Idec (NASDAQ: BIIB) today announced that it has entered into a
research collaboration with premier academic and research institutions
to sequence the genomes of up to 1,000 patients with amyotrophic lateral
sclerosis (ALS) in an effort to gain a deeper understanding about the
fundamental genetic causes of ALS.
Under the terms of the agreements, Biogen Idec will fund the project at
the laboratories of David Goldstein, Ph.D., Director of the Center for
Human Genome Variation at Duke University, and Richard M. Myers, Ph.D.,
President and Director of the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology.
The researchers will sequence the genomes of approximately 500 patients
with ALS over the next two years, with an ultimate goal of sequencing
1,000 ALS genomes within five years.
Duke and HudsonAlpha will work with several world-class researchers who
have deep expertise and experience with ALS and the genes associated
with the disease. Along with Dr. Goldstein and Dr. Myers, the consortium
will include Robert Brown, D.Phil., M.D., a neurologist at the
University of Massachusetts Medical School who has devoted his career to
identify gene mutations that cause ALS; Aaron Gitler, Ph.D., a
geneticist at Stanford University whose recent work has focused on risk
factors associated with ALS; Tom Maniatis, Ph.D., a molecular biologist
at Columbia University studying changes in gene expression associated
with ALS; Guy Rouleau, MD, Ph.D., a neuro-geneticist at the University
of Montreal with expertise in gene identification in multiple
neurological diseases; and Neil Shneider, M.D., Ph.D., a neurologist and
neuroscientist in the Motor Neuron Center at Columbia University, whose
work focuses on mechanisms of motor neuron degeneration in ALS.
"We are proud to collaborate with these distinguished academic and
research institutions as part of our mission to discover and develop
therapies for patients with ALS," said Tim Harris, Ph.D., Senior Vice
President of Translational Medicine and Biochemistry at Biogen Idec.
"ALS is a devastating and deadly neurodegenerative disease, and there is
an urgent need for effective therapies. This effort promises to yield a
better understanding of the genetic underpinnings of the disease and
possibly provide new targets for potential therapies."
"Identifying the mutations that can lead to neurodegenerative disease
provides a key foothold for developing new therapies and a framework for
understanding variation in how patients progress and respond to
treatment," said Dr. Goldstein of Duke. "Biogen Idec understands the
importance of academic and industrial partnership in the effort to build
as complete a picture of ALS genetics as possible, and we are grateful
for the tremendous support that Biogen Idec is providing in this effort."
"Our hope is that the scientific discoveries resulting from this project
will be translated into treatments that alleviate suffering and save the
lives of people touched by this terrible disease," said Dr. Myers of