Mayo Biobank Collaborates with Company Seeking to Identify Alzheimer’s Risk
The Mayo Clinic’s Biobank program, fresh off the launch of a nationwide government program to store 35 million donated bio-samples to advance the science of individualized medicine, has now also attracted a private-sector collaboration targeting Alzheimer’s disease.
The Mayo Biobank is a collection of blood samples and other health information donated by some 50,000 Mayo Clinic patients since it was established in 2009. It collects samples and health information from patients and other volunteers regardless of health history, making it unique from other, disease-specific biobanks in that regard – and in so also making it singularly useful for researchers working in genomics-based individualized medicine.
The facility got plenty of national attention in 2016 when it received a five-year, $142 million grant from the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) to serve as the official biobank for the massive All of Us project, which seeks to enlist 1 million volunteers from across the country to donate 35 bio-samples each to advance precision medicine.
The NIH officially launched the effort this month after Mayo doubled the biobank’s physical space in Rochester in preparation for the study.
The biobank’s unique attributes, meanwhile, are also proving attractive to the private sector as well as to government researchers.
For instance, its potential to yield information on the connection between genomics and Alzheimer’s drew the interest of the privately-held British company Cytox Ltd., a precision medicine firm seeking to commercialize a new method of scoring a person’s genetic risk for developing Alzheimer’s and other neurological diseases.
Cytox and Mayo last week announced a research collaboration through which the Oxford, England-based biotech will obtain biobank samples from Mayo’s Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, ranging from those classified as clinically normal to those from donors diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment, as well as samples from donors diagnosed with mild Alzheimer’s disease.
The company will then genotype the samples as part of its efforts to “develop new proprietary algorithms relating to the diagnosis and prognosis of Alzheimer’s disease.”
Cytox CEO Dr. Richard Pither asserted the biobank is a one-of-a-kind resource for individualized medicine research for several reasons.
“The Mayo Clinic Alzheimer’s biobank presents a tremendous research opportunity, not only due to the thousands of blood samples it holds, but also because of the clinical annotation accompanying the samples,” he said.
Cytox, he added, is hoping to generate data from the bio-samples to help develop a predictive risk score which could one day be used as a valuable resource for future Alzheimer’s research as well as in clinical trials.
“Over time we plan to make the products and services that result from this collaboration available to both physicians and patients,” Dr. Pither said.