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Expression Analysis Launches GWAS Service

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Expression Analysis recently launched a new genome-wide association studies service that it expects will help expand its customer base among pharmaceutical companies and academic researchers, and ultimately build up a business for the Helicos next-generation sequencing instrument that it purchased in March.

President and CEO Steve McPhail says that Expression Analysis will offer customers a choice of microarray platform — the company is a certified Illumina and Affymetrix service provider — for genome-wide association studies, and will give them the ability to move their studies into the sequencing arena as they narrow their focus to specific regions within the genome.

"We are platform agnostic," he says. "We think that all array platforms have their strengths and so we don't promote one platform over any other."

Later this year, Expression Analysis expects to begin offering a sequencing service on the Helicos Biosciences' Genetic Analysis System — an additional capability that McPhail says could make the firm an attractive partner for the kinds of customers it is trying to reach.

"What we see in most genome-wide association studies is that clients are defining regions of interest using large array capabilities," McPhail says. "We do think that sequencing represents a perfect fit for follow-up studies to genome-wide association studies. [It's a] perfect opportunity for our clients to get into fine-level mapping in terms of those specific regions identified in genome-wide association studies."

Expression Analysis has actually been performing genome-wide association studies for its pharmaceutical clients for several years. However, McPhail says that these clients have been "moving away from disease-association studies and more to drug-response-association studies." Now, he says, Expression Analysis has an opportunity to channel its experience into reaching more academic customers with its services.

Justin Petrone

Microarray Notes

The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia genotyped 4,500 individuals from around 900 families with autism spectrum disorders, and plans to make the data available through the Autism Genetic Resource Exchange.

Heidelberg, Germany-based Febit Biotech launched RT-Analyzer, a less expensive benchtop version of its Geniom One platform. The company hopes this will expand its installed base among array users.

Avesthagen will use Affymetrix's micro-arrays to conduct its AvestaGenome Project, a study of the genetic basis of longevity in more than 60,000 Parsi-Zoroastrian individuals. It plans to perform gene-expression profiling and transcript mapping.

Datapoint

50 thousand
USDA researchers will make a library of 50,000 SNPs from the soybean genome to develop soybeans with better yield, resistance to pests, and protein and oil quality.

Funded Grants

$359,270/FY 2007
Design and Analysis of Multi-Staged Association Studies Using Pooled Genomic DNA
Grantee: Dietrich Stephan, Translational Genomics Research Institute
Began: June 15, 2006; Ends: May 31, 2009
The aim of this study is to use pooled genomic data to develop Web-based content and software tools for genome-wide, case-control SNP association studies. Using datasets from multiple genome-wide association studies on pooled genomic DNA, researchers will develop and implement study design strategies, quality control metrics, and automated analysis of the results from such studies.

$546,395/FY 2007
Microarray Data Standards and Supporting Applications
Grantee: Catherine Ball, Stanford University
Began: Aug. 23, 2005; Ends: July 31, 2008
This grant will fund the improvement of existing tools and resources for the microarray functional genomics community via a collaborative effort. The Microarray Gene Expression Data Society will use the allowance to improve existing databases and data analysis toolsets, including MIAME, MAGE-ML, MAGE-stk, and the MGED Ontology.

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