A Diagnostics & Imaging Week

A team of researchers from the Mayo Clinic (Rochester, Minnesota) reported preliminary data that demonstrates the advantages of sequencing-based approaches for associating structural variants with RNA expression profiles to identify potential biomarkers in head and neck cancer.

The data is the result of an ongoing scientific collaboration formed in 2008 between the Mayo Clinic and Applied Biosystems (Foster City, California), a division of Life Technologies Corporation (Carlsbad, California).

Large-scale genomic rearrangements, or structural variations, are a hallmark of most cancers because they contribute to genetic instability reportedly involved in carcinogenesis. It is widely believed that mutations in DNA sequence are transcribed to messenger RNA (mRNA) and ultimately translate into a functional protein. An emerging hypothesis suggests that mRNA may regulate processes such as alternative splicing and RNA editing and a variety of cellular functions.

Researchers from the Mayo Clinic are using digital gene expression capabilities of the SOLiD System to associate genetic variation at the transcript level with structural variants. A key to understanding structural variation is the ability to visualize chromosomal rearrangements and other changes to large segments of DNA such as copy number variations, inversions, translocations, insertions, and deletions.

Sequencing-based RNA expression analysis enabled the researchers to establish directionality of expressed transcripts which is significant because DNA is transcribed in two different directions. Establishing directionality of expressed transcripts allows researchers to more easily determine which RNA transcripts, are coding and non-coding. Non-coding RNAs play an increasingly important role in regulating biological processes involved in cancer differentiation and development.

In other agreements/contracts:

• Mirna Therapeutics (San Francisco), a wholly owned subsidiary of Asuragen (Austin, Texas) and the University of California, San Francisco reported that they have entered into a collaboration agreement to evaluate the capacity of specific microRNAs to reduce or eliminate tumors in mouse models of cancer. The collaboration will include studies of cancer-related microRNAs that were discovered at both Mirna and UCSF as well as small RNAs that will be identified in research using mouse and cell models from UCSF.

"miRNAs are exciting new therapeutic targets for cancer therapy. Our collaboration with Mirna will allow us to identify potentially novel tumor-associated miRNAs using genetically-defined cancer model systems," said Andrei Goga, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor at UCSF and Member of the UCSF Helen Diller Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Perceptive Informatics (Boston) an eClinical solutions provider and a subsidiary of Parexel International (Waltham, Massachusetts), reported it has established an alliance with AG Mednet (Boston) a global diagnostic imaging network, to bring greater efficiency to the electronic transport of medical images and a higher level of quality to imaging data. Medical imaging data collected globally from clinical sites will be delivered to Perceptive Informatics through AG Mednet's secure, web-enabled network.

Through a more efficient image acquisition and collection process, which eliminates medical image file shipments, Perceptive's alliance with AG Mednet is focused on helping sponsors to realize cost savings. Perceptive said that due to the high image quality available through AG Mednet's digital delivery system, it is able to help sponsors decrease the time required for image reviews since less time will be spent on queries and data reconciliation with sites.

AG Mednet, which provides the largest HIPAA and 21 CFR Part 11 compliant image transport and exchange network, routes a broad range of medical imaging modalities, including CT, MRI, ultrasound, PET and digital X-ray.

PGxHealth, a division of Clinical Data (Newton, Massachusetts), said it has executed a contract with Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (BCBSA; Chicago) that will provide individual Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies with access to the Famillion Long QT Syndrome (LQTS) genetic tests for inherited cardiac syndromes.

PGxHealth is an approved Medicare provider for its genetic testing services, and a Medicaid provider in 38 states and the District of Columbia.

Roadside Medical Clinic + Lab (Las Vegas) said that it selected TeleMedExperts (Sarasota, Florida) and the company's network of medical providers to launch Roadside Medical Clinic + Lab's national franchise and licensing network of medical clinics located at Pilot Travel Centers (Knoxville, Tennessee).

Roadside Medical Clinic + Lab also has chosen TeleMedExperts as an exclusive provider of customized electronic medical health records technology equipping each of the Roadside Medical Clinics and providing over-the-road drivers with a traveling health record.