NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – In a blow to Sequenom, a federal court has invalidated a patent held by the company covering the detection of cell-free DNA in the bloodstream of pregnant women.

On Wednesday, the US District Court for the Northern District of California granted Ariosa Diagnostics summary judgment and invalidated US Patent No. 6,258,540, saying the patent covers a phenomenon of nature, which is unpatentable.

Sequenom holds an exclusive license to the '540 patent, which underlies its MaterniT21 Plus non-invasive prenatal diagnostic test, from Isis Innovations.

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Rob Knight writes at Scientific American that microbiome studies are about to break out of the laboratory.

Harold Varmus, the director of the National Cancer Institute, has announced that he is stepping down after nearly five years.

In Nature this week: omic analysis of permafrost microbes, hookworm genome, and more.

Biologists turn to environmental DNA sampling to determine whether elusive or invasive species are shedding DNA in a given area.