The objective of the collaboration is to help advance the potential global utility of stem cell-derived assays for use in drug discovery and toxicity testing by exploring the underlying genetic variation between ethnically diverse human stem cell lines. The collaboration was announced at a signing ceremony attended by Dr Amr Abid, General Manager Cell Technologies, GE Healthcare Life Sciences and Lin Fang, Vice President of BGI, Ye Yin, Deputy President of BGI, and Yutao Du, Deputy President of BGI.
The collaborating parties are initially undertaking two ground-breaking projects. Firstly, BGI is performing genome sequencing and epigenetic analysis on cardiomyocytes and hepatocytes supplied by GE Healthcare Life Sciences. The aim is to map out the genetic variation across an ethnically diverse range of stem cell lines and to examine the changes that occur during differentiation into specific cell types in order to increase the understanding of cell models used in drug development research. Secondly, GE Healthcare is providing BGI with an IN Cell Analyzer 2000 system, a research tool for high content cellular imaging analysis. Training on the IN Cell Analyzer will be provided to BGI, enabling it to investigate gene function for a library of previously sequenced cell types by overexpressing or blocking the activity of single genes and observing the effect in selected populations of cells.
Dr Amr Abid, General Manager Cell Technologies, GE Healthcare Life Sciences, said, "As the pharmaceutical industry seeks to reduce the cost of drug development and to bring more effective, safer drugs to market, the availability of more biologically relevant and predictive cell models is becoming increasingly important. Our long term vision is to help this process by developing a broad range of Cytiva™ stem-cell derived assays, to include cell types from a wide diversity of ethnic backgrounds. This is a big challenge and we are delighted to be working with such a prestigious institute as the BGI, with its significant resources and world-class capabilities in genomics and epigenomics. By working together, we will advance our understanding of different stem cell lines, which in turn may in the future help in the global drive to develop new, safer and more effective medicines."
Yutao Du, Deputy President of BGI, said, "The importance of high-throughput sequencing has been increasing rapidly in the areas of healthcare, agriculture, environment, and others. Genetic variation analysis of functional cells derived from embryonic stem cells may provide a promising cell model resource for drug development and cell therapy. We are grateful for this opportunity to join hands with an outstanding healthcare organization to push the boundaries of understanding in the field of stem cells."