A Medical Device Daily

WaferGen Biosystems (Fremont, California), a developer of gene expression, genotyping, cell biology and stem cell research systems, reported that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded a team of researchers at the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) a nearly $3 million grant to conduct novel gene expression research in the area of lung disease involving WaferGen's SmartChip Real-Time PCR System.

This research team, led by Drs. Naftali Kaminski, Steven Shapiro and Frank Sciurba, will apply gene expression profiling to lung samples from patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF).

The researchers' goal is to identify and validate disease relevant gene expression signatures and microenvironments, while also generating relevant module maps of COPD and IPF that will help to characterize the diseases and their underlying causes. WaferGen's SmartChip platform will be used to validate the researchers' gene expression findings in the area of lung disease.

Additionally, this NIH-funded research will include the development and application of the PulmoSmartChip, a custom designed SmartChip molecular phenotyping assay for COPD and IPF. The PulmoSmartChip, which will include the lowest number of genes that distinguish all phenotypes of IPF and COPD, will be used to identify and validate module networks capable of predicting the natural history of the diseases and patients' response to specific therapeutics.

The Pitt researchers said they believe that the availability of these modules, as well as the validated PulmoSmartChip assay that allows their measurement using parallel quantitative real-time PCR, will be a significant step in laying the foundations for the introduction of personalized medicine approaches in pulmonary medicine.

The University of Pittsburgh is the first research institution to have access to WaferGen's SmartChip Real-Time PCR System. This group is a key partner for WaferGen as it oversees leading clinical and research programs in all major lung diseases, including COPD, IPF and asthma.

These represent just a few of the disease indications for which the SmartChip system can enable critical gene-expression research.