Affymetrix Inc. has announced that it has signed an agreement with Avesthagen Limited, a biotechnology company based in Bangalore, India.
Under the terms of the agreement, Affymetrix’ microarray technology will be used for The AVESTAGENOME Project™, a comprehensive genetic study of more than 60,000 Parsi individuals. The project will explore the genetic basis of longevity and create a genetic, genealogic and medical database of the Parsi-Zoroastrian population.
Thirty-one percent of the Parsi population lives beyond the age of 60, compared to seven percent nationally. A better understanding of the genetic causes of longevity could have a major impact on the Indian Government’s healthcare budget and drug companies’ marketing efforts.
The use of Affymetrix technology will enable researchers to correlate genes with longevity, as well as neurodegenerative conditions, breast cancer, diabetes and other complex diseases that affect the Parsi community.
The Parsi community was selected because of its longevity and its relatively genetically homogeneous population. The AVESTAGENOME Project™ was designed to lead to discovery of novel biomarkers and drug targets that can result in predictive, preventive and personalized healthcare.
“Working closely with a global leader such as Affymetrix provides us with access to industry-leading technology and some of the world’s most prominent genetic researchers,” said Villoo Morawala-Patell, Ph.D., founder, chairperson & managing director of Avesthagen Limited. “We believe that the combination of the Affymetrix technology and our team of scientists will yield interesting findings that will benefit people around the world.”
The AVESTAGENOME Project™ takes a systems biology approach which encompasses not only genotyping but also expression profiling and transcriptomics. The genotyping phase of the project, which began on October 5, 2007, consists of 10,000 samples in the first year. By the middle of 2008, the team will perform expression profiling and transcript mapping experiments across a subset of the samples. The project is expected to be completed before 2013.
“The AVESTAGENOME Project™ is a prime example of a community uniting to accelerate research for the common diseases affecting one another,” said Kevin King, president of Affymetrix. “Affymetrix looks forward to a long-term relationship with the Avesthagen team as it develops the Parsi database and then looks to create more effective diagnostics and personalized treatments for patients.”