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GEN News Highlights : Jun 12, 2012

GE Healthcare, BGI Explore Stem Cell Genetics with a View to Drug Discovery Assays

GE aims to develop range of Cytiva assays based on ethnically diverse stem cells.

GE Healthcare and China-based sequencing firm BGI signed a multiyear stem cell science collaboration that aims to provide new insights into the genetic variation of ethinically diverse human stem cell lines. The ultimate goal is to enable the development of relevant human stem cell assays for use in drug discovery and toxicity.

Two projects will initially be undertaken. In the first BGI will carry out genome sequencing and epigenetic analysis on ethnically diverse cardiomyocytes and hepatocytes supplied by GE, to map genetic variation and determine changes that occur during stem cell differentiation. For the second project GE is providing BGI with an IN Cell Analyzer to allow the latter to investigate gene function by overexpressing or blocking single gene activity in a library of already sequenced cell types.

GE claims drug discovery and development is increasingly relying on the availability of more biologically relevant and predictive cell models. “Our long term vision is to help this process by developing a broad range of Cytiva™ stem cell-derived assays, to include cell types from a wide diversity of ethnic backgrounds,” explains Amr Abid, Ph.D., GE Healthcare Life Sciences’ general manager for cell technologies. The firm says its collaboration with BGI will help provide new insights into the genetic basis of different stem cell lines, to aid in the development of more relevant cell models.