The ‘father of microarrays’ attacks Parkinson’s

Arrayit and the Parkinson's Institute announce new research collaboration

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SUNNYVALE, Calif.—Dr. Mark Schena, who along with Ron Davis authored the first published paper on DNA microarrays (Science, 1995), has led his company, Arrayit Corp., into a research partnership with The Parkinson's Institute to discover biomarkers for Parkinson's disease. The unique study involves the prospective collection and analysis of samples from well-characterized Parkinson's patients using Arrayit's new H25K microarray technology.

"The Parkinson's Institute is the preeminent research institution in the field with vast clinical knowledge," Schena, who is president of Arrayit, states. "Coupled with our microarray technology, we see a unique opportunity to work together in a highly synergistic way."

Experiments already underway have enabled rapid and efficient sample preparation of specimens from Parkinson's disease patients, an important step in the discovery of molecular markers for the disease.

Arrayit will utilize a two-pronged approach to elucidating the mechanism of action and perhaps finding a cure for the enigma that is Parkinson's. The exact genetic and biochemical mechanism of Parkinson's is not understood, Schena notes.

"This collaboration provides an important first step towards unraveling the mysteries of Parkinson's disease," he states.

First, Arrayit's H25K whole human genome microarray will be used to study 25,509 genes, including up to 5,000 that are not identifiable with competing platforms. According to Arrayit, H25K is the world's first human genome microarray based on a completely sequenced human genome and derived from a fully annotated set of 25,509 human genes. This "next-generation" microarray represents a significant advance over
competing products consisting of collections of expressed sequences tags (ESTs) from poorly annotated sequence databases.

H25K is a multi-purpose microarray containing 26,304 long oligonucleotides designed to maximize studies of the entire human genome in a single biochemical reaction. Researchers can utilize samples prepared from genomic DNA, mRNA and protein to study problems ranging from karyotyping and gene expression profiling to chromatin structure and protein-DNA interactions. For gene expression users, this one spot-one gene design allows the quantitative measurement of 300,000 human transcripts in a single hybridization reaction. The platform's advanced bioinformatics, oligonucleotide manufacturing, microarray printing and surface chemistry provide streamlined data analysis and mining. The 25K microarray contains a single set of gene-specific identifiers capable of examining the entire human genome and is said to be the only whole human genome chip in the world to provide this capability.

Also employed in what Schena describes as a "one-two punch" will be the company's PlasmaScan 80 microarray, a library of monoclonal antibodies raised against native human plasma proteins, which will facilitate identification of low abundance protein markers in blood of Parkinson's patients versus normal individuals.  The Parkinson's Institute, Schena notes, has a rich archive of almost every human tissue but the initial source used in the study will be blood.

Used together, the two Arrayit platforms will identify mRNA and protein molecules and how they are differentially expressed in Parkinson's versus normal subjects.

Ultimately, Arrayit will offer genetic and physiological tests for Parkinson's. And Schena intimates that the technology could go well beyond application to a single disease.

"Parkinson's," he says, "is a road map for elucidating all human disease." Asked about a timeline, he demurs, but then adds, "We expect to have a major announcement soon."

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