Baylor Research Institute (BRI), the research arm of Baylor Health Care System, and bioinformatics pioneer Eureka Genomics (EG) have formed a strategic alliance to achieve a better understanding of the causes of colorectal cancer, potentially leading to advancements in the disease's prevention, management and treatment.
Baylor Research Institute's contribution to the collaboration is its expertise and clinical resources relating to colorectal cancer and its intellectual property regarding the JC virus as a potential causative agent in that deadly disease. Eureka will contribute its proprietary bioinformatics system applied to large amounts of next generation sequence data, which provides a highly efficient and powerful screening process.
With this combination of resources, the entities hope to confirm the JC virus' involvement in colorectal cancer and/or possibly identify other microbial or genetic factors. Investigators at BRI have previously conducted research that strongly suggests that the JC virus is responsible for initiating some or perhaps most colorectal cancers, and it is hoped that the collaboration with Eureka will further validate this observation.
"This collaboration represents an opportunity to use next generation DNA sequencing techniques – or deep sequencing – to look for non-human DNA sequences in colon tumors. It will help us know how many copies of the virus are present in tumor tissues, whether the virus is integrated (i.e., actually entered into the human DNA sequences) or, as we think, exists as an independent ‘parasite' in the nucleus," said C. Richard Boland, M.D., principal BRI investigator and chief of the gastroenterology division at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas.
"The long-range implications are that one could eventually immunize against this virus with the hope of preventing or delaying the development of many tumors. This relationship provides a chance to obtain confirmation and possible expansion of our original work, which in turn may accelerate achievement of that goal in humans. For this purpose, EG is a uniquely qualified and powerful collaborator for BRI."
H. Koshinsky, Ph.D., who is chief science officer of Eureka Genomics, said the tools to fully validate work like that led by Dr. Boland have not been available until recently.
"However, now the generation of the required large amounts of sequence data is tractable, and EG has proprietary bioinformatics that can analyze these large data sets and look for the presence of sequences (human and/or non-human) associated with the colorectal cancer samples and absent in other samples."
She said, "The components for the full validation of the association of JC virus with colorectal cancer are in place and may lead to advances in the detection of, treatment of and even the vaccination against colorectal and other cancers. We are looking forward to this and other projects with BRI."
The parties will jointly own any intellectual property relating to the biology or etiology of cancer arising from their collaboration and will share revenues from commercialization of potential diagnostics and treatments resulting from the validation program now under way.
About Eureka Genomics: Eureka Genomics is a privately held company and leader in the advanced bioinformatics analysis of next-generation sequencing data, which it applies to the discovery of novel microorganisms associated with cancers and other life threatening diseases. The company further leverages its proprietary algorithms and biological problem-solving expertise by providing collaborative, high quality sequencing and analysis services on a cost-effective basis to a broad range of university, governmental and industry researchers around the world. www.eurekagenomics.com
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