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Männedorf, Switzerland and Hannover, Germany, 19 September 2003. GenePaint, a technology developed by Professor Gregor Eichele, Director at the Max-Planck-Institute for Experimental Endocrinology, Hannover, Germany receives world-wide acknowledgment. It forms one of the core technologies at a new, high profile, neuroscientific institute in Seattle/USA. The Allen Institute for Brain Research officially opened on 16 September and is set to revolutionize brain research. It received 100 million dollars in funding from The Paul Allen Foundation and was founded by Paul Allen, a co-founder of Microsoft and a donor of numerous medical research projects.
Molecular biology combined with classical disciplines of neuro anatomy and physiology will unravel/reveal completely new functional dimensions of the brain. The first ambitious project, "Allen's Brain Atlas", will involve a complete mapping of the activity of all genes in the adult mouse brain GenePaint, a procedure, that characterizes the activity pattern of thousands of genes within a short time is the key technology that will enable this project to be realized.
Since sequencing of the human genes is complete, the "Brain Atlas represents a logical continuation of the Human Genome Project.,where gene function is being determined. In order to understand gene functions it is necessary to study the gene expression patterns and/or activity in tissue and cells. In each case, the genes are activated and converted into proteins, which are also needed in certain organs. Professor Eichele pioneered the GenePaint technology in the late 90’s. He developed it in Hannover, Germany and in parallel at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. His work with the companies Tecan, Leica and Orgarat led to the high throughput procedure for viewing & imaging gene activities in sections of tissue. The expression samples are digitized and made accessible in a data base.
"In the past year we have focused on chromosome 21 to show that genome wide mapping of gene activity with GenePaint is feasible", explains Professor Eichele. With the extensive similarity of the mouse and human genomes, he predicts that a complete molecular “Brain Atlas” of the mouse will provide extensive realizations of the functions of genes in the human brain and concomitantly the discovery of new medicines for illnesses of this organ. "I am thrilled that our technology has been endorsed by laboratories and institutes in the USA. It is unfortunate that the market in germany is still relatively immature and that GenePaint currently remains untapped” commented Professor Eichele
In the context of "Allen's Brain Atlas," the activity for approximately 20,000 genes in the brain of the mouse will first be determined. The resulting patterns will be placed into a database, which will be accessible to scientists world-wide. A group of recognized researchers backs the project, including James Watson, who laid the foundation-stone for the genomic technology with the discovery of the DNA. According to expectations, “Allen's Brain Atlas” will advance and accelerate the research into brain illnesses (e.g. Alzheimer, schizophrenia and depressions).
Max-Planck-Institut für experimentelle Endokrinologie, Hannover
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Tecan Group Ltd.
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