BELTSVILLE, Md.—BioServe will use its Global Repository—which comprises more than 600,000 human DNA, tissue and serum samples linked to detailed clinical and demographic information—to assist the Specialized Clinical Center of Research (SCCOR) conduct a novel study aimed at identifying the genetic cause of thoracic aortic disease. The repository was the key asset of Genomics Collaborative which was recently acquired by BioServe (DDN, June 2007).
BioServe will provide the SCCOR researchers with 800 control samples initially to assist in identifying genes that are predictive of the development and progression of thoracic aortic diseases. The samples will be controlled for age, sex and various lifestyle risk factors that are known to influence the condition, notes BioServe CEO Kevin Krenitsky. "Without these control samples against which to run our diseased case samples we would face the very difficult task of recruiting healthy volunteers to serve as controls," adds Xin Li Wang, a professor and director in the cardiothoracic research laboratory at the Michael E. DeBakey Department of Surgery at Baylor College of Medicine.
Fine mapping studies will be used to discover genetic markers that are predictive of aortic dissection. Despite the fact that thoracic aortic disease is the 15th leading cause of death in the United States, according to SCCOR, with aortic dissections being the 13th leading cause of death in people between the ages of 55 and 64, there is currently no predictive diagnostic procedure for flagging those at high risk. "Today," Krenitsky observes, "the condition is either found serendipitously or when the aorta ruptures. We hope this work will lead to novel predictive diagnostics." BioServe, he adds, plans to be involved in developing these diagnostics "taking us a step closer to a personalized medicine regimen."
Wang adds, "BioServe is an ideal partner for this important study. In addition to their comprehensive data repository, they provide a team that is highly experienced in running large-scale genetic studies. This unique combination of capabilities will enable us to accelerate our research to find genetic markers predictive of the disease."
The SCCOR study is underwritten by a 5-year, $12 million inter-institutional grant from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and is a collaboration among the University of Texas Health Science Center Houston, Baylor College of Medicine and University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston. The program is co-directed by Dr. Joseph Coselli who has performed more than 5,000 aortic surgeries. Dr. Wang notes that surgical diseases are underserved in terms of research dollars, perhaps because relatively few surgeons do research.