betaine in LA PCR

Paul N Hengen pnh at
Mon Apr 21 10:10:52 EST 1997

brett (brett at BORCIM.WUSTL.EDU) wrote:

| Wholly Smokin' Rip-Off!! Does that patent cover the use of betaine in
| ANY polymerase reaction done in your lab?

> Well, I'm not a lawyer (whew!), but it's my understanding that the use of
> betaine had been previously published by other groups.  I have seen my PI
> wrangling with patent attorneys before, and it seems to me that this patent
> wouldn't hold up, at least in the US. Perhaps someone more acquainted with
> the law could fill us in?

Yes. I think there is enough "prior art" argument to challenge this patent, in
the US anyway. But, I'm also a non-legal type of person, so I can't say for
certain what the legal stuff would entail. I do think though that the assertion
in the Biotechniques paper, "Optimal yield and reliablility of PCR typing was
achieved by introducing betaine, a cosolute whose use in the PCR has not been
described before" is pretty much overstated given that three other papers I
have read (published before) also use betaine in a similar fashion. I wouldn't
be surprised if they did think this though because of the slow turn-around
time (usually > 6 months) for publishing in BioTechniques.

author = "T. Weissensteiner
     and J. S. Lanchbury",
title = "Strategy for Controlling Preferential Amplification
and Avoiding False Negatives in {PCR} Typing",
journal = "BioTechniques",
volume = "21",
number = "6",
pages = "1102-1108",
comment = "use of betaine for PCR; tweissen at",
year = "1996"}

Duncan wrote:

> It's maybe not that bad in that it only covers inclusion of betaine in
> the PCR buffer itself. If it is pacakged separately in it's own vial
> then I take the view that is OK to sell it with a PCR enzyme and the PCR
> buffer. Put it in the PCR buffer and you infringe.

It's probably the wording that "use of betaine in DNA and RNA polymerase
buffers is now covered by a patent" that bothers me, NOT "betaine included
in PCR buffers is patented". They are slightly different and might just
be from language translation (the authors are German). Anyway, I'm willing
to buy some betaine and try it for myself ;-)

* Paul N. Hengen, Ph.D.                           /--------------------------/*
* National Cancer Institute                       |Internet: pnh at |*
* Laboratory of Mathematical Biology              |   Phone: (301) 846-5581  |*
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