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Eli Lilly Taps SeqWright to Use Roche NimbleGen and 454 Tools in Psychiatric Diseases Study

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Eli Lilly and SeqWright will use Roche NimbleGen arrays and Roche 454 Life Sciences sequencers to study several psychiatric diseases by selective genome sequencing, the firms said last week.

Lilly's goal for the project is to identify genetic variants that are potentially associated with a number of unspecified psychiatric illnesses, the firms said.

As part of the deal, SeqWright, a sequencing service provider based in Houston, will use NimbleGen's sequence-capture arrays and 454's Genome Sequencer FLX to selectively enrich and sequence approximately 40 megabases of the human genome.

Brian Edmonds, a research advisor for global external research and development at Lilly, said in a statement that Lilly has partnered with SeqWright to "better examine the root causes of various psychiatric diseases." He added that if the project "delivers as expected, we hope to identify new biomarkers or novel drug targets for future development of medicines to treat any array of psychiatric illnesses."

SeqWright CEO Fei Lu said this week that Lilly is one of an increasing number of pharma customers that have specifically requested sequence capture and sequencing services from the firm.

"These technologies have been on the market for a couple years now, and there is definitely more interest" from pharmas and biotechs in using sequence capture and next-generation sequencing, Lu told BioArray News this week.

Still, she said most of SeqWright's targeted sequencing customers tend to be academics. "More customers are in academia than from biotechs and pharma," she said. "Academia is adopting new technologies faster, and usually pharmas and biotechs want to see the results academics obtain and what papers come out before they adopt a new technology," she said.

SeqWright has taken part in other clinical projects that involve the NimbleGen and 454 platforms. In June, the firm said it was collaborating with Roche Applied Science and the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine to study genetic variants associated with dilated cardiomyopathy by sequencing 180,000 exons from samples of patients.

SeqWright began offering Roche NimbleGen sequence capture services earlier this year. Lu said that for the Lilly project, SeqWright will work with its latest pharma customer "from design to complete data analysis."

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