Friday, June 20, 2008

Scary SciFi nanoorganism about to be patented

This was found as the result of rummaging through the back issues (June 23 2007) of New Scientist magazine. An article on nanobacteria tells of what most of us had never heard or read of before. Not surprisingly, there are issued and pending patents, probably with more to come. Maybe a growing practice area of biotech patent lawyers. A few paragraphs:
The Medusa Strain - an unknown life form is hardening your arteries and turning your kidneys to stone. That's if it exists at all - by Bijal Trivedi, New Scientist, 23 June 2007, 38 THEY are minuscule egg-shaped structures mere billionths of a metre across, dwarfed by the tiniest living cell and smaller than many viruses. They have a hard bony shell, replicate like a living organism and are wiped out by antibiotics and radiation, yet seem to lack DNA. Some say they are infectious microbes, possibly even an unknown form of life, able to cause diseases ranging from Alzheimer's to atherosclerosis. Others say they are simply harmless crystals. Welcome to the topsy-turvy world of nanobacteria. Once described as the "cold fusion of microbiology", the very existence of these microbes has been denied or ridiculed by mainstream opinion for nearly a decade and their proponents branded mavericks. Just like cold fusion, though, nanobacteria have refused to go away and now - under the new guise of "calcifying nanoparticles" - they are making a renewed bid for scientific respectability. The stakes are high. If diseases long thought incurable are actually caused by nanobacteria, they could be prevented with vaccines, or treated with antibiotics. A recent patent application is typical: United States Patent Application 20070134814 Methods and compositions for the detection of calcifying nano-particles, identification and quantification of associated proteins thereon, and correlation to disease Abstract Disclosed are methods and compositions for detecting, analyzing and assessing the significance of calcifying nano-particles. The disclosed methods and compositions generally involve detecting one or more proteins present on a calcifying nano-particle. It has been discovered that particular proteins become associated with calcifying nano-particles. This association provides a means for detecting, classifying, analyzing, categorizing, and assessing calcifying nano-particles. Detecting particular proteins while associated with a calcifying nano-particle can be used to indicate the presence and type of calcifying nano-particle, which can be used to indicate the presence of, or disposition to, diseases or conditions. Multiple proteins on a calcifying particle can be detected. The presence or absence of particular proteins and the pattern of the presence and absence of particular proteins can be used to indicate the presence and type of calcifying nano-particle.