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MHI, AstraZeneca Team on Genetic Analysis of CVD, Diabetes Markers

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – The Montreal Heart Institute and AstraZeneca will sift through tens of thousands of samples to hunt for genetic markers associated with cardiovascular disease and diabetes, MHI announced today.

Hailing this project as one of the largest such screening studies to date, the partners said they hope to advance understanding of the genetic underpinnings of disease and markers associated with treatment response. MHI plans to genotype as many as 80,000 patient tissue and blood samples that AstraZeneca has collected in its biobank. The pharmaceutical giant collected these samples over a dozen years from patients who enrolled in trials investigating its cardiac and diabetes drugs.

Researchers from MHI's Beaulieu-Saucier Pharmacogenomics Centre will initially perform SNP analysis to identify regions of interest associated with disease. Then, they will home in on those areas of the genome with more powerful tools, such as next-generation sequencing, to identify new markers linked to conditions such as heart attack, stroke, diabetic nephropathy or retinopathy, and with treatment response.

"The knowledge gained from genotyping the samples will be applied to the development of new medicines tailored to treat subsets of patients with particular genetic profiles," the collaborators said in a statement.

"We expect to identify genes that are associated with more severe forms of disease, and those that are associated with treatment outcome," Ruth March, VP of personalized healthcare & biomarkers at AstraZeneca, said. "The information will help us to develop new medicines for these conditions and to target them to the patients who respond best using biomarkers and companion diagnostic tests."

AstraZeneca and MHI said they would publish findings from this collaborative effort.