February 27, 2006

Canadian Company working on Schizophrenia Genetics

Genizon Biosciences Inc. -- a Montreal genetics research firm headed by a London native, co-founded by Moroccan and U.S. scientists and largely funded by Europeans -- that history is vitally important: They believe it holds the secrets to the most common hereditary diseases in the world.

Six million Quebecers can trace their roots to just 2,600 French settlers that arrived in the 17th century. Well into the 1900s, old-stock Quebecois, the so-called pure laine, largely stuck to their own -- French Catholic -- so the province has a limited gene pool.

It means Quebec is an ideal place to study genetic ailments.

Now, after six years and $60-million spent collecting blood from thousands of Quebecois, Genizon's researchers believe they are on the brink of a breakthrough.

Already Genizon claims to have pinpointed up to 12 of the genes that cause Crohn's disease, an affliction of the bowels -- compared with the two genes that were previously discovered.

Armed with state-of-the-art machinery capable of doing 60 million DNA analyses a day, 300 computers to process the data and $12-million in new financing expected to close next week, Genizon hopes to rapidly expand that list of genetically mapped diseases.

Next month, it will start hunting for the genes that cause attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, followed in May by endometriosis, a condition that causes pelvic pain and the formation of cysts. Schizophrenia, osteoarthritis and type II diabetes are next. Genizon is targeting 20 ailments in all, ranging from baldness to multiple sclerosis.

Mr. Hooper has a solid track record in the industry and a tight-knit board featuring some of the world's leading biotechnology venture capitalists. Genizon is talking to top pharmaceutical firms about licensing its discoveries and new drug development.

The company has raised $68-million since 2000 and could go public next year.

Source: Canada - Financial Post

For more information see: Genizon Biosciences Inc.


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