Covance has announced it will collaborate on a genome sequencing project with Broad Institute to create genomic resources for a research model.
The CRO (contract research organisation) says its new Next-Generation Sequencing capabilities will be used to profile microRNA expression in various tissue samples from this model.
The research model has applications in a range of therapeutic fields, including respiratory disorders, oncology and cardiovascular disease, as well as is reproduction and neuroscience.
And Covance, who is conducting the research at its Seattle-based genomics laboratory, plans to make its microRNA sequencing data and its analysis available to the entire research community.
It seems the company hopes the project – funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health – will help establish it as a viable candidate for outsourcing complex research work, rather than just a source of man power.
A spokesperson for the company said: “The microRNA sequencing data and its analysis will be made available to the entire research community to further develop essential comparative and functional genomic tools.”
And Tom Turi, VP of science and technology for Covance discovery and translational services, commented: “These studies will rapidly expand our current knowledge of this area, laying the ground work for in-depth investigation of biomedically-relevant disease processes.”
Dr Frederica Di Palma, group leader of the Vertebrate Genome Biology group at the Broad Institute added: “Covance‘s contribution to the ongoing genome project will be a tremendous benefit to the scientific community focused on this model.
“Their microRNA sequencing will significantly inform gene expression and regulation in this important model organism and accelerate the development of new tools for genomic research and their application to drug development and therapeutics.”
Shift in focus
Covance has further established its roots in the academic side of contract research with the announcement that it will expand its drug metabolism services to include drug-transporter interactions with eight human transporters.
The eight cell lines include P-glycoprotein (P-gp/MDR1), breast cancer resistant protein (BCRP), organic cation transporters 1& 2 (OCT1 & OCT2), organic anion transporter 3 (OAT3), organic anion transporting polypeptides 1B1 and 1B3 (OATP1B1 & OATP1B3), and multidrug resistance-associated protein 2 (MRP2).
A spokesperson for the company said: “Covance now offers assessment of drug-transporter interactions involving major human transporters key to drug disposition in a stably transfected, cell-based format regarded as a superior model for reliable, reproducible results.”
Through their new program, the firm hopes to help clients in drug discovery and development programs, as well as in patient recruitment – selecting the best candidates – and meeting the ever increasing demands of the regulatory agencies.
Causing a stir
The new projects are already causing a buzz in the medical community.
John Engelhardt, a professor at the University of Iowa and an expert in genomic sequencing research said of Covance’s microRNA project: “This collaboration will significantly expand the domestic specimen’s genomics toolbox and thus the ability of this model to dissect disease processes and develop therapies for a wide range of human illnesses.
“Coupled with the recent development of technologies to genetically engineer models, completion of the genomics databases will revolutionize molecular medicine research with this species.”
John Robson, president of analytical services at Covance added: “As the expansion of our drug metabolism services illustrates, Covance continuously invests in new technologies and testing methods to help our clients better characterize future medicines.
“We believe that our unique ability to integrate drug metabolism testing capabilities with our broad-range of non-clinical and clinical services provides a strategic time and cost advantage for our pharmaceutical and biotechnology clients.”
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