China-based genomics services giant BGI will work with GE to explore variation between human stem cell lines of different ethnicities. By increasing understanding of genetic variation the collaborators think they can help pharmaceutical companies cut the timelines and cost of drug development.
“The availability of more biologically relevant and predictive cell models is becoming increasingly important”, Amr Abid, general manager, cell technologies at GE Healthcare Life Sciences, said.
Work will focus initially on two projects. In the first BGI will use its capabilities in genome sequencing and epigenetic analysis to map genetic variation in cardiomyocytes and hepatocytes supplied by GE.
The companies think analysis of the ethnically diverse range of stem cell lines will help them see the changes that occur during differentiation into specific cell types. By applying this knowledge to cell models used in drug development the collaborators hope to make more accurate predictions.
For the second project GE is providing BGI with an IN Cell Analyzer 2000 system. BGI will use the high content cellular imaging analysis tool to investigate a library of previously sequenced cell types. GE will train BGI on how to use the system to analyse overexpression and blocking of single genes.
Yutao Du, deputy president of BGI, said: “The importance of high-throughput sequencing has been increasing rapidly in the area of healthcare. Genetic variation analysis of functional cells derived from embryonic stem cells may provide a promising cell model resource for drug development and cell therapy.”