Hayward, CA –
Biolog, Inc., has been issued two United States patents, one for
a technology that can be used to determine the functions of genes
and the second for novel anti-capsule agents used in cell identification
The company now has 12 U.S. patents in the company’s
core area of cellular testing and analysis. Additional U.S. and
international patents also are pending. The new patents were issued
The gene function patent is a broad seminal
patent that will support Biolog’s recent entry into the rapidly
growing fields of genomics and phenomics. The patent describes the
use of Biolog’s new Phenotype MicroArray (PM) technology and how that technology can be used
to determine the functions of genes.
PM technology is a major new platform for biological
analysis, according to Barry Bochner, Ph.D., Biolog chairman and
PM technology inventor.
“Just as Affymetrix’s GeneChip™ technology allows
for simultaneous measurement of expression levels of thousands of
genes, Biolog’s Phenotype MicroArray technology allows simultaneous
quantitative measurement of thousands of cellular phenotypes,” he
said. “The method for determining gene function covered in this
patent builds onto PM technology, employing comparative phenotype
analysis to directly measure the consequence of a genetic change.
“Modern sequencing technology has enabled explosive
growth in the rate at which genes can be identified but it is still
difficult to determine the functions coded for by genes. Understanding
gene function is important in basic and applied research, especially
as a part of drug discovery programs. It is also highly valued in
being able to stake out intellectual property rights. A strong patent
on a newly discovered gene cannot be obtained without an understanding
of the function of that gene.”
The patented method involves comparing two cell lines,
one of which has the gene of interest inactivated by mutation. These
two cell lines are compared in Phenotype MicroArrays, which can
test thousands of physiological properties of the cell all at once.
This permits the scientist to directly observe how the cell has
changed due to loss of that gene activity. If the gene has many
functions in the cell, this is also detected by the PM technology.
An analysis of this type typically takes a day or two, and many
such analyses can be run automatically using high throughput instrumentation
that the company has developed. Patents are also pending on the
instrumentation that monitors and quantitatively records the response
of cells in Phenotype MicroArrays.
At a fundamental level, the patented technology allows
a very detailed comparison of two cell lines. Beyond functional
genomics there are many situations where this type of comparison
can be very valuable. For example, scientists can compare (1) pathogenic
versus non-pathogenic microorganisms, (2) bacterial, fungal, or
insect cells versus the animal or plant cells that they attack,
(3) virus-infected versus virus-free cells, (4) cancerous cells
versus non-cancerous cells, (5) diseased versus healthy cells, and
(6) cells in various states or stages of growth and development.
“Drug companies looking to define new drug targets
and other researchers will find this approach extremely productive
and valuable, and there is no other way to obtain this type of key
information” said Tim Mullane, Biolog president and CEO. “Until
recently, little direct phenotypic analysis was done because phenotypes
could only be analyzed one at a time. A few companies have introduced
technologies that enable observation of a small number of cellular
phenotypes. Our technology jumps the number up into the thousands.
Biolog is in discussion with several pharmaceutical and biotechnology
companies interested in licensing the technology.”
The second patent describes the discovery of novel
anti-capsule agents. This technology is especially useful in work
with microbial cells which frequently contain an outer coating made
of a complex polysaccharide called a “capsule.” The capsule appears
to play an important role in microbial attachment to surfaces, biofilm
formation, pathogenicity and drug sensitivity. Biolog uses the patented
anti-capsule chemistry in its MicroLog line of microbial cell identification
products and also in its new PM technology.
For more information, contact Biolog at (510)
785-2564 or visit the Biolog website at www.biolog.com.