TGen and NAU awarded multi-million dollar grant to identify genetic signatures of pathogens


Research projects to be conducted utilizing Applied Biosystems Real-Time PCR technology

The Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and Northern Arizona University (NAU) today announced the award of a multi-million dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that encompasses several projects, the first of which aims to improve the understanding and management of sepsis and community acquired pneumonia (CAP). This multi-year project is expected to further progress toward more rapid and accurate tools for treating patients afflicted by these deadly pathogens.

Sepsis and CAP are among the top ten leading causes of death for most age groups worldwide, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Every minute of every day, one person is dying from sepsis in the U.S. and this number is projected to rise at a rate of 1.5 percent per year. A 25 percent reduction in mortality due to sepsis has the potential to save the lives of 50,000 people in the U.S. and over 1 million individuals worldwide each year, estimates the Institute for Healthcare Improvement.

"A major challenge facing health care providers in the successful treatment of medical conditions such as sepsis and CAP is the inability to rapidly and consistently diagnosis these conditions," said Dr. Paul Keim, Director of Pathogen Genomics at TGen and Director of the Microbial Genetics and Genomics ABOR Center at Northern Arizona University. "By coupling the genomic signature analysis from our initial research to high-throughput assays we can validate signatures very rapidly and accelerate the advancement of this technology for improving public health."

Supported by Applied Biosystems (NYSE:ABI), this project aims to discover pathogen-specific DNA signatures. These signatures will then be used to design and validate Applied Biosystems TaqManŽ Real-time PCR assays for the accurate identification of these life-threatening infections. Verification and validation in a clinical laboratory setting will take place through the Laboratory Services of Arizona (LSA) and the Banner Health System. In addition, an informatics system will be developed for handling assay data during the validation and eventually for handling associated clinical data in a HIPAA compliant environment.

"Each day thousands of patients in our hospitals and around the world are facing life-threatening situations caused by these infections," said Dr. Ellen Feigal, Senior Vice President of Research and Deputy Scientific Director of TGen. "This public/private collaboration will accelerate more accurate diagnoses and effective treatments for these patients."

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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