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IP Watch: Quanta Biosciences, FujiFilm, Hologic, Samsung, U of California, Others Win US Patents

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The University of Washington has been awarded US Patent No. 8,420,325, "Thermostable polymerases having altered fidelity and methods of identifying and using same."

Lawrence Loeb, Leroy Hood, and Motoshi Suzuki are named as inventors.

Provides a method of identifying a thermostable polymerase having altered fidelity. The method consists of generating a random population of polymerase mutants by mutating at least one amino acid residue of a thermostable polymerase and screening the population for one or more active polymerase mutants by genetic selection. For example, the method may comprise identifying a thermostable polymerase having altered fidelity by mutating at least one amino acid residue in an active site O-helix of a thermostable polymerase. The invention also provides thermostable polymerases and nucleic acids encoding thermostable polymerases having altered fidelity, for example, high- and low-fidelity polymerases. The invention additionally provides methods of identifying one or more mutations in a gene by amplifying the gene with a high-fidelity polymerase; accurately copying repetitive nucleotide sequences using a high-fidelity polymerase mutant; diagnosing a genetic disease using a high-fidelity polymerase mutant; and randomly mutagenizing a gene by amplifying the gene using a low fidelity polymerase mutant.


Quanta Biosciences has been awarded US Patent No. 8,420,324, "Compositions and methods for cDNA synthesis."

Ayoub Rashtchian and David Schuster are named as inventors.

Provides methods for making cDNA molecules, for amplifying RNA by PCR, and for preparing cDNA libraries; as well as kits for making cDNA molecules. The patent also provides compositions comprising mixtures of reagents, including reverse transcriptases, buffers, cofactors, and other components, suitable for immediate use in converting RNA into cDNA and conducting reverse transcription PCR without dilution or addition of further components. These compositions are useful, alone or in the form of kits, for cDNA synthesis or nucleic acid amplification (e.g., by PCR) or for any procedure utilizing reverse transcriptases in a variety of research, medical, diagnostic, forensic, and agricultural applications, the patent's abstract states.


FujiFilm of Tokyo has been awarded US Patent No. 8,420,323, "Nucleic acid amplification method."

Hayato Miyoshi, Yoshihide Iwaki, and Toshihiro Mori are named as inventors.

Provides a method by which a nucleic acid can be amplified using oligonucleotide primers and DNA polymerase. More particularly, the patent provides a nucleic acid amplification method that comprises incubating a reaction solution containing at least one type of deoxynucleotide triphosphate, at least one type of DNA polymerase, at least two types of oligonucleotide primer, and the nucleic acid fragment as a template so as to perform a polymerase reaction. The reaction initiates from the 3' end of the primer and thus amplifies the nucleic acid fragment, wherein a tag sequence is added at the 5' end of the first oligonucleotide primer, the tag sequence being a nucleotide sequence on the template nucleic acid fragment that is present downstream of the sequence and is substantially complementary with the 3' end region of the first oligonucleotide primer (a region where the first oligonucleotide is annealed to the template nucleic acid).


The University of California has been awarded US Patent No. 8,420,318, "Microfabricated integrated DNA analysis system."

Richard Mathies, Robert Blazej, Chung Liu, Palani Kumaresan, and Stephanie Young are named as inventors.

Provides methods and an apparatus for genome analysis. Specifically, the patent describes a microfabricated structure including a microfluidic distribution channel that is configured to distribute microreactor elements having copies of a sequencing template into a plurality of microfabricated thermal cycling chambers. A microreactor element may include a microcarrier element carrying the multiple copies of the sequencing template. The microcarrier element may comprise a microsphere. An autovalve at an exit port of a thermal cycling chamber, an optical scanner, or a timing arrangement may be used to ensure that only one microsphere will flow into one thermal cycling chamber in which thermal cycling extension fragments are produced. The extension products are captured, purified, and concentrated in an integrated oligonucleotide gel capture chamber. A microfabricated component separation apparatus is used to analyze the purified extension fragments. The microfabricated structure may be used in a process for performing sequencing and other genetic analysis of DNA or RNA.


Gen-Probe (Hologic) has been awarded US Patent No. 8,420,317, "Alkaline shock-based method of processing a biological sample."

Kui Gao, Michael Becker, Wen Wu, and Jeffrey Linnen are named as inventors.

Describes a method of processing a biological sample to yield nucleic acid appropriate for use in a subsequent in vitro nucleic acid amplification reaction. The method involves a rapid, transient exposure to alkaline conditions which can be achieved by mixing an alkaline solution with a pH-buffered solution that includes a detergent and the biological sample to be tested for the presence of particular nucleic acid species using in vitro amplification. The invented method can improve detection of some target nucleic acids without substantially compromising detectability of others, and is particularly useful to simultaneously prepare RNA and DNA templates that can be used in multiplex amplification reactions.


Samsung Electronics of Suwon-si, South Korea, has been awarded US Patent No. 8,420,026, "Centrifugal force-based microfluidic device for nucleic acid extraction and microfluidic system including the microfluidic device."

Yoon-kyoung Cho, Jeong-gun Lee, Beom-seok Lee, and Jong-myeon Park are named as inventors.

Describes a centrifugal force-based microfluidic device for nucleic acid extraction and a microfluidic system. The microfluidic device includes a body of revolution and a microfluidic structure disposed in the body of revolution. The microfluidic structure includes a plurality of chambers, channels connecting the chambers, and valves disposed in the channels to control fluid flow, such that the microfluidic structure transmits the fluid using centrifugal force due to rotation of the body of revolution. The device also includes magnetic beads contained in one of the chambers which collect a target material from a biomaterial sample flowing into the chamber. The microfluidic structure washes the magnetic beads that collect the target material, and separates nucleic acid by electromagnetic wave irradiation from an external energy source to the magnetic beads. The microfluidic system includes the microfluidic device; a rotation operating unit which rotates the body of revolution; and an external energy source which irradiates electromagnetic waves.


Longhorn Vaccines & Diagnostics has been awarded US Patent No. 8,415,330, "Biological specimen collection and transport system and method of use."

Gerald Fischer and Luke Daum are named as inventors.

Discloses compositions for isolating populations of nucleic acids from biological, forensic, and environmental samples. The patent also discloses methods for using these compositions as one-step formulations for killing pathogens, inactivating nucleases, releasing polynucleotides from other cellular components within the sample, and stabilizing the nucleic acids prior to further processing or assay. The disclosed compositions safely facilitate rapid sample collection, and provide extended storage and transport of the samples at ambient or elevated temperature without contamination of the sample or degradation of the nucleic acids contained therein. This process particularly facilitates the collection of specimens from remote locations, and under conditions previously considered hostile for preserving the integrity of nucleic acids released from lysed biological samples without the need of refrigeration or freezing prior to molecular analysis.

The Scan

Should've Been Spotted Sooner

Scientists tell the Guardian that SARS-CoV-2 testing issues at a UK lab should have been noticed earlier.

For Martian Fuel

Researchers have outlined a plan to produce rocket fuel on Mars that uses a combination of sunlight, carbon dioxide, frozen water, cyanobacteria, and engineered E. coli, according to Gizmodo.

To Boost Rapid Testing

The Washington Post writes that new US programs aim to boost the availability of rapid at-home SARS-CoV-2 tests.

PNAS Papers on Strawberry Evolution, Cell Cycle Regulators, False-Positive Triplex Gene Editing

In PNAS this week: strawberry pan-genome, cell cycle-related roles for MDM2 and MDMX, and more.