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IP Watch: Recent Patents Related to PCR, Nucleic Acid Amplification, and Sample Prep: Nov 17, 2010

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This article has been updated from a previous version to include a patent awarded to Rheonix.

Ikonisys has been awarded US Patent No. 7,835,869, "Method and apparatus for computer controlled rare cell, including fetal cell, based diagnosis."

Petros Tsipouras and Triantafyllos Tafas are named as inventors on the patent.

Provides a computer-controlled method for detecting and diagnosing a rare cell type in a tissue sample. The method comprises treating the tissue sample such that it generates a first signal indicative of the presence at a location of a rare cell; detecting the first signal; treating the location at which the first signal is detected to generate a second signal indicative of a diagnostically useful cellular characteristic; and detecting the second signal. The first signal can be morphological or a color present in a sought cell either before or after staining. The second signal can be generated by in situ PCR or PCR in situ hybridization. In one preferred embodiment, the rare cell type is a fetal cell in a maternal blood tissue sample consisting of a smear of unenriched maternal blood. In another embodiment, the method is used to diagnose or genotype cancer cells in a blood or tissue biopsy sample.


Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics has been awarded US Patent No. 7,833,758, "Identification of oligonucleotides for the capture, detection and quantitation of West Nile virus."

Venkatakrishna Shyamala is the sole inventor named on the patent.

Discloses West Nile virus capture oligonucleotides, primers, and probes derived from conserved regions of the West Nile virus genome. Also discloses nucleic acid-based assays using the capture oligonucleotides, primers, and probes.


Gen-Probe has been awarded US Patent No. 7,833,716, "Tagged oligonucleotides and their use in nucleic acid amplification methods."

Michael Becker, Kristin Livezey, and Wai-Chung Lam are named as inventors on the patent.

Discloses a method for selective amplification of at least one target nucleic acid sequence. The method comprises treating a sample with a tagged oligonucleotide that comprises a target hybridizing sequence that hybridizes to a 3'-end of the target nucleic acid sequence, and a tag sequence situated 5' to the target hybridizing sequence that does not stably hybridize to a target nucleic acid. The tagged oligonucleotide is hybridized to target nucleic acids to form tagged target nucleic acids prior to initiating a primer extension reaction. Remaining steps include reducing the effective concentration of unhybridized tagged oligonucleotide having an active form; initiating an extension reaction to produce a primer extension product; separating the primer extension product from the target nucleic acid; and producing amplification products therefrom using an oligonucleotide that hybridizes to the complement of the tag sequence.


WaferGen has been awarded US Patent No. 7,833,709, "Thermo-controllable chips for multiplex analyses."

Victor Joseph, Amjad Huda, Alnoor Shivji, and Jie Zhou are named as inventors on the patent.

Provides miniaturized instruments for conducting chemical reactions where control of the reaction temperature is desired or required. Specifically, the invention provides chips and optical systems for performing and monitoring temperature-dependent chemical reactions. The apparatus and methods embodied in the invention are particularly useful for high-throughput and low-cost amplification of nucleic acids, the patent's abstract states.


The California Institute of Technology has been awarded US Patent No. 7,833,708, "Nucleic acid amplification using microfluidic devices."

Markus Enzelberger, Carl Hansen, Jian Liu, Stephen Quake, and Chiem Ma are named as inventors on the patent.

Provides microfluidic devices and methods using the same in various types of thermal cycling reactions. Certain devices include a rotary microfluidic channel and a plurality of temperature regions at different locations along the rotary microfluidic channel at which temperature is regulated. Solution can be repeatedly passed through the temperature regions such that it is exposed to different temperatures. Other microfluidic devices include an array of reaction chambers formed by intersecting vertical and horizontal flow channels, with the ability to regulate temperature at the reaction chambers. The microfluidic devices can be used to conduct a number of different analyses, including various primer extension reactions and nucleic acid amplification reactions.


Rheonix has been awarded US Patent No. 7,832,429, "Microfluidic pump and valve structures and fabrication methods."

Lincoln Young and Peng Zhou are named as inventors on the patent.

Describes plastic microfluidic structures having a substantially rigid diaphragm that actuates between a relaxed state wherein the diaphragm sits against the surface of a substrate; and an actuated state wherein the diaphragm is moved away from the substrate. The microfluidic structures formed with this diaphragm provide easy to manufacture and robust systems, as well readily made components such as valves and pumps, the patent's abstract states.

The Scan

Comfort of Home

The Guardian reports that AstraZeneca is to run more clinical trials from people's homes with the aim of increasing participant diversity.

Keep Under Control

Genetic technologies are among the tools suggested to manage invasive species and feral animals in Australia, Newsweek says.

Just Make It

The New York Times writes that there is increased interest in applying gene synthesis to even more applications.

Nucleic Acids Research Papers on OncoDB, mBodyMap, Genomicus

In Nucleic Acids Research this week: database to analyze large cancer datasets, human body microbe database, and more.