Clinical OMICS

MAY-JUN 2017

Healthcare magazine for research scientists, labs, pathologists, hospitals, cancer centers, physicians and biopharma companies providing news articles, expert interviews and videos about molecular diagnostics in precision medicine

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Page 8 of 47 May/June 2017 Clinical OMICs 7 WorldQuant Gives $5 million to Weill Cornell to Implement Algorithms for Improved Health Outcomes WorldQuant, LLC, a global quantitative investment firm, has gifted $5 million to Weill Cornell Medicine for state-of-the-art molecular profiling technologies that are based on advanced financial algorithms. WorldQuant announced the gift April 28. The money will support a five-year study that will help accelerate and expand Weill Cornell Medicine's ability to improve health outcomes, WorldQuant said. "One of the unique aspects of this initiative is that we will explore the utility of advanced financial algorithms now being used to predict temporal stock market fluctuations to predict health trajectories," said Christopher Mason, M.D., co-di- rector of the WorldQuant Initiative for Quantitative Prediction at Weill Cornell Medicine. "This has never been done, but is tremendously exciting." The study fits in a longer-term vision to improve healthcare using advanced analytics, global datasets, and new genomic tech- nologies that interrogate complex mixtures of single cells and single molecules, Dr. Mason said. WorldQuant's grant will help Weill Cornell predict a patient's risk of developing diseases that include cancer, neurological disor- ders, cardiovascular diseases, and infections, said Olivier Elemento, M.D., co-di- rector of the project. "Unlike new drugs, predictive models based on biomarkers that predict risk of disease, or evolution of disease, can be applied to the clinic relatively quickly once validated." Dr. Elemento said the validation requires application to large numbers of clin- ical samples, both retrospectively and prospectively, which the study will have through global partners. The project will involve joint work with physician-scientists at the Caryl and Israel Englander Institute for Precision Medicine and the Sandra and Edward Meyer Cancer Center at Weill Cornell Medicine. "There is a great opportunity to leverage the technology and proprietary algo- rithms we've developed for use outside of the financial markets, particularly around predictive medicine and cancer research, where the stakes are so high," said Igor Tulchinsky, founder of WorldQuant and a member of the board of over- seers at Weill Cornell Medicine. "This initiative has tremendous possibilities." —Diana Manos HASLOO / Getty Images (continued on next page) in the consortium's study, which focused on de novo variants—rare genetic muta- tions that are not inherited from parents, but rather occur spontaneously at con- ception. Of the 400 risk genes, four looked particularly disruptive. One gene that is considered particularly "high risk" is WWC1, also called KIBRA (for KIdney- and BRAin-expressed protein). This gene, which is involved in brain development, memory, and the brain's response to the hormone estrogen, appears to have a greater than 90% probability of contrib- uting to Tourette syndrome. Additional details appeared May 3 in the journal Neuron, in an article entitled "De Novo Coding Variants Are Strongly Associated with Tourette Disorder." The authors of the Neuron article said they hope that their findings will help uncover the genetic and brain pathways that cause the disorder and enable the devel- opment of more effective treatments. "We have completed WES of 325 Tourette disorder trios from the Tourette International Collaborative Genetics cohort and a replication sample of 186 trios from the Tourette Syndrome Asso- ciation International Consortium on Genetics (511 total)," wrote the authors of the Neuron article. "We observe strong and consistent evidence for the contri- bution of de novo likely gene-disrupting (LGD) variants." Cambridge Epigenetix Licenses DNA Methylation Technologies Cambridge Epigenetix has strengthened its position in epigenetic biomarker dis- covery by licensing technologies from Boston Children's Hospital that the com- pany said could improve the diagno- sis and treatment of cancer and other diseases.

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