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DNAPrint Genomics Forges Ahead in Effort to Promote Personalized Medicine

NEW YORK, April 18 – Population genetics company DNAPrint Genomics said Wednesday it was hoping to gather patient data and blood samples from more than 1,000 people this year following a recent set of deals with collection centers.

“In 2001 we are looking to collect over 1,000 samples and the number could go up to several thousand with more centers,” said Tony Frudakis, CEO of DNA Print Genomics of Sarasota, Fla. 

“This is not an Internet campaign – we’re gathering detailed information about the drugs people are taking and the drugs they’ve taken for the last five to 10 years and we can match up metabolic data with a particular drug set,” he said.

On Wednesday, DNAPrint Genomics announced that the Manatee Community Blood Center of Bradenton, Fla., and the Naples Women's Center in Naples, Fla., had agreed to serve as hubs to attract blood donors as part of the company’s effort to match clinical and biographical data with the impact of certain drugs.

By doing this, DNAPrint Genomics, which now has five participating centers covering 10 separate medical and diagnostic facilities in Florida, hopes to develop prognostics and diagnostics that can be used to advance personalized medicine. Last October, Orchid BioSciences purchased an option for the first rights to co-develop and co-commercialize DNAPrint Genomics’ SNP-disease associations into diagnostic tools. DNAPrint Genomics uses Orchid’s SNPstream system for analyzing up to 25,000 SNPs a day. 

Frudakis said the doctors and elderly population in Florida had so far been enthusiastic about helping DNAPrint Genomics in their efforts to collect data.

“We’re having no problems collecting samples,” Frudakis said. “The physicians have been helpful in explaining this to their patients and the patients love helping companies like ours because they are disgruntled in a way with the pharmaceutical industry and the side effects they have had with different medications.”

One group of drugs DNAPrint Genomics is currently investigating is statins. The anti-cholesterol drug Lipitor, which belongs to this class of drugs, requires users to visit a doctor once a week to make sure they aren’t experiencing side effects, such as liver damage. 

In addition to ramping up its number of samples, Frudakis said that the company, which is expected to grow to 15 people in the next one to two months, is currently focused on developing algorithms that would help to draw links between phenotypic information and particular reactions to drugs. He noted that two-thirds of his staff was made up of mathematicians and statisticians.

“We see the analysis of the data as a bottleneck and we are investing heavily in the development of pattern detection algorithms,” he said.

The company has also “virtually closed” a $1 million to $2 million round of private financing, although Frudakis said that they had to scale back their plans to raise $5 million to $7 million due to poor market conditions. He said the $1 million to $2 million would carry the company through the next two quarters, at which time the company will look to raise additional money.

The company trades over the counter on the Nasdaq exchange.