FREMONT, Calif., March 16 WaferGen Biosystems, Inc. (OTC Bulletin Board: WGBS), a leading developer of state-of-the-art genetic analysis systems, today announced that Ghent University (UGent) in Belgium has signed a research collaboration and is an early-access customer for the WaferGen SmartChip(TM) Real-Time PCR System.
Under the terms of the collaboration, UGent will be part of WaferGen's early-access SmartChip program with shipment occurring in the first quarter 2010. UGent is working to validate a biomarker signature for childhood cancer neuroblastoma to aid in detection and therapy. They will also utilize the SmartChip Human microRNA gene panel to evaluate various disease states; develop new applications for the SmartChip platform; and collaborate on developing and evaluating software for real-time PCR data analysis.
"This collaboration represents growing recognition of our SmartChip Real-Time PCR System as a valuable gene analysis tool that will ultimately lead to more affordable targeted therapies," said Alnoor Shivji, WaferGen's chairman and chief executive officer. "We welcome Ghent University as our fifth top-tier research collaborator, and look forward to working with them to advance the use of the SmartChip platform in the area of childhood cancer and various other disease states."
"We are eager to integrate the high throughput quantitative benefits of SmartChip real-time PCR into our functional genomics research programs," said Professor Jo Vandesompele, the lead investigator, who is a professor in functional cancer genomics and applied bio-informatics at Ghent University, CEO of Biogazelle and a leading expert and pioneer in the domain of real-time PCR. "Using the SmartChip platform, we believe we can study thousands of genes simultaneously to identify novel gene signatures or run multiple samples on a single chip to validate the signature of interest. This should enable greater accuracy for discovery of biomarkers and decreased time to results. We have identified several projects where we believe that the SmartChip will help us advance our biomarker research. What we have lacked is a platform that can give us the flexibility to be used for discovery and validation with real-time PCR performance."
WaferGen and UGent scientists believe that the research conducted as part of this collaboration may lead to the successful validation of a prognostic gene signature for neuroblastoma, a form of childhood cancer with widely variable clinical course. By measuring a signature on the SmartChip platform, scientists could provide physicians with new tools for earlier discovery or help with selection of appropriate treatments.
Professor Vandesompele and his team will also utilize the SmartChip Human microRNA Panel to evaluate various disease states. MicroRNAs are small non-protein-coding single-stranded RNA molecules of 21-23 nucleotides in length that function as negative regulators of gene expression by targeting specific messenger RNAs. This either inhibits translation or promotes messenger RNA degradation. Cancer diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment are important potential clinical applications of microRNA profiling. The new Human microRNA expression profiling service will use the human genes from the new miRBase version 14.0 sequence database, providing researchers with the latest, up-to-date-sequences. The SmartChip Human microRNA Panel provides the most comprehensive panel of over 800 microRNAs on a single SmartChip to enable discovery of disease specific microRNAs.
WaferGen has established collaborations with other leading research institutions that are using the SmartChip System. The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center is conducting novel gene expression research in the area of lung disease. The University of Texas Southwestern is using SmartChip to identify and validate gene expression biomarkers related to wound healing. UT Southwestern and IR BioSciences Holdings, Inc., are also focused on wound healing research. The Duke University Medical Center is conducting novel genotyping research projects using SmartChip to validate single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that are related to breast cancer.
WaferGen Biosystems, Inc. is an emerging leader in the development, manufacture and sale of state-of-the-art systems for genetic analysis for the life science and pharmaceutical industries. The company recently launched its new innovative fee-based service for gene-expression profiling while continuing to actively develop its SmartChip Real-Time PCR System that is designed as the first whole genome, high-throughput gene expression real-time PCR platform. Based on collaborations established with leading research institutions, WaferGen believes that the SmartChip Real-Time PCR System is positioned as the platform of choice for biomarker discovery and validation. For additional information, please see http://www.wafergen.com.
Forward Looking Statements
This press release contains certain "forward-looking statements". Such statements include statements relating to the company's beliefs relating to goals of the collaboration between WaferGen and Ghent University, the value of SmartChip as a tool that will ultimately lead to greater accuracy for discovery of biomarkers, decreased time to results and more affordable targeted therapies, and the positioning of the company's SmartChip technology as the platform of choice for biomarker discovery and validation. Such statements are not historical facts and may be preceded by the words "intends," "may," "will," "plans," "expects," "anticipates," "projects," "predicts," "estimates," "aims," "believes," "hopes," "potential" or similar words.
Forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance, are based on certain assumptions and are subject to various known and unknown risks and uncertainties, many of which are beyond the control of the company. Actual results may differ materially from the expectations contained in the forward-looking statements. Factors that may cause such differences include the risks that: (i) the company may be unsuccessful in commercially developing its products or in achieving market acceptance of new and relatively unproven technologies; (ii) the company will need to raise additional capital to meet its business requirements in the future and the company may not be able to do so on reasonable terms or at all; (iii) the company's proprietary intellectual property rights may not adequately protect its products and technologies; and (iv) the company expects intense competition in its target markets, including from companies that have much greater resources than the company, and there can be no assurance that the company will be able to compete effectively. More detailed information about the company and the risk factors that may affect the realization of forward-looking statements is set forth in the company's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including the company's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2008 and the company's Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended September 30, 2009. Investors and security holders are urged to read this document free of charge on the SEC's web site at www.sec.gov. The company does not undertake to publicly update or revise its forward-looking statements as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.
Contact: WaferGen Mona Chadha 510-651-4450 [email protected]
SOURCE WaferGen Biosystems, Inc.