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BGI, Hummingbird Diagnostics to Develop miRNA Tests for Neurodegenerative Disorders

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – BGI of China and Hummingbird Diagnostics of Germany have signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on miRNA-based molecular diagnostic applications using next-generation sequencing technology, in particular in the areas of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.

Under the agreement, the partners will use Hummingbird's miRNA database and expertise in sample preparation as well as BGI's BGISEQ sequencer and analysis pipeline to develop targeted miRNA in vitro diagnostic assays for Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and other diseases. In addition, the firms will collaborate in the areas of wellness, fitness, and aging.

According to Andreas Keller, professor of clinical bioinformatics at Saarland University and cofounder and chief scientific advisor of Hummingbird, working with BGI "offers the unique opportunity to translate our miRNA research findings faster into personalized medicine, in the interest of patient care and human health management."

Keller's team published a study in Clinical Epigenetics in 2016 in which they tested the BGISEQ-500 for microRNA sequencing and compared its performance with microarrays and an Illumina sequencing platform.

Also, last month, Hummingbird and Saarland University announced a collaboration to validate blood-based microRNAs as biomarkers for the early detection of pulmonary and neurodegenerative diseases.

In addition, Keller's group is collaborating with Curetis subsidiary Ares to further develop the Genetic Antibiotic Resistance and Susceptibility (GEAR) database. In September, Curetis announced a partnership with BGI subsidiary MGI Tech to develop in vitro diagnostics for microbial infections, which will involve the GEAR database.