Oracle starts the Oracle Health Sciences Institute (OHSI), in partnership with Sun Labs

The Institute is focused on research that will accelerate IT innovation to advance personalized medicine and the delivery of safe and effective   treatments and health care services to patients around the globe. OHSI will work in tandem with academic research centers, focusing on a targeted set of research areas fundamental to the R&D and health care delivery challenges facing health sciences organizations today. Research priorities currently include: artificial intelligence and semantic technology; genomic, genetic and phenotypic data analysis; data mining to support optimization of clinical trials; and predictive algorithms and other technology to advance patient safety and provide advanced decision support at the point of care.Academic institutions interested in collaborating with OHSI in these focus areas should contact OHSI representatives at Oracle http://linkd.in/bXf98c
Oracle starts Oracle Health Sciences Institute (OHSI), in partnership with Sun Labs. This is exiting news and I hope we get to see the participation of Open Source Drug Development Network (OSDD) and initiative by CSIR India earlier supported by Sun Microsystems

Genetics Influence Blood Preassure medication

The study published in Jan. 23 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association  is a thumps up for those interested towards personalized medicine, a small but important step.

A person’s genetic make-up seems to influence how he or she reacts to certain hypertension medications. The new study focused on the NPPA (atrial natriuretic precursor A) gene, which is involved in forming atrial natriuretic polypeptide, which acts as a diuretic.

n all, 38,462 people with hypertension underwent genotyping [genetic testing] and were randomly assigned to receive a diuretic (chlorthalidone) or one of the following three drugs: a calcium channel blocker (amlodipine); an angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitor (lisinopril); or an alpha-blocker (doxazosin).

people with hypertension and two different NPPA genotypes (known as NPPA G664A and NPPA T2238C) responded differently to different medications.

Transplant Patients Could Live Free of Anti-Rejection Drugs

Scientists from the Lucile Packard Childrens Hospital and the Stanford University School of Medicine have identified a pattern of gene expression shared by a small group of patients who beat the odds and remained healthy for years without medication, after undergoing Organ transplant.

The findings made by Minnie Sarwal, MD, PhD, a pediatric nephrologist at Packard Children’s is a major advantage in organ transplantation treatment. Transplant recipients who share the same pattern of genes but are still on conventional medication may be able to reduce or eliminate their lifelong dependence on immunosuppressive drugs. The study may also help physicians determine how best to induce acceptance, or tolerance, of donor organs in all transplant patients, regardless of their gene expression profiles.

Although the anti-rejection medications, known as immunosuppressants, tamp down the immune system enough to permit lifesaving organ transplants, their benefits come at a price. They also quash the bodys natural response to dangerous invaders, such as bacteria and viruses, and to rogue cancer cells. Transplant physicians prescribing immunosuppressants to their patients walk a fine line between avoiding organ rejection and increasing the risk of infection and cancer

The researchers used microarray, or gene chip, technology to compare gene expression patterns in blood samples from 16 healthy volunteers with those from three groups of adult kidney transplant recipients from the United States, Canada and France

IS Microarray facing the DOOM….Invading microarray turf……….

ChIP-sequencing (ChIPSeq) – a combination of chromatin immunoprecipitation and next-generation, or parallel, sequencing. The feat was performed “with a speed and precision that goes beyond what has been achieved with previous technologies,” comments University of Washington geneticist Stanley Fields, in an accompanying essay in Science.

hIP is a well-established lab technique to identify those specific sites where proteins latch onto the DNA. Cells are treated with a chemical to fossilize the links between DNA and protein, the chromatin is then isolated, the DNA broken up, and the attached proteins immunoprecipitated. Finally, the DNA stuck to the protein can be released and analyzed. Until now, the most high-throughput application of this technique involved using microarrays containing thousands of gene spots able to identify binding sites for transcription factors and the like.

Next-Generation Sequencing Invades Microarray Turf By Kevin Davies June 14, 2007 | Two new papers unveil a new dimension to commercial next-generation sequencing applications – one that could potentiallypose a threat to more-established microarray technologies. Using theGenome Analyzer from Illumina/Solexa, two groups working independentlyhave been able to map the locations across the genome where a specific
DNA-binding protein latches onto the DNA.

ChIPSeq is a cost-effective alternative to microarray methods, with a significant upside. “Other ultrahigh-throughput sequencing platforms, such as the one from 454 LifeSciences, could also be used to assay ChIP products, but whatever sequencing platform is used, our results indicate that read numbercapacity and input ChIP DNA size are key parameters,” Johnson et al. writes.ChIPSeq might be an order of magnitude cheaper than microarray alternatives, with the eight flow cell lanes in theGenome Analyzer offering excellent design flexibility. Fewer materialsare required, and the method can be applied to any organism – it is not restricted to available gene arrays.

Changing ChIPs
The advantages of ChIPSeq over ChIP-chip include the ability to interrogate the entire genome rather than just the genesrepresented on a microarray. (For example, Johnson et al. point out thata similar experiment using Affymetrix-style microarrays would requireroughly 1 billion features per array.) There is also the benefit of
sidestepping known hybridization complications with microarrayplatforms. “Perhaps most usefully,” writes Fields, “ChIPSeq canimmediately be applied to any of those [available] genomes, rather thanonly those for which microarrays are available.”

Tougher times for Drug Resistant Bacteria

The Secret of how to prevent bacteria from developing drug resistance has been revealed in a new study.Drugs called bisphosphonates, widely prescribed for bone loss has been found to help in preventing an enzyme that helps in conjugation of bacteria, by help of which it derives drug resistance.

Many highly-drug resistant bacteria rely on an enzyme, called DNA relaxase, to obtain and pass on their resistance genes. Relaxase  plays a crucial role in conjugation as it is the gate keeper that starts and stops the movement of DNA between bacteria durig conjugation.

researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, have stopped the microbes’ ability to spread, among other advantageous mutations, resistance to antibiotics, by disabling the enzyme using molecules known as  bisphosphonates

The study by Matthew Redinbo and his associates is published in this week’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA

The antibiotic-resistant Escherichia coli bacteria that were trying to pass their genes along, actually died when their DNA relaxase was shielded thus preveinting the spread of drug resistant bacteria andpossibility of more mutations.

The news is will bring fresh hopes at a stage when drugresistant strain of the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus infects over 1 million US hospital patients every year.

Microarray to detect mutations in largest Human Gene

The average human gene consists of 3000 bases, but sizes vary greatly, with the largest known human gene being dystrophin at 2.4 million bases. Residing at Chromosome 4 it has long been of interest to the medical community because its the gene responsible for huntington’s disease, polycystic kidney disease, a form of muscular dystrophy and a variety of other inherited disorders. Chromosome 2 is noteworthy for being the second largest human chromosome, trailing only chromosome 1 in size. It is also home to the gene with the longest known, protein-coding sequence – a 280,000 base pair gene that codes for a muscle protein, called titin, which is 33,000 amino acids long.

Now reseacrhers at Emory university has developed a microarray based test to chek for mutations in this gene. The current test do not detect all types of mutation that affects 1 in 3500 males according to the university wesbite.

Mutations in the dystrophin such as point mutations in a sequence of DNA can result in mistakes in gene  expression and nonfunctional proteins that causes Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD).

A detailed presentation of the advantages of the test is available at the Emory Genetics Testing website. The test offeredon the Nimblegen CGH array platform gains more prominance as the company is now being acquired by Roche who has plans to dominate the clinical microarray market with its products in genetics testing space

The emory university Genetics testing lab offers numerous other genetic tests

Rribozymes prevent the spread of HIV in the body

considered by some to be the ‘living fossils’ of a time when life was based on RNA -Rribozymes have been used by researchers to prevent the spread of HIV in the body

The Medical Marketing International Group (MMI) scientists have used these ancient RNA catalysts to suppress key receptors that allow HIV to enter cells

HIV enters cells using the cellular receptors CCR5 or CXCR4 and previous work has shown that preventing the expression of these receptors using the Company’s proprietary ribozymes, which target the messenger RNA (‘mRNA’) that encodes these proteins, is highly effective at preventing HIV replication in vitro. The results announced today show that the ribozyme technology can effectively deliver the ribozyme and suppress expression of these receptors in an advanced in vivo model. Moreover, a single administration of the ribozymes was able to maintain suppression of the receptors for a significant period (>35 days so far), indicating that a pool of HIV-resistant cells could be established.

Indian genetic database offers R&D advances

Imagine a diabetic patient from NewYork being put on a drug regimen distinct from a patient London. Personalized medicine allows tratement to decided on the genetic make up of the individual. Genetically europeans and asians and others have different ways of responding to same treatment genetically

FortunatelyIf Indian researchers have their way, such customised medication based on genetic differences could be a possibility for a range of illnesses.

A consortium of Indian scientists recently completed a genetic database for India, home to one of the world’s most ethnically diverse populations that will allow researchers to understand the genetic predisposition of ethnic groups to diseases. Icelanders are considered for Human genome project because of very less number such diversity

The genetic map will enable global and Indian pharma companies to enhance research on predictive medicine and targeted drugs. Research firm TCG Life Sciences is about to become the first private player to use the database.

The consortium collected data on the genetic codes of over a 1,000 genes from among 15,000 individuals belonging to Indian sub-populations

Another user of the data is the clinical diabetics’ consortium, which aims to identify if there are specific genetic reasons for a particular ethnic group to be predisposed to the disease. It is already known that some cultures are pre disposed to certain diseases so Indian are more prone to heart attack and diabetes and such

The Indian Genome Variation Consortium, a public-private partnership that networks six Council of Indian Scientific and Industrial Research labs and some private software firms, undertook the genetic variation mapping.

UK is appealing for volunteers to help worlds biggest medical experiment project- to understand impact of Genetics and life style in illness and medical treatment

 UK is appealing for volunteers to help worlds biggest medical experiment project- to understand impact of Genetics and lifestyle in health and medical treatment

The  BBC reports about a medical experiment aiming to be the biggest in the world is appealing for volunteers to help end Scotland’s reputation as the “sick man of Europe”.

The project named as  UK Biobank will be the world’s biggest resource for the study of the role of nature and nurture in health and disease.

Funded and guided under the supervision of leading scientists from the UK and around the world. Funded by the  Wellcome Trust, the UK’s largest independent medical research charity, the  Medical Research Council, the Department of Health, the Scottish Executive and the Northwest Regional Development Agency. and many other major medical research charities, including the British Heart Foundation and Cancer Research UK. The project is also supported by the National Health Service.

claiming to help not just the volunteer, but for the future generation to come the £61m UK Biobank project will track the health of thousands of people for up to 30 years.

Information and DNA gathered from volunteers will be used by researchers to help tackle serious diseases.

Volunteers will be asked to attend an assessment centre where they will fill out a lifestyle questionnaire, have body measurements such as bone density, blood pressure, height and weight recorded, and donate a small sample of blood and urine for long-term storage as a resource for researchers in the future.

Researchers will study the relationship between our genes, our lifestyles and our current health to find out why some people develop certain illnesses and others do not.

It is hoped the project will eventually include 500,000 volunteers from across Britain, making it the biggest study of its type ever undertaken.

The Biobank will run alongside the complementary Generation Scotland project, which focuses on how genes inherited from our parents affect the likelihood of developing diseases.

Data collected by the two projects will be used to help prevent and develop new treatments for cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, mental health illnesses, osteoporosis and arthritis.

ASGT unveils new Platform for Regulating Expression of therapeutic Genes

During 10th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Gene Therapy (ASGT) in Seattle a new methid for  Regulating Expression of therapeutic Genes was introduced.

For many applications, gene transfer is being employed to engineer cells for therapeutic applications, chek the following links for article 1 IFR , 2 (Nature), 3 (NIH) , that require precise regulation in order to ensure gene expression in the correct tissue and prevent it in unwanted cell types,

Now, a team of scientists led by Dr. Luigi Naldini at the San Raffaele Telethon Institute for Gene Therapy (HSR-TIGET) in Milan have developed a new design that enable delivered genes to become highly responsive to a cell’s identity with the helps of gene regulation mediated by small RNA molecules, known as microRNA. This is particularly relevant for the emerging field of stem cell gene therapy, in which genes are delivered into a cell that can give rise to many distinct cell types.

MicroRNAs downregulate the expression of specific genes in cells where the gene is not needed, and thereby have an important influence over the identity of the cell.

Addition of microRNA binding sites into their gene delivery vectors results in gene regulation dictated by the cell’s own microRNA. Simply put, they could engineer their gene to be turned off in cells where the microRNA is present.

Dr. Naldini’s group has already begun to successfully exploit microRNA regulation for achieving stable long-term correction of hemophilia in the mouse model and for improving the safety of hematopoietic stem cell gene therapy.

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