Research Effort Includes Development and Application of PulmoSmartChip - A
Custom Molecular Phenotyping Assay for Lung Disease
FREMONT, Calif., Oct. 30 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- WaferGen Biosystems, Inc. (OTC Bulletin Board: WGBS), a leading developer of state-of-the-art gene expression, genotyping, cell biology and stem cell research systems, today announced that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded a team of researchers at University of Pittsburgh an approximately $3 million grant to conduct novel gene expression research in the area of lung disease involving WaferGen's SmartChip(TM) Real-Time PCR System. This research team, led by Naftali Kaminski, M.D., Steven Shapiro, M.D., and Frank Sciurba, M.D., will apply gene expression profiling to lung samples from patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). The researchers' goal is to identify and validate disease relevant gene expression signatures and microenvironments, while also generating relevant module maps of COPD and IPF that will help to characterize the diseases and their underlying causes. WaferGen's SmartChip platform will be used to validate the researcher's gene expression findings in the area of lung disease.
Additionally, this NIH-funded research will include the development and application of the PulmoSmartChip, a custom designed SmartChip molecular phenotyping assay for COPD and IPF. The PulmoSmartChip, which will include the lowest number of genes that distinguish all phenotypes of IPF and COPD, will be used to identify and validate module networks capable of predicting the natural history of the diseases and patients' response to specific therapeutics. Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh believe that the availability of these modules, as well as the validated PulmoSmartChip assay that allows their measurement using parallel quantitative real-time PCR, will be a significant step in laying the foundations for the introduction of personalized medicine approaches in pulmonary medicine.
"The decision by the NIH to fund this important gene expression research at the University of Pittsburgh represents a critical step for WaferGen and our SmartChip platform. We are pleased by the decision made by our collaborators at the University of Pittsburgh to involve the SmartChip Real- Time PCR System in novel gene expression research projects," stated Alnoor Shivji, WaferGen's chairman and chief executive officer. "The work related to the development and use of the PulmoSmartChip is particularly exciting as it will seek to demonstrate the inherent power of the SmartChip system in creating and utilizing custom disease-specific gene expression assays. We anticipate that this cutting-edge functionality, which we believe is reproducible and applicable across all disease areas, will position the SmartChip system as the platform of choice for discovery and validation of biomarkers."
The University of Pittsburgh is the first research institution to have access to WaferGen's SmartChip Real-Time PCR System. This group is a key partner for WaferGen as it oversees leading clinical and research programs in all major lung diseases including COPD, IPF and asthma. These represent just a few of the important disease indications for which the SmartChip Real-Time PCR system can enable critical gene expression research.
About the SmartChip Real-Time PCR System
The SmartChip Real-Time PCR System(TM) is designed as the first whole genome, high-throughput gene expression real-time PCR platform. This innovative system, combined with next-generation chemistry and optimized assays being developed by WaferGen, promises to deliver significant speed and cost advantages to researchers in the gene expression and genotyping markets. Based on collaborations established with leading research institutions, WaferGen believes that the SmartChip Real-Time PCR System is positioned as the platform of choice for biomarker discovery and validation. It is estimated that the genetic analysis market alone (comprised of gene expression and genotyping analysis) had approximately $2.4 billion in worldwide revenues in 2006 ($1.74 billion for gene expression and $650 million for genotyping). Total global revenue for this market is estimated to reach approximately $5.0 billion by 2012.
WaferGen believes the SmartChip Real-Time PCR System will be the first platform to combine the high-throughput capability and cost efficiencies of existing microarrays, with the sensitivity and accuracy of real-time PCR. Specifically, the SmartChip Real-Time PCR System's high density, rapid cycling configuration is expected to provide industry-leading throughput levels, while offering discovery and validation capabilities in a single step. The result will be the ability to conduct gene expression research at a fraction of the time and cost currently produced by existing instrument systems. For example, the company anticipates that whole genome assay time may be significantly reduced with the SmartChip Real-Time PCR System as compared to several days or months with microarrays or real-time PCR, respectively. This decrease in research time has broad economic implications across the drug development industry, particularly for pharmaceutical companies seeking avenues for reducing time to market for their therapeutics. Further, the company believes such throughput will dramatically impact the cost of such assays.
Beyond the significant time and cost advantages, the simplicity of the SmartChip Real-Time PCR System is unparalleled. The system will provide a number of key ease-of-use features including content-ready, high-density chips containing 30,000 - 100,000 nano-wells with gene panels optimized for cancer, toxicology and whole genome. The user-friendly SmartChip Real-Time PCR System will be preloaded with some of the reaction components. At the same time, the system will only require a very small sample size as compared to other technologies and platforms and will offer real-time detection and sophisticated read-out options while assuring detection sensitivity and temperature uniformity across chips.
WaferGen Biosystems, Inc. is a leader in the development, manufacture and sale of state-of-the-art systems for gene expression, genotyping, cell biology and stem cell research for the life science and pharmaceutical industries. The company is actively developing its SmartChip(TM) product for the gene expression and genotyping markets. SmartChip is being developed as the first whole genome, high throughput gene expression real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) platform. This innovative system, combined with next-generation chemistry and optimized assays being developed by WaferGen, promises to deliver significant speed and cost advantages to researchers in the gene expression and genotyping markets. Based on collaborations established with leading research institutions, WaferGen believes that the SmartChip Real-Time PCR System is positioned as the platform of choice for biomarker discovery and validation. WaferGen currently markets its SmartSlide(TM) family of products to companies and organizations involved in stem cell and cell biology research. SmartSlide, which was launched in 2006, represents the first fluidics integrated micro-incubators enabling cell biology and stem cell research. Representative SmartSlide customers include Harvard University, Mayo Clinic, California Institute of Technology (CalTech), Abbott Labs, and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
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Vida Communication (on behalf of WaferGen)
Stephanie Diaz (investors) Tim Brons (media)
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