Yissum Announces the Launch of the Hebrew University's Genetic Resource for Studies of Common Diseases
News Mar 20, 2008
Yissum, the Technology Transfer Company of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Israel, announced has the launch of the Hebrew University Genetic Resource.
HUGR, a case-control DNA database for genetic association studies of common diseases, consists of 15,000 DNA samples from Ashkenazi Jews and represents 16 different diseases. The scientific community can directly access the DNA samples through HUGR and test genes of interest in one of the represented diseases.
HUGR has already proved useful in various studies, including a recent study where a gene variant that increases the risk of developing schizophrenia in women but not in men, was identified. The study was published in the journal PLoS Genetics.
"This study is an excellent example of the potential of the HUGR platform. The effect of the gene variant on schizophrenia was found in several populations, but was strongest in the Ashkenazi Jewish population. To the best of my knowledge this was the first time that a whole-genome association study on schizophrenia was undertaken at a scale capable of producing meaningful and replicable results," said Professor Ariel Darvasi from the Department of Genetics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Nava Swersky Sofer, Yissum President & CEO added, "We are pleased to be able to provide this important resource to researchers, for the benefit of the public. This unique database can provide valuable information to researchers seeking remedies for many debilitating diseases."
HUGR consists of DNA samples collected solely from the Ashkenazi Jewish population in Israel. The genetic and environmental homogeneity of the Ashkenazi Jewish population renders this database especially valuable for genetic studies. Among the 16 diseases represented in the database are diabetes types I and II, several cancers, neurological diseases, psychiatric diseases, hypertension and asthma.
Scientists can order genotyping of any single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) of interest on any of the samples and solely own the results.
As genome editing technologies advance toward clinical therapies, they are raising hopes of a completely new way to treat disease. However, challenges need to be addressed before potential treatments can be widely used in patients. To tackle these challenges, the National Institutes of Health has launched the Somatic Cell Genome Editing program, which has awarded multiple grants including more than $3.6 million to assess the safety of genome editing in human cells and tissues.