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Affymetrix, Avesthagen, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research, NSB Postech, USDA

Avesthagen to Use Affymetrix Microarrays in Parsi Study
Affymetrix said this week that Avesthagen will use its microarrays in a genetic study of the Parsi-Zoroastrian population.
Bangalore, India-based Avesthagen plans to conduct a study, called the AvestaGenome Project, of more than 60,000 Parsi individuals in an effort to reveal the genetic basis of longevity among that population. According to the companies, 31 percent of the Parsi population lives beyond the age of 60 compared to 7 percent nationally in India.
Avesthagen researchers intend to correlate genes with longevity, as well as neurodegenerative conditions, breast cancer, diabetes, and other complex diseases in the Parsi community.
The genotyping phase of the project began in October 2007. By the middle of this year, Avesthagen plans to perform gene-expression profiling and transcript mapping experiments across a subset of samples. The project is scheduled to finish by 2013.
Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Fred Hutchinson, NSB Partner on Protein Microarray Research
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center last week announced that it is collaborating with South Korea-based NSB Postech to study protein microarrays.
The partners are coordinating efforts to determine the efficacy of NSB’s NanoCones surface technology in creating proteomic microarrays, which will be used to study human diseases, the Hutchinson Center said. The collaboration will include a comparison of slides created with NSB’s technology with current industry standard technology.
“We hope this will make our antibody arrays more sensitive and accurate,” Paul Lampe, a member of the Hutchinson Center’s Public Health Sciences Division and associate program head of molecular diagnostics, said in a statement.
NSB will fund the collaboration. Further terms of the alliance were not disclosed.

USDA Scientists Use $3M to Create Soy SNP Library
Researchers with the US Department of Agriculture plan to create a library of 50,000 SNPs from the soybean genome that could be used to develop soybeans with improved yield, greater resistance to pests, and improved protein and oil quality, the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service said late last week.
Scientists at the ARS’ Soybean and Genomics Improvement Research Unit in Beltsville, Md., will be working with $2.9 million in funding from the United Soybean Board.
The researchers will use the SNPs in conjunction with data from the draft of the whole-genome sequencing of the soybean that the US Department of Energy’s Joint Genome Institute completed in January.
The USDA said it is particularly interested in using this data to identify plants carrying traits such as resistance to pests and the production of high-quality oil.
Earlier this month, the agricultural company Monsanto and a Nematode-focused genomics company called Divergence said they had completed a draft of the genome of the soybean cyst nematode.
“This genomics project will greatly aid soybean-breeding efforts,” United Soybean Board Chairman Ike Boudreaux said in a statement. “Ultimately, improved varieties will be available to farmers much faster,” Boudreaux said.
“Our overall goal is to harness the remarkable recent developments in rapid genome analysis to construct a new, highly detailed, high-resolution description of the genetic diversity contained within soybean and its close wild relatives,” ARS administrator Edward Knipling said in the same statement.
Knipling also said that the knowledge the project generates “may serve as a road map for constructing the shortest, most efficient pathways to identifying soybean genes, their functions and their variants.”

The USB also said that the American Soybean Association is supporting the project by lobbying for more federal funding in soybean genomics.