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Exiqon, MD Anderson Focus on Breast Cancer



Exiqon announced a partnership with the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center to cooperate on the discovery of microRNA biomarkers related to breast cancer.

The partnership will complement an ongoing breast-cancer study conducted by Exiqon both internally and externally, and is part of the Danish firm's effort to develop a diagnostics business.

Under the collaboration, Copenhagen-based Exiqon will use its locked-nucleic acid nucleotide research products — including microarrays and quantitative PCR assays — to discover microRNA biomarkers in collaboration with MD Anderson's Kleberg Center for Molecular Markers.

The collaboration is specifically focused on identifying miRNA expression signatures associated with the relapse and progression of breast cancer, and Exiqon aims to develop and validate diagnostic tools that could be used to guide patient management.

Gordon Mills, director of the Kleberg Center, says the collaboration is part of MD Anderson's "efforts to change patient treatment" and to develop "microRNA-based molecular marker panels with different industry leaders in the microRNA field."

According to Søren Morgenthaler Echwald, Exiqon's vice president of business development, the partnership with MD Anderson is significant because it will give the company access to "very well characterized" breast cancer tissue samples and will draw on the center's "expertise in the breast cancer area."

Echwald says that the company has already begun breast-cancer miRNA marker discovery work, both in its own lab and through a partnership with researchers at Herlev University Hospital, located outside of Copenhagen.

The company currently has several different diagnostics programs underway. In addition to breast cancer, potential indication areas include ovarian cancer, cancer of unknown primary, colon cancer, and lung cancer.

Justin Petrone

Microarray Notes

Roche NimbleGen and BioDiscovery will combine their 2.1 million-probe arrays and Nexus Copy Number software for use in whole-genome CGH analysis.

The Research Triangle Institute and NHGRI will survey 20 research disciplines to develop standards for genetics, environment, health, and disease for use in genome-wide association studies.

SAS has launched JMP Genomics 3.2, a software tool that provides increased support for expression, exon, copy number, and genotype data from Affymetrix and Illumina products.

Eppendorf Array Technologies will launch an upgraded version of its DualChip GMO Microarray Kit that will enable users to test food, feed, and seed products.


Oxford Gene Technology sued Bioarray Solutions for allegedly infringing three of its patents related to oligo analysis.

Funded Grants

$299,250/FY 2008
dChip: Analysis and Visualization of Oligonucleotide Expression and SNP Arrays
Grantee: Cheng Li, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Began: Apr. 1, 2008; Ends: Feb. 28, 2011
Researchers will use this grant to continue developing the dChip software for analysis and visualization of gene expression and SNP microarray data. They hope to enhance the functionality of dChip to analyze large numbers of arrays and multiple data sets; develop and maintain functions to support other microarray platforms, data formats and software packages; and implement new function modules for new kinds of data.

$434,283/FY 2008
Microarray-Based Scanning of the Mouse Genome
Grantee: Donna Albertson, UCSF
Began: Sep. 30, 1999; Ends: Mar. 31, 2009

Collaborating with the Vancouver British Columbia Genome Center, researchers hope to produce a whole-genome tiling path array of the mouse genome, which they will then use to investigate DNA copy number polymorphisms in different mouse strains. After validating the arrays, they will map the copy number changes, characterize the genomic differences by sequence analysis, and carry out regional functional analysis.

The Scan

LINE-1 Linked to Premature Aging Conditions

Researchers report in Science Translational Medicine that the accumulation of LINE-1 RNA contributes to premature aging conditions and that symptoms can be improved by targeting them.

Team Presents Cattle Genotype-Tissue Expression Atlas

Using RNA sequences representing thousands of cattle samples, researchers looked at relationships between cattle genotype and tissue expression in Nature Genetics.

Researchers Map Recombination in Khoe-San Population

With whole-genome sequences for dozens of individuals from the Nama population, researchers saw in Genome Biology fine-scale recombination patterns that clustered outside of other populations.

Myotonic Dystrophy Repeat Detected in Family Genome Sequencing Analysis

While sequencing individuals from a multi-generation family, researchers identified a myotonic dystrophy type 2-related short tandem repeat in the European Journal of Human Genetics.