Affymetrix 500K Array Used To Identify Memory Gene

Armen Hareyan's picture
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Affymetrix Inc. announced today that researchers at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) in Phoenix, Arizona have used the Affymetrix 500K Array to discover a gene - called Kibra - associated with memory performance in humans. The team's findings may be used to develop new medicines for memory-based diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's by providing scientists with a better understanding of how memory works at the molecular level.

The study entitled, "Common KIBRA alleles are associated with human memory performance," will be published in the Oct. 20, 2006 issue of Science. The research team was led by Dietrich Stephan, Ph.D., director of TGen's Neurogenomics Division. It included colleagues at the University of Zurich in Switzerland, Banner Alzheimer's Institute and Mayo Clinic Scottsdale.

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"Using the latest Affymetrix 500K Array, we have shed light on the fundamental biological process of human memory performance," said Dr. Stephan. "We can use this new understanding to develop drugs that will improve memory function."

Until now, researchers did not have access to the high-density technology needed to examine the genetic components associated with memory performance. The team at TGen used Affymetrix Human Mapping 500K Arrays to analyze 500,000 DNA markers simultaneously, providing a genetic blueprint for the memory-study participants. The researchers discovered the Kibra gene by comparing the genetic blueprints of people with good memory vs. poor memory and looking for the genetic variations consistently present in one group, but not the other. They then validated their discovery by replicating the Kibra gene finding in two separate and distinct groups of subjects.

"This memory study is a perfect example of how the use of advanced technologies in human genetics yields fundamental discoveries," said Stephen P.A. Fodor, Ph.D., chairman and CEO at Affymetrix.

The Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, is focused on developing earlier diagnostics and smarter treatments. Translational genomics research is a relatively new field employing innovative advances arising from the Human Genome Project and applying them to the development of diagnostics, prognostics and therapies for cancer, neurological disorders, diabetes and other complex diseases. TGen's research is based on personalized medicine and the institute plans to accomplish its goals through robust and disease-focused research.

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