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Lilly Taps SeqWright, Roche for Psychiatric Studies


Eli Lilly and Seq-Wright will use Roche NimbleGen arrays and Roche 454 Life Sciences sequencers to study several psychiatric diseases by selective genome sequencing, the firms recently announced.
Lilly's goal for the project is to identify genetic variants that are potentially associated with a number of unspecified psychiatric illnesses, the companies say.

As part of the deal, Seq-Wright, 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 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 says 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 says.

Still, she says, most of SeqWright's targeted sequencing customers tend to be academics. "More customers are in academia than from biotechs and pharma," she says. "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 says.

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

— Justin Petrone


21 Million
The 1,000 Genomes project found around 21 million SNPs after sequencing 178 HapMap individuals from four populations at low coverage.

Microarray Notes

Dortmund, Germany-based protein biochip maker Protagen will use €3.7 million in funding to develop serum-based molecular diagnostic tests for early detection of multiple sclerosis and to aid in the differential diagnosis of prostate cancer.

Albuquerque, NM-based Life Bioscience has launched Oracle 3D glass nanowell microarray substrates, which are targeted toward customers who use protein arrays for research, in drug -discovery, and, potentially, in the clinic.

Panagene, based in Daejeon, Korea, has launched a PANArray microRNA expression-profiling kit for surveying stem cell-related micro-RNAs. The launch follows the debut of a kit for profiling cancer-related microRNAs.

Funded Grants

$480,013/FY 2009
Chemistry to Improve Human Genomic Array Analysis Architectures
Grantee: Steven Benner, Foundation For Applied Molecular Evolution
Began: May 1, 2008; Ends: Apr. 30, 2011
Applying an artificially expanded genetic information system, a self-avoiding molecular recognition system, and novel DNA polymerases and reverse transcriptases, Benner will create inkjet DNA arrays to benchmark performance with respect to rates of hybridization, sensitivity, selectivity, and uniformity of response.

$320,704/FY 2009
Electrochemical arrays for the detection of small molecule drugs
Grantee: Kevin Plaxco, University of California, Santa Barbara
Began: Apr. 1, 2008; Ends: Mar. 31, 2012
Plaxco will develop a "reagentless, electrochemical method" that can monitor a panel of small-molecule analytes in blood and other complex media. The electro-chemical, aptamer-based platform "utilizes electrochemistry to monitor the target-induced folding of an electrode-bound aptamer."

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