NEW YORK, Oct. 19 – Newfound Genomics, a joint venture between Gemini Genomics and Lineage Biomedical, has completed its first clinical collection of disease-specific genetic samples in Newfoundland and is expanding its efforts to find the genetic links to disease through collection and analysis of this population's gene samples, Gemini announced today.
This first collection includes several hundred genetic samples of Newfoundland families with type II (adult-onset) diabetes and obesity, said Patrick Kleyn, Chief Scientific Officer of Gemini.
To oversee further collection and analysis of these samples, Dr. Proton Rahman of Newfoundland has just been appointed chief scientific officer of Newfound Genomics , and plans to initially hire 10 to 20 staff members to set up its initial laboratory, Kleyn said.
The Newfoundland project comprises part of Gemini’s effort to collect data from a “portfolio” of diverse human populations with specific diseases, from broad European and American groups to twin samples and isolated, genetically homogeneous populations such the population of Newfoundland, Kleyn explained.
This “portfolio” strategy differs from that of rival clinical genomics company DeCode, which only collects genetic information from the population of Iceland, or that of DNA sciences, which is attempting to collect genetic samples from the American population over its website.
“We collect DNA and clinical data across many populations, because there’s no panacea for gene discovery,” said Kleyn. “Isolated populations are powerful for finding genes, but from a pharmaceutical perspective, you need to translate them to see whether they are relevant in the general population.”
While DeCode has legally acquired access to Iceland’s health records to complement the genetic samples it collects, Gemini rejects that approach as unethical in the case of Newfoundland, Kleyn said.
One further difference, Kleyn said, is that unlike its competitors Gemini does not plan to sell its databases or partner with pharma for early-stage research. Instead it plans to analyze this data, do its own drug target validation, and license resulting diagnostic tools or drug products to pharma companies.
Gemini uses Affymetrix chips and PerkinElmer genetic screening products in its labs, but built its own bioinformatics system over the past five years to compile and store these clinical collections, Kleyn said.