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Arizona Plans Biosignatures Laboratory Using $2.2M in Stimulus Funds

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Arizona will spend $2.2 million in federal stimulus funds to develop standards and best practices for accurately identifying biomarkers of patients, with the goal of advancing personalized medicine within the Grand Canyon State.

Gov. Jan Brewer has announced that her administration's Office of Economic Recovery and Science will award part of its funds from the $814 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to Science Foundation Arizona, the nonprofit public-private group that promotes development of the state's biotech and other tech industries. SFAz will fund the effort to create the Arizona Biosignatures Laboratory, whose standards will be designed to accurately identify characteristics of patients likely to respond to targeted therapies.

Tucson-based Critical Path Institute (C-Path) is leading the project, along with Roche's Ventana Medical Systems. Several unnamed "major pharmaceutical companies" have agreed to furnish in-kind support, as required with grants administered by SFAz.

C-Path and Ventana will work under a cooperative research and development agreement with the US Food and Drug Administration, and will collaborate with researchers from numerous institutions — including The Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University, the International Genomics Consortium, the Arizona Cancer Center, University of Arizona Health Sciences Center, and the Translational Genomics Research Institute.

C-Path will conduct four demonstration projects in lung cancer, kidney disease, Alzheimer's disease, and tuberculosis. Arizona envisions the new laboratory as a national resource for biomarker and biosignature standardization.

"Utilizing the many resources that already exist in our state, this cooperative effort has the potential to breed many more Arizona-born success stories in the treatment of cancer and other debilitating diseases," William Harris, SFAz's president and CEO, said in a statement.

Funds for the biosignatures lab come from the stimulus act's State Fiscal Stabilization Fund.