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Xenogen, Merck, Geron, U of Colorado, Florida State, Rigel, BD, and Acea Win Cell-Based Assay-Related Patents

Xenogen of Alameda, Calif., has been awarded US Patent No. 7,196,190, “Methods and compositions for screening for angiogenesis modulating compounds.”
Inventors listed on the patent are Zhang Ning, Pamela Reilly Contag, and Anthony Purchio.
The patent protects transcription control elements, including promoters, derived from angiogenesis-related genes, particularly the mouse VEGF gene, the mouse VEGFR-2 receptor gene, and the mouse Tie2 gene. The patent also protects nucleic acid constructs comprising those promoters, recombinant cells and transgenic animals comprising the nucleic acid constructs, and screening methods using those recombinant cells and transgenic animals, “particularly methods of screening for therapeutic compounds that modulate tumorigenesis and angiogenesis,” according to the patent abstract.

Merck of Rahway, NJ, has been awarded US Patent No. 7,196,163, “Assays using amyloid precursor proteins with modified beta-secretase cleavage sites to monitor beta-secretase activity.”
Inventors listed on the patent are Daria Jean Hazuda, Elizabeth Chen Dodson, Ming-Tain Lai, Min Xu, Xiao-Ping Shi, Adam Simon, Guoxin Wu, Yueming Li, and Bruce Register.
The patent protects methods of identifying inhibitors of beta-secretase that employ modified beta-secretase substrates with beta-secretase cleavage sites that are altered from wild type. Stable cell lines and transgenic animals expressing the modified beta-secretase substrates are also provided.

Geron of Menlo Park, Calif., and the Regents of the University of Colorado of Boulder, Colo., have been awarded US Patent No. 7,195,911, “Mammalian cells that have increased proliferative capacity.”
Inventors listed on the patent are Thomas Cech, Joachim Lingner, Toru Nakamura, Karen Chapman, Gregg Morin, Calvin Harley, and William Andrews.
The invention covers cells comprising a recombinant polynucleotide sequence that encodes a telomerase reverse transcriptase protein, variant, or fragment having telomerase catalytic activity when complexed with a telomerase RNA.

The Florida State University Research Foundation of Tallahassee, Fl., has been awarded US Patent No. 7,195,899, “Cell-based biosensor for harmful airborne agents.”
Inventors listed on the patent are Wei-Chun Chin and Soonjo Kwon.
The patent protects a method of monitoring an air atmosphere for a harmful biological or chemical agent. The method is based on mammalian respiratory airway epithelial cells borne on a porous support. The support is in contact with a cell nutrient medium and with air, and an air flow is created over the air-liquid interface so that the respiratory epithelial cells are contacted by the sampled air. The cells are monitored for at least one physiological parameter indicating the cells have been exposed to the harmful agent.

Rigel Pharmaceuticals of South San Francisco, Calif., and Becton, Dickinson and Company of Franklin Lakes, NJ, have been awarded US Patent No. 7,193,052, “Discosoma red fluorescent proteins.”
The inventor listed on the patent is Beau Peelle.
The invention covers directed protein evolution in mammalian cells and improved mutants of Discosoma sp. red fluorescent proteins, according to the patent abstract. The variants of Discosoma red fluorescent protein are generated using directed molecular evolution in mammalian cells. The variants of the invention have “greatly improved brightness, expression, and/or folding kinetics as compared to wild type or a codon optimized variant,” according to the patent, which claims that the same methods of directed protein evolution in mammalian cells can be used to provide improved variants of fluorescent proteins from other sources, such as Aequorea victoria, Renilla reniformis, Renilla muelleri, and Ptilosarcus gurneyi

Acea BioSciences of San Diego, Calif., has been awarded US Patent No. 7,192,752, “Real time electronic cell sensing systems and applications for cell-based assays.”
Inventors listed on the patent are Xiao Xu, Yama Abassi, Xiaobo Wang, and Jiangbo Gan.
The invention includes devices, systems, and methods for assaying cells using cell-substrate impedance monitoring. In one aspect, the invention provides cellular assays that use impedance monitoring to detect changes in cell behavior or state. In some preferred aspects, “the assays are designed to investigate the affects of compounds on cells, such as cytotoxicity assays. In other preferred aspects, the assays are designed to investigate the compounds that effect IgE-mediated responses of cells to antigens,” according to the patent abstract.

The Scan

Guidelines for Ancient DNA Work

More than two dozen researchers have developed new ethical guidelines for conducting ancient DNA research, which they present in Nature.

And Cleared

A UK regulator has cleared former UK Prime Minister David Cameron in concerns he should have registered as a consultant-lobbyist for his work with Illumina, according to the Financial Times.

Suit Over Allegations

The Boston Globe reports that David Sabatini, who was placed on leave from MIT after allegations of sexual harassment, is suing his accuser, the Whitehead Institute, and the institute's director.

Nature Papers on Esophageal Cancer, Origin of Modern Horses, Exome Sequencing of UK Biobank Participants

In Nature this week: genetic and environmental influences of esophageal cancer, domestic horse origin traced to Western Eurasian steppes, and more.