Transoceanic translational collaboration

Applied Bio's sequencing technology to be used by Australian university to accelerate pancreatic and ovarian cancer research

Jeffrey Bouley
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CARLSBAD, Calif.—In another step toward advancing translational research and personalized medicine, Life Technologies Corp. and the University of Queensland's Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB) announced in late July a strategic scientific research collaboration to study pancreatic and ovarian cancer in Australia.

"Life Technologies is committed to working with institutions around the world to help deliver upon the potential of translational research," says Mark Stevenson, president and chief operating officer of Life Technologies. "We believe that our collaboration with the University of Queensland's Institute for Molecular Bioscience will enable the application of scientific discoveries into clinical outcomes such as new diagnostics and treatments, accelerating the promise of personalized medicine."

The other institutions to which Stevenson refers include the Baylor College of Medicine Human Genome Sequencing Center in Texas, and the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) in Arizona, notes Lauren Lum, senior public relations manager with Life Technologies.

"Baylor is using our technology for their part in the 1000 Genomes Project, as well as other resequencing projects," Lum reports, "and we signed a collaboration agreement earlier this year with Translational Genomics Research Institute."

That deal with TGen was struck in March, and it seeks to use the SOLiD 3 System—an advanced sequencing technology from Applied Biosystems, part of Life Technologies—to sequence DNA from thousands of patients with a variety of diseases, in an effort to translate scientific discoveries at the genetic level "into knowledge about the underlying causes of disease that may ultimately be used to create cutting-edge tools for use in clinical diagnosis."

"This strategic alliance will accelerate genomic discoveries by integrating relevant scientific findings into the clinical setting," Stevenson said in March about the TGen deal. "The SOLiD System will help this team of scientists and other researchers and clinicians interpret how genetic variation can improve the ability to create more effective therapeutic solutions, bringing personalized medicine one step closer to mainstream application."

The latest deal with University of Queensland's IMB is more tightly focused in terms of disease targets, Stevenson notes, but along the same strategic track. He calls the university's work, in which SOLiD 3 will play such a major role, a "landmark study." As Life Technologies noted in the news release about that deal, that research specifically involves the genomic analysis of pancreatic and ovarian tumors to advance translational research and ultimately use genomic information to potentially develop therapeutic solutions for these diseases, which kill more than 3,000 people each year in Australia alone.

Through this collaboration, IMB is scaling its use of the SOLiD System by acquiring nine new systems for a total of 11 instruments. The IMB is deploying SOLiD technology for its participation in the International Cancer Genome Consortium (ICGC), an international effort among 11 countries and funding agencies to perform comprehensive analyses of the genomic changes underlying eight types of cancer. The SOLiD System will be used by IMB to study 500 pancreatic and ovarian tumors and will compare the genomic information with that of normal tissue samples.

The SOLiD System will enable the IMB scientists to systematically sequence and map genetic changes that occur in each of these cancers and help provide the foundation for identifying new therapies, diagnostics and preventive strategies.

"The SOLiD System will enable us to conduct complete genomic surveys of cancerous tumors and better understand the factors, including structural variants and single nucleotide polymorphisms, which are promoting uncontrolled growth within the tumor," says Dr. Sean Grimmond, group leader in IMB's genomics and computational group. "By discovering the genes that are the key suspects in driving a cancer, we can begin to develop targeted drug therapies."

Applied Biosystems will not only provide on-site instrument service and support for the SOLiD 3 systems but will also actively provide bioinformatics analytical support to better elucidate the amount, kind, and specific location of genetic variations within the tumors. However, Life Technologies is not currently disclosing the precise nature of that bioinformatics support, Lum says.

Jeffrey Bouley

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