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Friday, July 07, 2000

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Forbes PE Corp. Claims Ownership Of Life's Building Blocks
"In a patent infringement lawsuit against Affymetrix (nasdaq: AFFX), PE says it not only owns the five chemicals used to synthesize genetic code but has a patent on the process in which they are used. PE is suing Affymetrix for using these five chemicals in this patented process."

"Four of the chemicals in question are the rungs of [the DNA ladder], and these are the base pairs. The fifth is a chemical that the body uses to decode the information on the rungs and turn it into the proteins that make up most of the body. So these chemicals are essential for making Affymetrix’s gene chips, which are silicon chips in which the base pairs are made to stick up like the hooks on a piece of Velcro. But they are also important in all sorts of genetic technologies."

"The chemicals used to make the base pairs were developed nearly 20 years ago at the University of Colorado by professor Marvin Caruthers. He compares owning the patents to this technology to owning the only patents for the automobile; nobody else can make a car without your permission. He doesn’t care much about the patents himself because "The University sold them." "

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Bioinformatics will be at the core of biology in the 21st century. In fields ranging from structural biology to genomics to biomedical imaging, ready access to data and analytical tools are fundamentally changing the way investigators in the life sciences conduct research and approach problems. Complex, computationally intensive biological problems are now being addressed and promise to significantly advance our understanding of biology and medicine. No biological discipline will be unaffected by these technological breakthroughs.


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