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Lineagen and Fast Forward Collaborate to Develop Gene and Biomarker-Based Clinical Assays for Multiple Sclerosis
Date:12/14/2011

SALT LAKE CITY, Dec. 14, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Lineagen, Inc., an innovative molecular diagnostics company focused on complex, genetically linked disorders, and Fast Forward, LLC, a nonprofit subsidiary of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, today announced an alliance to fund the clinical development and validation of a blood-based assay for multiple sclerosis (MS). The goal of the program is to develop a test that can aid clinicians in diagnosing MS, distinguishing it from other neurological disorders, and providing the prognostic information needed to help guide treatment decisions and response to therapies.

Under the terms of the Sponsored Research Agreement, Fast Forward is committing $622,000 to establish and validate a broad array of biomarkers for MS, including genes associated with predisposition to the disease and blood based markers that have diagnostic and prognostic potential. The funding will support an ongoing clinical program that is being conducted under the teams of John W. Rose, M.D., Professor of Neurology at the University of Utah and Mark Leppert, Ph.D., Professor of Human Genetics at the University of Utah.

"We are pleased to partner with Lineagen in the advancement of its innovative technology for MS," said Timothy Coetzee, Ph.D., Chief Research Officer of the National MS Society. "Fast Forward's partnership with Lineagen reflects our commitment to create new tools and technology to assist physicians in making diagnostic and treatment decisions that will improve the quality of life for people living with this disease."

Michael S. Paul, Ph.D., Lineagen's President and Chief Executive Officer, stated, "It is a great opportunity for Lineagen to collaborate with Fast Forward and the National MS Society. This collaboration will enhance the development and validation of our proprietary gene and biomarker-based assay in MS.  The funding from Fast Forward will accelerate this clinical program, allowing the collaborative team to evaluate and affirm a broad number of biomarkers simultaneously, with the collective goal of delivering our best testing services to physicians and patients."

Dr. Rose commented, "One of the most critical challenges is to find answers to key questions, such as how do we identify those patients who are more likely to experience disease progression and how do we determine patients' potential responsiveness to therapy? With this important funding provided by Fast Forward, we will rapidly gain key insights that we believe can have a profound impact on the lives of people living with MS."

About MS

MS is a chronic, unpredictable neurological disease that affects the central nervous system. It is thought to be an autoimmune disorder, meaning the immune system incorrectly attacks healthy tissue. Symptoms may be mild, such as numbness in the limbs, or severe, such as paralysis or loss of vision. These problems may be permanent or may come and go. According to the National MS Society, at least 400,000 Americans have MS, and every hour someone is newly diagnosed. MS affects about 2.1 million people worldwide.

About Lineagen

Lineagen, based in Salt Lake City, sells integrated diagnostic and consultative services for complex disorders to physicians, combining high-value genetic testing with comprehensive, personalized consultative services.

Lineagen is strongly differentiated through its focus on specific complex diseases and disorders with demonstrated genetic association: autism spectrum disorders (ASD), multiple sclerosis (MS) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD). This specialization enables the company to combine powerful insight into clinical diagnostic pathways with strong proprietary and in-licensed research data, resulting in earlier, more personalized intervention and management for conditions where genetic susceptibility matters. Lineagen addresses a large, unmet, and growing need for expert genetic testing and counseling services designed to support community physicians and families.

For additional information, please visit http://www.lineagen.com.  

About Fast Forward, LLC

Fast Forward, LLC is a nonprofit organization established by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society in order to accelerate the development of treatments for MS. Fast Forward will accomplish its mission by connecting university-based MS research with private-sector drug development and by funding small biotechnology/pharmaceutical companies to develop innovative new MS therapies and repurpose FDA-approved drugs as new treatments for MS. More information can be found at www.fastforward.org.

About The National Multiple Sclerosis Society

The National MS Society addresses the challenges of each person affected by MS by funding cutting-edge research, driving change through advocacy, facilitating professional education, collaborating with MS organizations around the world, and providing programs and services designed to help people with MS and their families move their lives forward. We are people who want to do something about MS now, and are dedicated to achieving a world free of MS. Join the movement at www.nationalMSsociety.org.

Lineagen, Inc.
Justin Jackson
Burns McClellan
Tel: (212) 213-0006
jjackson@burnsmc.com

National MS Society and Fast Forward, LLC
Arney Rosenblat
Associate Vice President, Public Affairs, National MS Society
Tel: (212) 476-0436
Arney.Rosenblat@nmss.org

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