Accelerated Cure Project, Regeneron Unit to Sequence Coding Portion of MS Patients’ Genes

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by Patricia Silva, PhD |

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MS DNA sequencing

The Accelerated Cure Project for Multiple Sclerosis and a Regeneron unit are teaming up to sequence the coding portion of genes in DNA samples of multiple sclerosis and other patients in the project’s repository.

The cure project is a non-profit organization whose goal is to accelerate research to improve MS diagnosis and treatment. Its biorepository contains samples from more than 3,200 people with MS, neuromyelitis optica and other conditions. It also has samples of healthy people, or controls.

Regeneron Genetics Center staff will use automated sample preparation and data processing technology in combination with cloud-based informatics systems to sequence the coding portion of genes — known as exomes —  in the cure project DNA samples. The center is a subsidiary of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals.

The exome is the protein-coding region of the human genome that contains most of the known inherited genetic variations associated with diseases.

Center researchers will use the information they obtain from the biorepository sequencing to try to find genomic biomarkers of diseases and potential treatments. The ultimate goal will be to improve patient care and outcomes.

The analysis results will be available to researchers who want to use it. It will include medical, disease and treatment information.

“This collaboration will enhance our understanding of the MS genome,” Robert McBurney, the cure project’s president and chief executive officer, said in a press release.

“Whole exome sequencing will add valuable new information to the genome-wide ‘risk gene’ dataset that has already been generated from the DNA samples in the ACP [Accelerated Cure Project] Repository by the International MS Genetics Consortium,” McBurney said. “Combining this new genetic information with the extensive phenotypic information collected for each sample donor will undoubtedly lead to new insights on the causes and mechanisms of multiple sclerosis.”

In October 2017, the cure project began collaborating with BC Platforms on better ways to manage and increase its repository, research programs and networks.

Under the agreement, the cure project gained access to BC Platforms’ technology for investigating the genetic basis of MS and accelerate research into its causes and mechanisms. Microsoft provided the cloud infrastructure for indexing and accessing the information. Biogen also joined the collaboration.

All four companies are members of the Open Biobank Research Enhancement Alliance. BC Platforms started the alliance to connect technology leaders and researchers with MS information.

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