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Emory University, Ohio State University, NIH, Abbott, Oncomethylome, Clinical Data, Genetrack Biolabs’ Genebase, Genesis Genomics

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Emory, Ohio State Launch Personalized Medicine Partnership
 
Emory University and Ohio State University are combining their biomedical and biotechnology resources to launch a personalized medicine partnership focusing on genomics, clinical trials, bioinformatics, technology transfer, and environmental and behavioral research, Emory said this week.
 
The initiative, called the Alliance for Predictive and Personalized Health, is aimed at “transforming health care into a more patient-centered system that integrates scientific breakthroughs in genomics and molecular biology with advances in communications and information technology,” the universities said in a statement.
 
The effort builds on several initiatives already underway at the two institutes.
 
In 2005, Emory teamed with Georgia Tech to start a Predictive Health Institute that focuses on genetic and protein biomarkers and a Center for Health Discovery and Well-Being that serves as "a clinical testing ground" for predictive medicine and translational research. The same year, Ohio State started its Center for Personalized Health Care, which combines bioinformatics, genomics, imaging and clinical trials.
 
Under the auspices of the Alliance for Predictive and Personalized Health, the universities plan to partner in biomarker research, biobanking, cancer genetics, autoimmune imaging, and other medical areas.
 
The schools also plan to conduct clinical trials and study phenotyping and biomarkers, as well as the legal issues, and the education and training involved in personalized medicine.
 

 
NIH Seeks New Technologies, Computational Tools for Human Microbiome Project
 
The National Institutes of Health has issued several new funding opportunities aimed at developing technologies for studying the genomes of microbial communities that inhabit the human body.
 
Last week, NIH issued five requests for applications related to the Human Microbiome Project, which aims to understand the genomics of human microbiota and analyze its role in human health and disease.
 
The RFAs follow NIH’s announcement earlier this month that it plans to award up to $28 million over four years to demonstration projects under the Human Microbiome Project initiative.
 

 
Oncomethylome to Test Methylation Biomarkers on Abbott's Samples
 
The drug developer Abbott has tapped Oncomethylome to profile tumors for its cancer drug research efforts, Oncomethylome said this week.
 
Oncomethylome will use its high-throughput DNA methylation platform to test its biomarkers on biological samples provided by Abbott, the company said.
 
Financial terms of the agreement were not released.
 

 
Clinical Data Starts Safety Study for PGx Drug Vilazodone
 
Clinical Data said this week it has initiated a long-term safety study for its depression treatment Vilazodone.
 
The company said the safety study will support a new drug application it expects to file with the US Food and Drug Administration in 2009. The study will test the long-term safety and tolerability of Vilazodone and will enroll patients at 40 sites in the US.
 
Clinical Data is developing a pharmacogenetic test that would be used to determine the chances of Vilazodone working for a particular patient.
 
Company CEO Drew Fromkin said the genetic test for Vilazodone will “help clinicians more quickly and confidently identify patients who are likely to respond, leading to improvements in patient care and outcomes.”
 
In addition to the safety study, Clinical Data said it is planning a second Phase III trial that will continue to evaluate genetic biomarkers of Vilazodone response that it identified in a previous trial, which met its primary and supportive secondary endpoints for efficacy of Vilazodone in the treatment of major depressive disorders.
 

 
Genotype-Based Social Networking Product Hits Canadian Retailers
 
Genebase, a division of the Canadian DNA testing company Genetrack Biolabs, is blending DNA-based ancestry analysis with social networking through a new web-based personal genomics project aimed at linking people through their genes and genealogies.
 
Vancouver, B.C.-based Genebase has inked a deal with retailers Best Buy and Bay to sell the DNA Ancestry Project, which uses a mailed-in swab DNA sample, to customers in Canada. That DNA profile is used to build a personal web page on the GeneBase BioNet site, on which users can chat, form groups, blog, post photos, and share information about family trees and genetic history.
 
The company did not say what the suggested retail price is for the DNA test, but the DNA Ancestry service it describes on its website costs between CAN$140 (US$137.75) and CAN$370.
 

 
Genesis Genomics Pockets $306K From Canadian Gov’t to Develop Cancer Dx
 
Genesis Genomics has received a CAN$311,735 (US$ 305,540) investment from the Ontario provincial government to fund its mitochondrial DNA-based diagnostic tests for cancer, the firm’s controller, Carole McCollum, told Pharmcogenomics Reporter sister publication GenomeWeb Daily News last week.
 
The Thunder Bay, Ontario-based company will use the funds from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund to continue to develop and commercialize a diagnostic test for prostate cancer and to develop an early-stage breast cancer test, McCollum said.
 
Last month, Genesis Genomics was awarded part of a CAN$465,000 Natural Science and Engineering grant to work with Genoma and two Canadian universities to develop and sell a handheld device that would rapidly identify a species based on its DNA sequences.

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