DiaGenic and Harvard Medical School Partner on Parkinson’s


Developing reliable diagnostics through gene expression profiling

John Erik Stacy 22 April 2008

DiaGenic is staying ahead of the curve by translating emerging methodologies into routine clinical diagnoses. Their eye for possibilities has helped them see how cutting edge science can be applied to health care issues in the here and now – and this in turn has brought them into collaboration with Harvard Medical School and funds from the Michael J Fox Foundation.

The project with Harvard will create a blood test that can diagnose Parkinson’s disease at an early stage. Although the disease affects millions and costs billions of dollars, as yet no laboratory test for Parkinson’s has come to market. A good early test is clearly a crying need, since early and accurate diagnosis will improve patient outcomes by allowing timely and appropriate therapeutic intervention.

Scientists at DiaGenic, together with Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School Professor Clemens Scherzer, are working to create a test from techniques that are currently the exclusive domain of the most advanced research facilities. That is, DiaGenic proposes to create gene expression based tests that can be performed in clinical labs around the world.

The key to the test under development is that Parkinson’s patients differ predictably in their gene expression profiles in blood (that is, which genes are expressed and at what level) from those in the general population. The collaboration between DiaGenic and Harvard will help to hammer out the details of the test. In particular, they will work to further solidify their understanding of which genes “talk out of turn” and which “do not speak up” in Parkinson’s. They will use this information to create products dedicated to Parkinson’s diagnosis that can be validated for clinical use.

The Parkinson’s project is an example of the DiaGenic business plan to provide a “bridge” from research technology to the diagnostics bench. Other projects in the pipeline include diagnostic tests for Alzheimer’s and breast cancer. DiaGenic headquarters and labs are in Oslo, Norway. The company is lead by CEO Erik Christensen and shares are listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange under the ticker “DIAG“.

This article was also published in the Norwegian American Weekly. 

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