Posted in | Nanomedicine

NIH Awards Grant for Research Involving WaferGen's SmartChip Real-Time PCR System

Published on October 31, 2008 at 11:11 AM

WaferGen Biosystems, Inc., a leading developer of state-of-the-art gene expression, genotyping, cell biology and stem cell research systems, today announced that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded a team of researchers at University of Pittsburgh an approximately $3 million grant to conduct novel gene expression research in the area of lung disease involving WaferGen's SmartChip(TM) Real-Time PCR System. This research team, led by Naftali Kaminski, M.D., Steven Shapiro, M.D., and Frank Sciurba, M.D., will apply gene expression profiling to lung samples from patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). The researchers' goal is to identify and validate disease relevant gene expression signatures and microenvironments, while also generating relevant module maps of COPD and IPF that will help to characterize the diseases and their underlying causes. WaferGen's SmartChip platform will be used to validate the researcher's gene expression findings in the area of lung disease.

Additionally, this NIH-funded research will include the development and application of the PulmoSmartChip, a custom designed SmartChip molecular phenotyping assay for COPD and IPF. The PulmoSmartChip, which will include the lowest number of genes that distinguish all phenotypes of IPF and COPD, will be used to identify and validate module networks capable of predicting the natural history of the diseases and patients' response to specific therapeutics. Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh believe that the availability of these modules, as well as the validated PulmoSmartChip assay that allows their measurement using parallel quantitative real-time PCR, will be a significant step in laying the foundations for the introduction of personalized medicine approaches in pulmonary medicine.

"The decision by the NIH to fund this important gene expression research at the University of Pittsburgh represents a critical step for WaferGen and our SmartChip platform. We are pleased by the decision made by our collaborators at the University of Pittsburgh to involve the SmartChip Real- Time PCR System in novel gene expression research projects," stated Alnoor Shivji, WaferGen's chairman and chief executive officer. "The work related to the development and use of the PulmoSmartChip is particularly exciting as it will seek to demonstrate the inherent power of the SmartChip system in creating and utilizing custom disease-specific gene expression assays. We anticipate that this cutting-edge functionality, which we believe is reproducible and applicable across all disease areas, will position the SmartChip system as the platform of choice for discovery and validation of biomarkers."

The University of Pittsburgh is the first research institution to have access to WaferGen's SmartChip Real-Time PCR System. This group is a key partner for WaferGen as it oversees leading clinical and research programs in all major lung diseases including COPD, IPF and asthma. These represent just a few of the important disease indications for which the SmartChip Real-Time PCR system can enable critical gene expression research.

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