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Imperial, MRC and Affymetrix Collaborate to Speed-up Therapy Development

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An alliance dedicated to understanding the genetic basis of disease has been announced between Imperial College London, the Medical Research Council (MRC) and biotech company Affymetrix

The agreement will expand use of Affymetrixs microarray technology by Imperial and the MRC to target conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer by analysing the genetic variations associated with them.

Researchers hope this detailed understanding of how disease is caused at a molecular level will speed up translation from the laboratory to clinical trials, ultimately leading to new therapies.

The alliance will enlarge the activities of the existing Microarray Centre, set up by the MRCs Clinical Sciences Centre and Imperial in 2000, to improve its facilities for research and clinical trials.

Building on its current activities, the alliance will enable the partners to undertake the larger research programmes needed to produce medical applications from their understanding of the human genome.

This enlarged Centre, coupled with related initiatives at the College, will offer a complete package of knowledge-led clinical trial statistics, profiling informatics and data management.

This sophisticated use of profiling allows clinical trials to be designed around clear biological knowledge from the start.

Professor Stephen Smith, Principal of the Faculty of Medicine at Imperial says, "It is becoming increasingly clear that understanding the relationship between genes and human health is the key to future medical breakthroughs."

"This research alliance will enable us and our partners to combine our expertise to gain a much better understanding of a number of health problems and develop new treatments to tackle them."

Professor Chris Higgins, Director of the Clinical Sciences Centre, adds, "This new alliance with Affymetrix will greatly enhance our ability to undertake research into the genetics of major diseases and will ultimately lead to improvements in diagnosis and treatment."

Gareth Thomson, senior marketing manager at Affymetrix, says, "Affymetrix is engaged with many leading research organisations, such as Imperial College London and the Medical Research Council, to help classify, manage and treat complex diseases."

"Scientists around the world are using our GeneChip technology to accelerate the development of new diagnosis, therapy and monitoring tools, which will ultimately enable a personalised medicine approach to treatment."