Fast Forward will provide $622,000 for diagnostic and prognostic tools.

Lineagen, a molecular diagnostics company, and Fast Forward, a nonprofit subsidiary of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, are joining forces to develop a test for multiple sclerosis (MS). The goal of the program is to develop a test that can aid clinicians in diagnosing MS and provide the prognostic information needed to help guide treatment decisions and response to therapies.

Under terms of the sponsored research agreement, Fast Forward is committing $622,000 to establish and validate an array of biomarkers for MS, including genes associated with predisposition to the disease and blood-based markers that have diagnostic and prognostic potential. The funding will support an ongoing clinical program that is being conducted under the teams of John W. Rose, M.D., professor of neurology at the University of Utah and Mark Leppert, Ph.D., professor of human genetics at the University of Utah.

Lineagen, based in Salt Lake City, is focused on diagnostic and consultative services for complex genetic disorders. The company is working on a test for chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder and has one commercial product, FirstStepDx, for autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

FirstStep is an integrated genetic testing, counseling, and developmental screening service to aid in the clinical evaluation of children with ASD or other forms of developmental delay. FirstStep must be ordered by a doctor and use the provided collection kit, which includes an oral collection swab; blood collection kits are also available for circumstances in which a buccal sample is either undesirable or impossible. The Affymetrix CytoScanTM HD Array, used in FirstStepDx, has exceptionally dense DNA probe coverage across the whole genome, according to Lineagen.

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