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IP Update: Recent Patents Related to PCR, Nucleic Acid Amplification, and Sample Prep: Aug 5, 2010

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Gen-Probe and Qualigen have been awarded US Patent No. 7,767,447, "Instruments and methods for exposing a receptacle to multiple thermal zones."

Scott Briedenthal, Sara Fan, Richard Lee, Norman Nelson, Michael Poirier, Matthew Scott, and Jason Taylor are listed as inventors on the patent.

Describes a receptacle having a plurality of interconnected chambers arranged to permit multiple process steps or processes to be performed independently or simultaneously. The receptacles are manufactured to separate liquid from dried reagents and to maintain the stability of the dried reagents. An immiscible liquid, such as an oil, is included to control loading of process materials, facilitate mixing and reconstitution of dried reagents, limit evaporation, control heating of reaction materials, concentrate solid support materials to prevent clogging of fluid connections, provide minimum volumes for fluid transfers, and to prevent process materials from sticking to chamber surfaces. The receptacles can be adapted for use in systems having a processing instrument that includes an actuator system for selectively moving fluid substances between chambers and a detector. The actuator system can be arranged to concentrate an analyte present in a sample. The detector can be used to detect an optical signal emitted by the contents of the receptacle.


Samsung Electronics has been awarded US Patent No. 7,767,439, "Real-time PCR monitoring apparatus and method."

Kwang-wook Oh, Jin-tae Kim, Kak Namkoong, and Chin-sung Park are listed as inventors on the patent.

Describes a real-time PCR monitoring apparatus that includes: A microchip-type PCR tube that has a PCR solution-containing PCR chamber; a micro-heater; and a detection unit to detect a PCR product signal based on the PCR solution.

The patent also describes a plurality of modules, each of which includes the aforementioned elements in addition to a cooling fan and a control unit that controls the micro-heater and cooling fan to adjust the temperature of the PCR chamber; a base instrument that comprises a power supply unit connected to the modules and to a data communication unit connected to the control unit of each of the modules; and a display unit displaying data from the data communication unit, wherein the control unit of each of the modules independently controls at least one of both the detection unit and the temperature of the PCR chamber of the PCR tube in each of the modules.


OncomeDx has been awarded US Patent No. 7,767,423, "Method enabling use of extracellular RNA extracted from plasma or serum to detect, monitor, or evaluate cancer."

Michael Kopreski is the sole inventor listed on the patent.

Relates to the use of tumor-derived or associated extracellular RNA found circulating in the plasma or serum fraction of blood to detect, monitor, or evaluate cancer or premalignant conditions. Specifically, the invention enables the extraction of circulating RNA from plasma or serum and uses nucleic acid amplification assays to identify, detect, infer, monitor, or evaluate any neoplasm, or benign, premalignant, or malignant [tumor], in humans or other animals, which might be associated with that RNA. The invention also allows the qualitative or quantitative detection of tumor-derived or associated extracellular RNA circulating in the plasma or serum of humans or animals with or without any prior knowledge of the presence of cancer or premalignant tissue.


Eppendorf has been awarded US Patent No. 7,767,153, "Microtitration plate."

Nico Guelzow and Bernd Petersen are listed as inventors on the patent.

Describes a microtitration plate that has a frame made of a stiff plastic and a plate with a multiplicity of holes; and a multiplicity of vessels made of a second plastic suited for PCR and/or exhibiting permeability to oxygen. The multiplicity of vessels are fixedly connected to the plate by directly molding them to the holes, which have a receiving portion protruding from an underside of the plate, and which are accessible from an upper surface of the plate through apertures.


TwistDx has been awarded US Patent No. 7,763,427, "Detection of recombinase polymerase amplification products."

Olaf Piepenburg, Colin Williams, Niall Armes, and Derek Stemple are listed as inventors on the patent.

Describes three related methods for recombinase-polymerase amplification of a target DNA that exploit the properties of recombinase and related proteins to invade double-stranded DNA with single-stranded homologous DNA permitting sequence-specific priming of DNA polymerase reactions. The disclosed methods have the advantage of not requiring thermocycling or thermophilic enzymes. Further, the improved processivity of the disclosed methods may allow amplification of DNA up to hundreds of megabases in length.


Ventana Medical Systems has been awarded US Patent No. 7,763,421, "Methods for producing nucleic acid hybridization probes that amplify hybridization signal by promoting network formation."

Michael Farrell is the sole inventor listed on the patent.

Describes methods for generating nucleic acid probes that improve the sensitivity of hybridization assays. The sensitivity increase results from structural modifications of nucleic acids that promote network formation during hybridization with the result that a single target molecule becomes attached to a complex of many probe molecules. The structural modification involves fragmentation of the probe nucleic acid followed by joining the fragments together such that their order and orientation and number is altered from the original probe molecule. The result is the generation of permuted probe libraries. Individual members of permuted probe libraries can be isolated, amplified, and perpetuated. Libraries can be prepared with additional sequences not present in the target and the fraction of the library made up by such sequences controlled. Probes for different targets can incorporate different non-target sequences in hyper-molar quantities permitting sensitive detection of multiple hybridization targets in the same sample.


Fluidigm has been awarded US Patent No. 7,749,737, "Thermal reaction device and method for using the same."

Lincoln McBride, Geoffrey Facer, Marc Unger, Michael Lucero, and Hany Hassef are named as inventors on the patent.

Describes a microfluidic device for performing a matrix of reactions, the device having a plurality of reaction cells in communication with one of either a sample inlet or a reagent inlet through a via formed within an elastomeric block of the device. The patent provides a method for forming vias in parallel in an elastomeric layer of an elastomeric block of a microfluidic device, the method comprising using patterned photoresist masks and etching reagents to etch away regions or portions of an elastomeric layer of the elastomeric block.

The Scan

Booster for At-Risk

The New York Times reports that the US Food and Drug Administration has authorized a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech SARS-CoV-2 vaccine for people over 65 or at increased risk.

Preprints OK to Mention Again

Nature News reports the Australian Research Council has changed its new policy and now allows preprints to be cited in grant applications.

Hundreds of Millions More to Share

The US plans to purchase and donate 500 million additional SARS-CoV-2 vaccine doses, according to the Washington Post.

Nature Papers Examine Molecular Program Differences Influencing Neural Cells, Population History of Polynesia

In Nature this week: changes in molecular program during embryonic development leads to different neural cell types, and more.