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Paw Print Genetics wins patent suit

A federal judge in Minnesota ruled last week that routine genetic testing for dogs, like that for humans, can’t be patented. The ruling was celebrated by Spokane-based Paw Print Genetics, a laboratory that tests for genetic diseases in dogs.

Paw Print had asked the court to decide on the matter after another lab claimed the Spokane company infringed on its patent. At issue is a genetic test for a disorder called exercise-induced collapse, which both labs offer.

U.S. District Judge John Tunheim found that the patent held by Canine EIC Genetics, of St. Paul, Minnesota, is invalid because it’s “directed at a natural law and because it does not introduce any additional inventive concept beyond well-understood, routine, and conventional methods for determining whether the EIC mutation exists in a dog.” That lab is affiliated with the University of Minnesota.

That follows recent cases before the U.S. Supreme Court evaluating patents on genetic tests for humans. Tunheim noted that the test of whether a genetic mutation is protected by patent laws “is analyzed the same way, irrespective of whether that test is used on humans or dogs.”

Lisa Shaffer, founder and CEO of Paw Print Genetics, said the ruling is “very positive for us.”

PerkinElmer layoffs won’t affect Spokane’s Signature Genomics

Massachusetts biotech firm PerkinElmer announced recently it's laying off 72 workers as part of a restructuring plan. 

The announcement, happily, has no impact on Signature Genomics, the Spokane microarray-based diagnostic company that PerkinElmer acquired in 2010.

Signature's President Lisa Shaffer confirmed by email on Thursday the layoffs will not spread to Spokane.

The recently filed 10Q report from PerkinElmer suggests Spokane's operations are among the company's strongest growth sectors:

The increase in our Human Health segment sales during the six months ended July 3, 2011 was due primarily to increased demand from the adoption of our neonatal and infectious disease screening offerings in the diagnostics market, increased growth in the academic sector for both instruments and reagents in the research market, and continued growth from industrial and veterinary applications in our medical imaging business.