Banking on personalized medicine

Life Technologies and the Integrated Biobank of Luxembourg to sequence biospecimen samples for advancement of disease research

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LUXEMBOURG—The Integrated Biobank of Luxembourg (IBBL) and Life Technologies Corp. announced in March a strategic partnership aimed at advancing the field of personalized medicine to help in learning about the genetic causes of disease.
The IBBL is an independent, non-profit biobanking and biotechnology foundation designed to support investigators worldwide in a new era of research and the next generation of healthcare.

In partnership with the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), a biomedical start-up in Arizona, Luxembourg's leading public research and academic centers developed the IBBL to accelerate medical research in personalized medicine with a focus on developing new diagnostic biomarkers.  

Personalized medicine, according to Dominic Allen, COO of the IBBL, is a paradigm shift in the treatment of disease. Personalized medicine takes into account factors unique to each individual under treatment—factors such as metabolism and genetic composition, Allen adds.

"Medicine traditionally has been the application of treatments as defined by the disease," Allen explains. "In personalized medicine, we make treatment not only a function of the disease, but of the individual."

To further this new practice, IBBL partners with companies such as Life Technologies to provide expertise in technologies to analyze the banked tissues samples. The IBBL was founded, according to Allen, to both become a state-of-the-art biobank, as well as support research with carefully selected partners.

"We supply samples and data of various natures, which provides an infrastructure from which our research partners, such as Life Technologies, can conduct its work in their areas of expertise, such as sequencing," Allen adds.

IBBL currently conducts sequencing analysis, and distributes a wide variety of the high-quality biospecimen samples while ensuring the strictest confidentiality and protection of donors' data. IBBL has the technology and expertise to provide valuable genetic and molecular information in addition to medical records and environmental factors related to the donor.

From Life Technologies, the IBBL will adopt that company's Applied Biosystems SOLiD System, which Life Technologies calls 'the most accurate next-generation sequencing platform available today," to sequence the IBBL's extensive variety of samples.

This work could result in greater understanding of the genetic basis for many diseases, and could have application in various areas such as disease-based research and in the future, sequencing for clinical diagnoses.

"We're pleased to become the sequencing technology partner to IBBL," said Mark Stevenson, president and chief operating officer of Life Technologies, in a prepared statement. "Our SOLiD system is the perfect technology to be used for sequencing IBBL's well characterized samples, and we look forward to working with them to advance their goal of being a leader in the advancement of personalized medicine."

"By partnering with Life Technologies, IBBL is gaining access to cutting-edge sequencing technology, an important step to building an advanced technology infrastructure and a successful biomedical research industry in Luxembourg," says Dr. Jean-Claude Schmit, president of IBBL. "Working hand-in-hand with one of the leading companies in the field and contributing to new developments will allow IBBL to have early access to constantly evolving technologies and to offer the highest quality genetic data to our research collaborators."

IBBL's Allen describes the pact as a partnership agreement, and not as a contract per se.
"This is a partnership agreement on a combination of things, not as a 'deliverables' contact," Allen comments. "We have a commitment to working together."
He says part of that combination includes upgrades to equipment and publishing of research papers over time.

Life Technologies representatives did not comment on the relationship by press time.
During an official visit to TGen by His Royal Highness Prince Guillaume, Hereditary Grand Duke of Luxembourg and Jeannot KreckÈ, Luxembourg's Minister for the Economy and Foreign Trade, the Life Technologies agreement was sealed on March 23 in Arizona.

Co-founded in 2008 by Luxembourg's three public research centers and the university, and developed in partnership with TGen, IBBL is part of a major strategic effort initiated by the government of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg to help the country develop cutting-edge skills and expertise in molecular medicine. Its new facility opened on Feb. 25.

Life Technologies Teams with Gen-Probe to offer aneuploidy kits

CARLSBAD, Calif.—Life Technologies Corp. also recently announced a partnership with Gen-Probe Life Sciences Ltd. to commercialize Gen-Probe's Elucigene QST*R Aneuploidy Kits under the Applied Biosystems brand in Eastern Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, Latin America and Canada. The kits will not be available for sale in the United States.

The kits are labeled for use in diagnostics and work in conjunction with the Applied Biosystems industry-leading line of capillary electrophoresis (CE) systems, including the new 3500 Series Genetic Analyzer. Initial sales of the Applied Biosystems branded kits are anticipated to begin mid-year 2010.

Dr. Andy Felton, director of Life Technologies' genetic systems division, says the collaboration will provide diagnostic labs with specialized kits for the rapid and unambiguous analysis of the most common viable human aneuploidies or chromosomal abnormalities, including Down syndrome.

"By working with Gen-Probe Life Sciences, we take another important step toward our continued commitment to deliver high value diagnostic assays for use in the clinic. This agreement exemplifies Life Technologies' dedication to deliver easy to use, highly accurate applications on our CE sequencing systems," Felton says.

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