The AVESTAGENOME Project(TM) to Study Genetic Basis of Longevity and Create Genetic, Genealogical and Medical Database of the Parsi Community
SANTA CLARA, Calif.–Affymetrix Inc. (Nasdaq:AFFX – News) today announced that it has signed an agreement with Avesthagen Limited, a leading biotechnology company based in Bangalore, India. Under the terms of the agreement, Affymetrix’ microarray technology will be used for The AVESTAGENOME Project™, a comprehensive genetic study of more than 60,000 Parsi individuals. The project will explore the genetic basis of longevity and create a genetic, genealogic and medical database of the Parsi-Zoroastrian population.
Thirty-one percent of the Parsi population lives beyond the age of 60, compared to seven percent nationally1. A better understanding of the genetic causes of longevity could have a major impact on the Indian Government’s healthcare budget and drug companies’ marketing efforts.
The use of Affymetrix technology will enable researchers to correlate genes with longevity, as well as neurodegenerative conditions, breast cancer, diabetes and other complex diseases that affect the Parsi community. The Parsi community was selected because of its longevity and its relatively genetically homogeneous population. The AVESTAGENOME Project™ was designed to lead to discovery of novel biomarkers and drug targets that can result in predictive, preventive and personalized healthcare.
“Working closely with a global leader such as Affymetrix provides us with access to industry-leading technology and some of the world’s most prominent genetic researchers,” said Villoo Morawala-Patell, Ph.D., founder, chairperson & managing director of Avesthagen Limited. “We believe that the combination of the Affymetrix technology and our team of scientists will yield interesting findings that will benefit people around the world.”
The AVESTAGENOME Project™ takes a systems biology approach which encompasses not only genotyping but also expression profiling and transcriptomics. The genotyping phase of the project, which began on October 5, 2007, consists of 10,000 samples in the first year. By the middle of 2008, the team will perform expression profiling and transcript mapping experiments across a subset of the samples. The project is expected to be completed before 2013.
“The AVESTAGENOME Project™ is a prime example of a community uniting to accelerate research for the common diseases affecting one another,” said Kevin King, president of Affymetrix. “Affymetrix looks forward to a long-term relationship with the Avesthagen team as it develops the Parsi database and then looks to create more effective diagnostics and personalized treatments for patients.”
All of the genetic information for The AVESTAGENOME Project™ is being collected following informed consent. Data confidentiality is being maintained as in accordance with the Indian Council of Medical Research guidelines.
Spinco Biotech Pvt. Ltd. will supply the Affymetrix microarray technology and provide technical support to Avesthagen. Since being founded in 1981, Spinco Biotech has grown into a leading distributor of instrumentation and reagents for the biotechnology research and industrial markets across India.
Affymetrix GeneChip® microarray technology is the industry-standard tool for analyzing complex genetic information. After inventing microarray technology in the late 1980s, Affymetrix scientists have been dedicated to developing innovative products that provide researchers with a more complete view of the genome. These products continue to accelerate genetic research and enable scientists to develop diagnostics and tailor treatments for individual patients by identifying and measuring the genetic information associated with complex diseases.
Today, Affymetrix technology is used by the world’s top pharmaceutical, diagnostic and biotechnology companies, as well as leading academic, government and not-for-profit research institutes. More than 1,700 systems have been shipped around the world and more than 11,000 peer-reviewed papers have been published using the technology.
Affymetrix is headquartered in Santa Clara, Calif., and has manufacturing facilities in Sacramento, Calif., Cleveland, Ohio, and Singapore. The company has about 1,100 employees worldwide and maintains sales and distribution operations across Europe and Asia. For more information about Affymetrix, please visit: www.affymetrix.com.
All statements in this press release that are not historical are “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act as amended, including statements regarding Affymetrix’ “expectations,” “beliefs,” “hopes,” “intentions,” “strategies” or the like. Such statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially for Affymetrix from those projected, including, but not limited to: risks and uncertainties relating to commercial success of the agreement with Avesthagen discussed in this press release; risks of the company’s ability to achieve and sustain higher levels of revenue, higher gross margins and reduced operating expenses; uncertainties related to technological approaches, manufacturing and product development; personnel retention; uncertainties related to cost and pricing of Affymetrix products; dependence on collaborative partners; uncertainties related to sole-source suppliers; risks associated with past and future acquisitions; uncertainties relating to FDA and other regulatory approvals; competition; risks relating to intellectual property of others and the uncertainties of patent protection and litigation. These and other risk factors are discussed in Affymetrix’ Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2007, and other SEC reports, including its Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q for subsequent quarterly periods. Affymetrix expressly disclaims any obligation or undertaking to release publicly any updates or revisions to any forward-looking statements contained herein to reflect any change in Affymetrix’ expectations with regard thereto or any change in events, conditions or circumstances on which any such statements are based.
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1 UNESCO Parsi Zoroastrian Project: http://www.unescoparzor.com/project/demographics.htm