Eyes on the Ion

Life Technologies and Boston Children's Hospital to develop optimized lab workflow based on Ion Proton Sequencer

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BOSTON—Boston Children's Hospital, which touts itself as thehome of the world's largest pediatric research enterprise, and Carlsbad,Calif.-based Life Technologies Corp. in late June announced a research anddevelopment collaboration to develop an end-to-end genetic sequencing labworkflow based on Life Technologies' Ion Proton Sequencer.
In this effort, the two parties plan to collaborate on thedevelopment of an optimized laboratory infrastructure and lab protocols for anadvanced sequencing facility that will be built at Boston Children's Hospitalin compliance with CLIA and CAP certification standards.
Dr. Paul Billings, chief medical officer at LifeTechnologies, says the opportunity to partner with Boston Children's Hospitalis exciting because it offers a chance to collaborate with world-renownedexperts in pediatric genetic disease and demonstrate best practices for usingthe Ion Torrent sequencing platform, adding, "Partnerships like these areessential to our medical sciences strategy as we seek to assist researchers indiscovering improved diagnostics and treatments for genetic conditions."
For his part, Dr. David Margulies, director of the GenePartnership Program at Boston Children's Hospital, anticipates that thehospital will benefit from Life Technologies' "leading expertise in DNAsequencing technology and bioinformatics" being added to the clinical research,genomics and informatics expertise of Boston Children's Hospital.
"This collaboration is an important first step towardproviding informed, personalized care for patients whose conditions aredifficult to treat," according to Margulies. "The development of an optimizedlaboratory infrastructure will support our mission of providing thehighest-quality, innovative and cost-effective care to our patients."
The Ion Proton Sequencer is designed to sequence an entirehuman genome in a day for approximately $1,000. Unlike traditionalnext-generation systems, Life Technologies reports, it relies on semiconductorchips to map human exomes and genomes, making it much faster and less expensiveto analyze DNA "at unprecedented throughput levels and generate accuratesequencing data."
The basic Ion Proton System is structured around the sametechnology as its predecessor, the Ion Personal Genome Machine (PGM), which isdesigned for sequencing small genomes or sets of genes. Combined with theAmpliSeq targeted sequencing technology, researchers can sequence panels ofgenes associated with disease on the PGM or exomes and genomes on the IonProton Sequencer in just a few hours, according to Life Technologies.
The news of the Boston Children's Hospital deal followed amere day after an announcement that The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto,Ontario, Canada, had adopted the Ion Proton Sequencer platform as a key meansto launch its new Centre for Genetic Medicine. The pairing with LifeTechnologies in this case was characterized as a "long-term partnership" thatwill focus on sequencing 10,000 genomes per year to "revolutionize" pediatricdisease research in Canada.
The Hospital for Sick Children and Life Technologiesreportedly will collaborate on developing sequencing workflows and protocolsfor the Ion Proton System that are tailored for studies of interest toresearchers in the new center. The first collaborative project will focus onsequencing clinical research samples to better understand the genetics behindautism, with the 10,000 genomes per year effort to study various diseases inchildren being a longer-term goal.
"The perfect storm of unparalleled advances in genomesequencing technology and information science, and a captivated hospital strivingfor new ways to move forward in medical treatment, bring us to this importantday," said Dr. Stephen Scherer, co-director of the Centre for Genetic Medicine,who also leads the Centre for Applied Genomics at The Hospital for SickChildren. "We are very excited to work with Life Technologies to enhance oursequencing capabilities, such that 'genomic surveillance' may soon become thefirst line of investigation in all clinical research studies ongoing at ourinstitution."
"With the help of this new technology, we will be able tofurther deepen our understanding of the genetic basis of human disease andtranslate this directly into daily clinical practice," added Dr. Ronald Cohn,the other co-director of the Centre for Genetic Medicine. "We have finallyreached a point where individualized medicine is not just a theoreticalconcept, but will become an integral part of clinical care and management."

Life Technologies licenses iPSC portfolio to iPS AcademiaJapan
CARLSBAD, Calif.—Life Technologies Corp. also recentlyannounced that it has signed a non-exclusive agreement with iPS Academia Japan(AJ) for its induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) patent portfolio.
Life Technologies said the worldwide license will enable thecompany to expand its range of products and services for the iPSC researchcommunity.
Scientists use iPSC technology to create iPSCs frompatient-derived adult cells. The iPSCs can then be differentiated into manyprimary cell types, such as neurons and hepatocytes, to be studied in the lab.The ability to develop cells from people with particular conditions of interestgives researchers the ability to study the genetics behind patient-specificdiseases in an effort to test or develop new potential treatments.
"Because iPS cells are gaining greater attention for uses indrug discovery and disease research as well as other areas of biotechnology,distribution of iPS cell products or provision of services is important forgaining momentum in iPS cell research," said Shosaku Murayama, president andCEO of AJ. "We believe that Life Technologies' business will contribute toboost research and development for practical application of iPS celltechnology. We hope for further advancement of the iPS cell technology and itspractical use in the coming years, and we continue to support expanding the iPScell technology by licensing our patent portfolio."
AJ is an affiliate of Kyoto University, and its main role isto manage and utilize the patents and other intellectual properties held orcontrolled by Kyoto and other universities. AJ's patent portfolio consists ofmore than 60 patent families in the iPSC technology, and has executed about 50license arrangements with domestic or international enterprises.

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