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University of Washington, Johns Hopkins, Toshiba, and BASF Win US Patents

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The University of Washington in Seattle has been awarded US Patent No. 7,148,006, “Screening methods to identify agents that selectively inhibit hepatitis C virus replication.”
 
Inventors listed on the patent are Michael Katze and Michael Gale.
 
According to its abstract, the patent protects methods for identifying antiviral agents that selectively interfere with viral proteins that override the interferon (IFN)-induced cellular defense mechanisms against viral infection. In particular, the patent describes screening assays that identify agents which selectively inhibit the interaction between viral proteins containing an interferon sensitivity determining region (ISDR) and IFN-induced PKR protein kinase. The patent more particularly relates to screening assays that identify agents which selectively inhibit the interaction between hepatitis C virus nonstructural 5A protein, which contains an ISDR, and IFN-induced PKR protein kinase. The interaction between the viral ISDR and IFN-induced PKR protein kinase results in the override of IFN-induced cellular defense mechanisms to combat viral infection. Therefore the agents identified using the assays of the invention may have utility as antiviral agents, the abstract states.
 

 
Toshiba of Tokyo has been awarded US Patent No. 7,148,007, “Method for evaluating immunotoxicity of test substance.”
 
Inventors listed on the patent are Mitusuko Ishihara and Satoshi Itoh.
 
According to its abstract, the patent protects a method of evaluating the immunotoxicity of a hydrophobic test substance comprising culturing immunocompetent cells in a culture system containing a hydrophobic test substance and a surfactant; obtaining a survival rate of the immunocompetent cells after the culturing; and evaluating the immunotoxicity of the hydrophobic test substance from the obtained survival rate.
 

 
Johns Hopkins University of Baltimore, Md., has been awarded US Patent No. 7,148,009, “Cancer drug screen based on cell cycle uncoupling.”
 
Inventors listed on the patent are Bert Vogelstein, Todd Waldman, Christoph Lengauer, and Kenneth Kinzler.
 
According to its abstract, the patent protects a method in which checkpoint gene-defective human cells are used to screen potential anti-tumor agents. Specifically, potential therapeutic agents are screened for the ability to cause DNA accumulation or cell death in a checkpoint gene-defective human cell, the abstract states.
 

 
BASF of Ludwigshafen, Germany, has been awarded US Patent No. 7,148,053, “Heterologous G protein-coupled receptors expressed in yeast, their fusion with G proteins, and use thereof in bioassay.”
 
Inventors listed on the patent are Mark Pausch, Bradley Ozenberger, John Hadcock, Laura Price, Eileen Kajkowski, Donald Kirsch, and Deborah Chaleff.
 
According to its abstract, the patent protects expression vectors and yeast cells that contain a heterologous G protein-coupled receptor gene and a gene mutation that causes increased sensitivity to receptor activation or a gene mutation that permits transcriptional activation of pheromone-responsive genes without cell cycle arrest. The patent also protects methods of making the yeast cells.

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