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Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium Completes Whole-genome Association Project Using Affymetrix Technology

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Affymetrix Inc. has announced that the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium (WTCCC) has used its GeneChip® microarray technology to complete the world's largest whole-genome association project to date.

The research team analyzed the genetic information of more than 17,000 individuals to find genes associated with seven common complex human diseases. A manuscript, entitled "Genome-wide Association Study of 14,000 Cases of Seven Common Diseases and 3,000 Shared Controls," published in the June 7, 2007 issue of Nature details the results of these studies.

The large-scale WTCCC project proves that whole-genome association analysis is a highly effective approach for discovering genes associated with complex diseases.

The research team used the Affymetrix 500K Arrays to detect 24 genetic associations across Bipolar Disorder, Coronary Artery Disease, Crohn's Disease, Hypertension, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Type 1 Diabetes and Type 2 Diabetes.

The WTCCC is a team of leading human geneticists from more than 50 different research institutes throughout the United Kingdom, including the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Leicester UniversityCambridge University and Oxford University.

"This project is a tremendous validation of the genome-wide association approach to complex human disease genetics, as well as the ability of the Affymetrix genotyping platform," said Professor Peter Donnelly from the Department of Statistics at Oxford, who chairs the consortium.

"When we began this study, the HapMap project had just been completed and the technologies were brand new. We are pleased to have been able to shed new light not only on the genetic basis of a large number of human diseases but also on the design and analysis of genome-wide association studies as a whole," said Donnelly.

More than 10 billion individual genotypes were produced as part of this project. Researchers used the Affymetrix technology to genotype around 2,000 cases for each disease. The genotyping data was then compared to information from 3,000 common controls in the U.K. The team was able to find strong evidence for genetic associations and confirm previously published results.

"The Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium is world-renowned for its genetic research. These latest discoveries are crucial and should lead to a number of new personalized tests and treatments that will help in the fight against several of the world's most common diseases," said Kevin King, president of life sciences business and executive vice president at Affymetrix.

"Affymetrix genotyping technology has generated data for more than 300 peer-reviewed scientific publications, making it the clear, gold-standard platform for large-scale studies," King continued.

The genotyping services were conducted through a partnership with the Affymetrix Services Lab, which assists customers with strategic high-throughput projects and helps test and validate new technologies.