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IP Roundup: Fluidigm, Affymetrix, Illumina, CalTech, IBM, CapitalBio, Tsinghua University, and Others


Fluidigm of South San Francisco, Calif., has received US Patent No. 8,591,834, "High efficiency and high precision microfluidic devices and methods." The patent describes high-density microfluidic devices and methods that provide precise metering of fluid volumes and efficient mixing of the metered volumes. According to the patent, a first solution is introduced into a segment of a flow channel in fluidic communication with a reaction chamber. A second solution is then flowed through the segment so that the first solution is displaced into the reaction chamber, and a volume of the second solution enters the chamber. The chamber can then be isolated and reactions within the chamber can be initiated and/or detected. High-throughput methods of genetic analysis can be carried out with greater accuracy than previously available.

ANP Technologies of Newark, Del., has received US Patent Nos. 8,591,904 and 8,597,653, both entitled "Asymmetrically branched polymer conjugates and microarray assays." The patent claims a conjugate of a modified randomly branched asymmetric polymer without a core and a member of a binding pair. According to the inventors, the modified randomly branched asymmetric polymer can contain chain branches, terminal branches or both. The polymers can also be used to carry protein molecules to various solid surfaces, and can be used, for example, for the generation of plate microarrays based on spatial arrangements for the production of bead-, micro- or nanoarrays and assays.

Affymetrix of Santa Clara, Calif., has received US Patent No. 8,592,136, "Methods for producing codes for microparticles." The patent provides a method of encoding microparticles with a printing process to define different codes for identifying the microparticles. It includes providing a pattern that defines a single code element per microparticle region; printing a first code element with the pattern; and printing an at least one successive code element with the pattern such that the first and at least one successive code elements are within the same microparticle region. According to the patent, the first code element and the successive code elements are aligned along an axis, and different codes for the microparticles are formed by varying a distance between the first and the successive code elements.

Illumina of San Diego has received US Patent No. 8,592,214, "Chemical reaction monitor." The patent claims systems for monitoring chemical reactions. The systems include a lighting device, a camera device for obtaining an image of the chemical reaction mixtures, and an analyzer program to process data obtained from the image. Also disclosed are methods of monitoring the progress of chemical reactions using these systems.

The California Institute of Technology of Pasadena has received US Patent No. 8,592,215, "Microfabricated crossflow devices and methods." The patent provides microfabricated devices and methods for detecting, analyzing, and sorting biological materials and particles. Droplets containing the particles are provided in an extrusion fluid, passed through a detection region, and then directed into a branch channel, according to predetermined characteristics. More specifically, cells or viral particles contained in droplets of aqueous solvent are flowed past a detector in the nonpolar extrusion fluid decane, and routed into a selected branch channel for subsequent analysis.

Genrif of Mombris, Germany, has received US Patent No. 8,592,224, "Biochip for archiving and laboratory-medical analysis of biological sample material, process for its production, and its use in diagnostic methods." According to the patent, the biochip is created by binding biological sample material to a surface of a sample carrier; selecting a diagnostic detection reagent that is known to specifically interact with or bind to the analyte of interest; applying the reagent using a pipetting robot; applying wash liquids to suppress unspecific reactions; detecting measurement signals from positively reacting micro-areas; and evaluating the signals for the presence or absence of the analytes and storing the measurement data.

IBM of Armonk, NY, has received US Patent No. 8,594,940, "System and method for analyzing chromosomal states based on gene expression." The method described permits the analysis of chromosomal states based on amounts of expression of genes. The patent provides an apparatus that consists of a unit for storing probability distribution of amounts of expression of genes for each chromosomal state; a unit for supplying state transition probability; an input unit for receiving an expression amount measurement value; and a unit for detecting a combination of the chromosomal states maximizing a probability among those that can be assumed by the genes on the chromosome, based on the probability distribution and the state transition probability.

The National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology of Tokyo has received US Patent No. 8,597,576, "Analyzer for glycan or complex carbohydrate." The claimed analyzer includes a substrate, a fluorescent labeling excitation means, and a fluorescent intensity measurement means. According to the patent, the substrate consists of a rectangle photoconductive base plate, open-topped reaction vessels formed on the surface of the base plate, and spots of glycan-binding proteins arranged in a matrix and immobilized on the surface of the base plate in the reaction vessel.

CapitalBio and Tsinghua University, both of Beijing, have received US Patent No. 8,597,592, "Microvalve controlled precision fluid dispensing apparatus with a self-purging feature and method for use." Methods for the precise, repeatable dispensing of small, sample fluid volumes, especially as related to the printing of microarrays for biological and chemical testing, are claimed. According to the patent, a pressure tuning module meters fluid volumes for aspiration and dispensation and builds pressure for fluid dispensation, in conjunction with a microvalve that precisely controls the volume of the fluid dispensed under the built pressure. A pressure source can be switched in line to purge the apparatus of residual sample fluid. A working fluid can be aspirated into the system, prior to aspirating the sample fluid, in order to maximize sample fluid recovery.

Seng Enterprises of Lanarca, Cyprus, has received US Patent No. 8,597,597, "Picoliter well holding device and method of making the same." The patent claims embossing methods for forming picoliter well arrays; arrangements of such arrays, for example, in arrays of picoliter well areas; and methods of forming templates for such embossing. Also described are wells with a refractive index similar to that of an aqueous medium used for supporting cells in wells.

Surface Innovations of Wolsingham, UK, has received US Patent No. 8,597,736, "Method for producing a grafted polymer coating and substrates formed in accordance with the method." According to the patent, a plasma-deposited coating is applied to a substrate and the polymer coating formed by the surface-initiated polymerization is formed on the coating rather than the substrate itself. This allows the growth of the polymer independently of the substrate's form.

Genome Atlantic of Halifax, Canada, has received US Patent No. 8,597,887, "Genetic marker identification in Atlantic cod." The patent provides SNPs useful for the genetic analysis of Atlantic cod. Also described are QTLs and SNP marker associations for commercially important traits such as weight, nodavirus resistance, resistance to stress, and for determining geographic origin. A SNP-based linkage map for Atlantic cod is also provided. According to the inventors, a number of methods can be used to detect the SNPs identified in the patent, including genotyping microarrays.

The Scan

Renewed Gain-of-Function Worries

The New York Times writes that the pandemic is renewing concerns about gain-of-function research.

Who's Getting the Patents?

A trio of researchers has analyzed gender trends in biomedical patents issued between 1976 and 2010 in the US, New Scientist reports.

Other Uses

CBS Sunday Morning looks at how mRNA vaccine technology could be applied beyond SARS-CoV-2.

PLOS Papers Present Analysis of Cervicovaginal Microbiome, Glycosylation in Model Archaea, More

In PLOS this week: functional potential of the cervicovaginal microbiome, glycosylation patterns in model archaea, and more.