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Data analysis platform for fixed biological samples under development

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A collaboration to develop a solution for large-scale use of formalin fixed, paraffin embedded (FFPE) tissue in molecular analyses has been agreed between CLC bio, AROS Applied Biotechnology, F. Hoffmann-La Roche, and Aarhus University Hospital - the Institute of Pathology and the Research Unit for Molecular Medicine.

The project goal is to develop a complete platform for selecting appropriate FFPE samples, choosing the optimal sequencing technology, and subsequently assembling and analysing the high-throughput sequencing data. The main application areas will be molecular diagnostics research and re-analysis of pre-clinical trials where drugs have failed despite relatively high rates of positive responses. The project is budgeted to 5 million USD, half of which will be funded by the Danish National Advanced Technology Foundation.

Professor Stephen Hamilton Dutoit from the Institute of Pathology at Aarhus University Hospital, stated: 'With personalised medicine we're opening the door to a new era where each patient will be treated in the most effective way for them individually. One of the requirements for doing this, is to be able to compare the genome of the individual patient and their diseased tissues to a broad range of control samples. Having access to high-throughput genomic analyses of the vast number of existing archive FFPE samples will be an invaluable contribution to achieving this.'

Both academia and the pharma industry have difficulties getting sufficient high quality fresh tissues. Using the proposed platform, researchers will have access to vastly more samples than can be collected in traditional fresh tissue biobanks. Equally important, these samples can be efficiently linked to high quality patient data through numerous health-care, disease and population registries, providing unique opportunities to boost research in disease mechanisms and rescue drugs from failure.

Director of scientific development at CLC bio, Dr Roald Forsberg, commented: 'For decades, hospitals globally have collected millions of diagnostic tissue samples and corresponding patient data, representing a unique biobank. However, until now there hasn't been a high-throughput solution for collecting, sequencing, and analysing DNA extracted from FFPE tissue samples. Our new platform will change that and give access to the research treasure trove that lies in these huge biobanks.'