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Mar 24, 2008

Avesthagen Taps Affymetrix Technology for Genotyping Study

  • Affymetrix signed an agreement with Avesthagen for the use of its microarray technology in The AvestaGenome Project™, a genetic study of over 60,000 Parsi individuals. Based in India, the project aims at exploring the genetic basis of longevity and creating a genetic, genealogic, and medical database of the Parsi-Zoroastrian population.

    The project is designed to discover biomarkers and drug targets that can result in predictive, preventive, and personalized healthcare. The Parsi community was selected because of its longevity and its relatively genetically homogeneous population. Thirty-one percent of the Parsi population lives beyond the age of 60, compared to 7% nationally, Avesthagen reports.

    Affymetrix’ technology will enable researchers to correlate genes with longevity as well as neurodegenerative conditions, breast cancer, diabetes, and other diseases. Spinco Biotech will supply the microarray technology and provide technical support to Avesthagen.

    The AvestaGenome Project includes genotyping as well as expression profiling and transcriptomics. The genotyping phase of the project, which reportedly began on October 5, 2007, consists of 10,000 samples in the first year. By the middle of 2008, the team says that it will perform expression-profiling and transcript-mapping experiments in a subset. The project is expected to be completed before 2013.

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Scientifically Studying Ecstasy

MDMA (commonly known as the empathogen “ecstasy”) is classified as a Schedule 1 drug, which is reserved for compounds with no accepted medical use and a high abuse potential. Two researchers from Stanford, however, call for a rigorous scientific exploration of MDMA's effects to identify precisely how the drug works, the data from which could be used to develop therapeutic compounds.

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