Fremont, CA (Scicasts) - WaferGen Biosystems, a developer of genetic analysis systems, has unveiled that Ghent University (UGent) in Belgium has signed a research collaboration and is an early-access customer for the WaferGen SmartChip Real-Time PCR System.
Under the terms of the collaboration, UGent will be part of WaferGen's early-access SmartChip program with shipment occurring in the first quarter 2010. UGent is working to validate a biomarker signature for childhood cancer neuroblastoma to aid in detection and therapy. They will also utilize the SmartChip Human microRNA gene panel to evaluate various disease states; develop new applications for the SmartChip platform; and collaborate on developing and evaluating software for real-time PCR data analysis.
"This collaboration represents growing recognition of our SmartChip Real-Time PCR System as a valuable gene analysis tool that will ultimately lead to more affordable targeted therapies," said Alnoor Shivji, WaferGen's chairman and chief executive officer. "We welcome Ghent University as our fifth top-tier research collaborator, and look forward to working with them to advance the use of the SmartChip platform in the area of childhood cancer and various other disease states."
"We are eager to integrate the high throughput quantitative benefits of SmartChip real-time PCR into our functional genomics research programs," said Professor Jo Vandesompele, the lead investigator, who is a professor in functional cancer genomics and applied bio-informatics at Ghent University, CEO of Biogazelle and a leading expert and pioneer in the domain of real-time PCR. "Using the SmartChip platform, we believe we can study thousands of genes simultaneously to identify novel gene signatures or run multiple samples on a single chip to validate the signature of interest. This should enable greater accuracy for discovery of biomarkers and decreased time to results. We have identified several projects where we believe that the SmartChip will help us advance our biomarker research. What we have lacked is a platform that can give us the flexibility to be used for discovery and validation with real-time PCR performance."
WaferGen and UGent scientists believe that the research conducted as part of this collaboration may lead to the successful validation of a prognostic gene signature for neuroblastoma, a form of childhood cancer with widely variable clinical course. By measuring a signature on the SmartChip platform, scientists could provide physicians with new tools for earlier discovery or help with selection of appropriate treatments.
Professor Vandesompele and his team will also utilize the SmartChip Human microRNA Panel to evaluate various disease states. MicroRNAs are small non-protein-coding single-stranded RNA molecules of 21-23 nucleotides in length that function as negative regulators of gene expression by targeting specific messenger RNAs. This either inhibits translation or promotes messenger RNA degradation. Cancer diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment are important potential clinical applications of microRNA profiling. The new Human microRNA expression profiling service will use the human genes from the new miRBase version 14.0 sequence database, providing researchers with the latest, up-to-date-sequences. The SmartChip Human microRNA Panel provides the most comprehensive panel of over 800 microRNAs on a single SmartChip to enable discovery of disease specific microRNAs.