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New research alliance aims to speed up therapy development

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For immediate use
Tuesday 13 December 2005

A new alliance dedicated to understanding the genetic basis of disease has been announced today between Imperial College London, the Medical Research Council (MRC) and biotech company Affymetrix.

The agreement will expand use of Affymetrixs microarray technology by Imperial and the MRC to target conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer by analysing the genetic variations associated with them. Researchers hope this detailed understanding of how disease is caused at a molecular level will speed up translation from the laboratory to clinical trials, ultimately leading to new therapies.

The alliance will enlarge the activities of the existing Microarray Centre, set up by the MRCs Clinical Sciences Centre and Imperial in 2000, to improve its facilities for research and clinical trials. Building on its current activities, the alliance will enable the partners to undertake the larger research programmes needed to produce medical applications from our understanding of the human genome.

The agreement will speed up translation from the lab to clinical trials

This enlarged Centre, coupled with related initiatives at the College, will offer a complete package of knowledge-led clinical trial statistics, profiling informatics and data management. This sophisticated use of profiling allows clinical trials to be designed around clear biological knowledge from the start.

Professor Stephen Smith Opens in new window, Principal of the Faculty of Medicine at Imperial, says: It is becoming increasingly clear that understanding the relationship between genes and human health is the key to future medical breakthroughs. This research alliance will enable us and our partners to combine our expertise to gain a much better understanding of a number of health problems and develop new treatments to tackle them.

Professor Chris Higgins Opens in new window, Director of the Clinical Sciences Centre, adds: This new alliance with Affymetrix will greatly enhance our ability to undertake research into the genetics of major diseases and will ultimately lead to improvements in diagnosis and treatment.

Gareth Thomson, senior marketing manager at Affymetrix, says: Affymetrix is engaged with many leading research organisations, such as Imperial College London and the Medical Research Council, to help classify, manage and treat complex diseases. Scientists around the world are using our GeneChip technology to accelerate the development of new diagnosis, therapy and monitoring tools, which will ultimately enable a personalised medicine approach to treatment.

Microarray chips allow scientists to study gene expression by providing a snapshot of all the genes that are active in a cell at a particular time. This gives doctors a way to better classify and manage diseases, potentially enabling treatments to be developed that are specifically targeted for individual patients.

For further information contact:

Abigail Smith
Imperial College London Press Office
Tel: 020 7594 6701

Notes to Editors

About Affymetrix

Affymetrix scientists invented the world's first microarray in 1989 and began selling the first commercial microarray in 1994. Since then, Affymetrix GeneChip® technology has become the industry standard in molecular biology research. 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 1,200 systems have been shipped around the world and more than 3,000 peer-reviewed papers have been published using the technology. Affymetrix' patented photolithographic manufacturing process provides the most information capacity available today on an array, enabling researchers to use a whole-genome approach to analyse the relationship between genetics and health. Headquartered in Santa Clara, Calif., Affymetrix has subsidiaries in Europe and Asia in addition to manufacturing facilities in Sacramento, Calif. and Bedford, Mass. The company has about 900 employees worldwide. For more information about Affymetrix, please visit the company's website at

About the Medical Research Council

The MRC is the leading UK Government agency for the support of biomedical research with an annual budget of around £500M. The Clinical Sciences Centre is one of three directly funded MRC Research Institutes, and has established a strong strategic and research partnership with Imperial College as a Division of the Faculty of Medicine. CSC has international research programmes in epigenetics and development, in vivo imaging, brain disorders, cardiovascular and metabolic disorders and a special responsibility to ensure the translation of basic research for clinical benefit.

About Imperial College London

Consistently rated in the top three UK university institutions, Imperial College London is a world leading science-based university whose reputation for excellence in teaching and research attracts students (11,000) and staff (6,000) of the highest international quality.
Innovative research at the College explores the interface between science, medicine, engineering and management and delivers practical solutions that enhance the quality of life and the environment underpinned by a dynamic enterprise culture.