabolism, toxicity, mutagenicity, carcinogenicity or to characterize novel or unknown compounds. The supports are sufficiently robust that they may be assembled into larger reactors to simulate organ function or used for the production of biomolecules.
 

 
Vertex Pharmaceuticals has been awarded US Patent 7,312,043, “Ion channel assay methods.”
 
The inventors listed on the patent are Michael Maher and Jesus Gonzalez.
 
The patent describes a method of characterizing the biological activity of a candidate compound that includes exposing cells to the candidate compound, and then exposing the cells to a repetitive application of electric fields. This technique sets the transmembrane potential to a level corresponding to a pre-selected, voltage-dependent state of a target ion channel.
 

 
The University of Washington has been awarded US Patent 7,312,025, “Methods and systems for extended in vitro culture of neuronal cells.”
 
The inventors listed on the patent are Ryo Kubota, Thomas Reh, and Andrew Fischer.
 
According to the abstract, the patent describes a cell culture system related to extended in vitro culture of mature neuronal cells and methods for preparing the cell culture system. The system comprises a mixture of mature neuronal retinal cells and cells isolated from a ciliary body. Methods for identifying bioactive agents that alter neurodegeneration of neuronal retinal cells are also described, as stated in the abstract.
 

 
Intrinsic Bioprobes has been awarded US Patent 7,311,826, “Integrated high throughput system for the analysis of biomolecules.”
 
The inventors listed on the patent are Kemmons Tubbs, Karl Gruber, and Randall Nelson.
 
The abstract said that the patent describes an affinity microcolumn comprising a high-surface-area material, which has high flow properties and a low dead volume. The column is contained within a housing and has affinity reagents bound to the surface of the high-surface-area material that are either activated or activatable, according to the absract. The affinity reagents bound to the surface of the affinity microcolumn further comprise affinity receptors for the integration into high-throughput analysis of biomolecules.

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