Recent Patents on Biotechnology (v.3, #1)

Recent Patents on Cell Cycle Regulatory Proteins by Julius Chulu, Hung Liu (1-9).
Cell cycle progression and cell division are driven by the sequential activation of a group of serine-threonine kinases called cyclin-dependent kinases (Cdks). Multiple Cdks control the cell cycle in mammals and have been long considered essential for normal proliferation, development and homeostasis. The importance of the Cdk-cyclin complexes in cell proliferation is underscored by the fact that deregulation of the Cdk activity is found in virtually the whole spectrum of human tumors. Advances in the cell cycle proteins in the last 25 years, since the discovery of cyclins, have been discussed and have shed even more light on this essential life sustaining process. Recent information from different models for the various cyclins and Cdks have made some of the generally accepted concepts of cell cycle regulation to be revised and new and exciting questions to be investigated. There is also increasing evidence that suggests that Cdks such as Cdc2 are also commonly targeted by viral proteins, which modulate host cell cycle machinery to benefit viral survival or replication. This review, describes some of the most recent and important US patents related to cell cycle regulation and those on viral proteins involved in cell cycle modulation particularly the G2/M phase transition and cancer therapy.

Termites as Functional Gene Resources by Toru Matsui, Gaku Tokuda, Naoya Shinzato (10-18).
Termites (Dictyoptera, Isoptera) comprise a complex assemblage of diverse species, roughly divided into socalled lower and higher termites. Lower termites harbor a dense and diverse population of prokaryotes and flagellated protists (single-cell eukaryotes) in their gut. Higher termites comprise only one apical family (Termitidae) but more than three-quarters of all termite species. While they also harbor a dense and diverse array of prokaryotes, higher termites typically lack flagellated protists. Although termites are regarded as harmful because of the ability to decompose cellulosic materials such as houses made of wood. Classical enrichment culture technique and recent metagenomic approach showed that the termites and/or their symbionts are potentially good resource of functional genes for industrial applications. Recent papers and patents showed termites and its symbionts have not only cellulolytic or lignin decomposition activity but also aromatic hydrocarbons degradation. These functions would be useful for biomass utilization, environmental remediation, and fine-chemicals production. In this review, along with the current patents of termite derived biochemical functions, future prospects for practical application based on the recent progress in metagenomic research are discussed.

Since the approval of antibodies as therapeutic agents more than 20 years ago, a large about of research conducted by pharmaceutical companies and other institutes has been focused on the development of therapeutic antibodies. Antibody-based drugs have higher specificity and are more effective than chemical reagents in depletion of target cells, particularly diseased cells such as tumor cells, viral-infected cells, and other pathogenic cells. However, as compared to synthetic agents, they are generally more expensive and accelerating expansion of budgets on medicine. Hitherto, genetic engineering techniques, especially molecular display technology, have played an important role in the development of various active therapeutic antibodies. To reduce the expenditure associated with the production of these antibodies, the selection of candidate molecules- an upstream process must be optimized for efficiency. This review article summarizes recent representative patents related to therapeutic antibodies and molecular display techniques that have been used for their production.

Since its discovery as a microbial insecticide, Bacillus thuringiensis has been widely used to control insect pests important in agriculture, forestry, and medicine. The wide variety of formulations based on spore-crystal complexes intended for ingestion by target insects, are the result of many years of research. The development of a great variety of matrices for support of the spore-crystal complex enables many improvements, such as an increase in toxic activity, higher palatability to insects, or longer shelf lives. These matrices use many chemical, vegetable or animal compounds to foster contact between crystals and insect midguts, without harming humans or the environment. Biotechnology companies are tasked with the production of these kinds of bioinsecticides. These companies must not only provide formulations tailored to specific crops and the insect pests, but they must also search for and produce bioinsecticides based on new strains of high potency, whether wild or genetically improved. It is expected that new products will appear on the market soon, providing an increased activity spectrum and applicability to many other pestimpacted crops. These products may help develop a more organic agriculture. This review article discusses recent patents related to bioinsecticides.

Production and Application of Bacteriophage and Bacteriophage-Encoded Lysins by Noemie Dorval Courchesne, Albert Parisien, Christopher Lan (37-45).
The widespread resistance to antibiotics among pathogenic bacteria has made development of alternatives to antibiotics a pressing public concern. Extensive studies have established bacteriophages (phages) and phage-encoded lytic enzymes (virolysins) as two of the most promising families of alternative antibacterials for the treatment and prophylaxis of bacterial infections. They have shown great potential in veterinary and human medicine for the treatment and prophylaxis of infections. Technologies have also been patented employing phages and virolysins in other pathogen related applications including detection and decontamination.

Baculovirus Expression Systems for Recombinant Protein Production in Insect Cells by Richard Hitchman, Robert Possee, Linda King (46-54).
Baculoviruses are lethal pathogens of insects, predominantly of the order Lepidoptera. These viruses have a biphasic life cycle, which greatly facilitates their use for biotechnological applications. They were exploited initially as biocontrol agents, and then engineered as protein expression vectors. The baculovirus expression vector system (BEVS) is now widely used for recombinant protein production. More recently they have become a popular choice for development as gene delivery and expression vectors in mammalian cells. This article reviews some of the major developments and patents relating to baculoviruses since their initial use as an expression tool and investigates current technologies alleviating bottlenecks in recombinant gene expression in insect cells.

Development of Sol-Gel Hybrid Materials for Whole Cell Immobilization by Martin Desimone, Gisela Alvarez, Maria Foglia, Luis Diaz (55-60).
The development of a good biocompatible matrix for immobilization of cells is very crucial for improving the performance of functional biohybrids. The synthesis of solid inorganic materials from alkoxide, aqueous and polyolmodified silanes routes, as well as the incorporation of organic polymers, are further areas being developed to improve the viability of encapsulated cells. This emerging field of material science has generated considerable and increasing interest during the past decade. Recent advances in the field involving biomaterials, biohybrids, and functional nanomaterials provided novel materials, which have gained the attention of the scientific community, Governments and industrial companies. Overall, this review is intended to give an overview on the current state of the art of the patents associated to the immobilization of whole living cells in sol-gel derived hybrid materials and to describe the major challenges to be addressed in the forthcoming years.

Membrane Processes and Devices for Separation of Bioactive Peptides by Laurent Bazinet, Loubna Firdaous (61-72).
In recent years, functional foods and nutraceuticals has attracted much attention, particularly for their impact on human health and prevention of certain diseases. Consequently, the production and properties of bioactive peptides has received an increasing scientific interest over the past few years. Considering that most functional peptides are present in complex matrices containing a large number of hydrolyzed protein fractions, their separation and purification are required. Conventional pressure-driven processes can be used for amino acids and peptides separation but are limited by their fouling problems and their low selectivity when separating similar sized biomolecules. To improve the separation efficiency, an external electric field was applied during pressure-driven filtration. However, the pressure gradient brings about the accumulation of peptides at the nearby membrane surface and affects the membrane transport selectivity. Processes combining an electrical field as a driving force to porous membranes have been developed for the separation of biopeptides to obtain better purified products. Compounds of higher molecular weights than the membrane cut-off can be separated. The first trials were carried-out to perform the separation of amino acids and peptides with a filtration module specially designed and using one ultrafiltration membrane. More recently, electrodialysis with ultrafiltration membranes has been developed to fractionate simultaneously acidic and basic peptides, using a conventional electrodialysis cell, in which some ion exchange membranes are replaced by ultrafiltration ones. The perspectives in this field will be the understanding of the interactions of peptides and membrane as well as the development of new membrane materials limitating or increasing these interactions to improve the selectivity and the yield of production of specific peptides. This review article also discusses recent patents related to bioactive peptides.

Patent Selections: by Publishers (73-76).
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