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Canadian Genomics Lab Midway to Finishing Neurogenetic Microarray

NEW YORK, June 21 - A Canadian neurogenomics lab has begun the second year of a two-year collaboration with local public, private, and academic sectors that seeks to develop microarray tools to help better understand neurodegenerative diseases, according to a lab official.

 

The lab, which belongs to the neurobiology program of the Institute for Biological Sciences, in Ontario, is working with companies GeneFocus and ATS; the Robarts and SIMS institutes; the University of Waterloo; and Precarn, a Canadian organization helping to fund the project, which costs about $1.6 million.

 

The primary focus of the lab is to understand the genetic mechanisms that underlie neurogenesis and neurodegeneration. "We are looking at 20,000 genes at many different time points of neurogenesis to understand how undifferentiated cells become neurons," said Roy Walker, the group's leader.

The collaboration hopes to develop microarray tools over the next year that could be commercialized by the two firms while helping the Canadian lab perform its own research, according to Walker.

"The objective is to bring in people with very different expertise together in order to ... to do something that would be impossible for us to do on our own," he told GenomeWeb in a recent interview.

 

Walker's lab was created about five years ago by the National Research Council of Canada. It has focused on genomics research for the past three of those years.


The group intends to use the new advanced automated tools to analyze its microarray data more efficiently and with high reproductability, he added. Its long-term goals are to understand the genetic mechanisms that underlie neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's.

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