The Genetic Link

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Article by: Ian Curry

DNA Genotek's Top 10 List for 2009


I have to admit, coming up with DNA Genotek's "Top 10 list for 2009" was more difficult than I imagined it would be. There are so many great things that happened in the past year - in our company, with our customers, and in the field of genetics - but I think I've narrowed it down to those that are most significant.

DNA Genotek's "Top 10 list for 2009" is based on my own experience and things that I observed or learned over the past year. The list is by no means comprehensive, but I assure you that these are the 10 things I'll remember most from 2009.

  1. In  2009, I was amazed at the rate of advancement our customers achieved in genetic understanding and I'm excited about the impact these advancements could have on science, medicine and health. Whether it was research into the genetic link for autism, ADHD, diabetes, cancer or tropical diseases, each provides another piece of the puzzle and may one day unlock the mysteries of these and other diseases.  
  2. We expanded our product portfolio in 2009 and launched our first DNA collection product designed for non-humans. Oragene•ANIMAL was officially introduced to the market in June and very quickly had a major impact. The product has been used in international studies like the one designed to find the genetic cause of Chiari-like Malformation and syringomyelia in dogs and many others. We're already seeing published research that demonstrates its' effectiveness compared to blood and buccal swabs. This is an exciting start for a new product in a new market.
    UPDATE: Oragene⋅ANIMAL is no longer available, it has been replaced by PERFORMAgene
  3. In 2009, we saw some great new customers join the DNA Genotek family. The Oragene product was selected by Prometheus as the sample collection kit for MyCeliacID, the first saliva-based genetic test dedicated to celiac disease. We continued to increase the number of customers we have and to grow our product usage within existing customer accounts. 23andMe, for example, added a number of new traits and health conditions to their service (which uses our product for DNA collection). This is, by far, the best testament to our product quality, reliability and ease of use.
  4. I was astounded by the rate of growth of Genome Wide Association Studies (GWAS) in 2009. GWAS have contributed substantially to our understanding of disease and an increasing number of our customers are conducting GWAS. I look forward to the day that new and improved treatments and preventative measures are available based on the insights from these complex studies.
  5. In December of 2009, DNA Genotek was selected as a successful biotechnology company to be featured at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. Even though the Olympics are still more than a month away, I feel like we've already won our gold medal.
  6. The creation of the DNA Genotek Helping Hands Program was another highlight for me. We launched new Spit for the Cure events in association with Susan G. Komen for the Cure, participated with the Columbia University Family Studies in Epilepsy to collect DNA samples on site at the National Walk for Epilepsy, and donated compression bandages to treat podoconiosis in Ethiopia. The goal of the program is to help accelerate research and advance the fight against disease across the globe. The program is young, but I'm optimistic about its potential for success and its ability to help our customers improve health worldwide.
  7. We saw phenomenal progression in genome mapping in 2009. The genomes of the domestic horse, giant panda, cow, turkey, corn, the Irish potato famine pathogen, and the date palm were all mapped along with many others. What this will mean is uncertain but the knowledge is sure to contribute to scientific advancement. For example, the successful sequencing of the cow genome could lead to treatments for malaria and the development of a 'super cow' that thrives in harsh conditions. Genetic information about the date palm is extremely valuable to researchers who are working to improve fruit yield and quality and to better understand susceptibility and resistance to disease. I can't wait to see what's next.
  8. We created the DNA Genotek Partner Program late in 2009 and formalized the great relationships we have with so many institutions and partner companies. I look forward to even more growth in this area in 2010.
  9. This year, the impact of a non-invasive DNA collection method in genetic research and testing became abundantly clear. Most notably, Kaiser Permanente announced that they have collected more than 100,000 saliva samples for their Research Program on Genes, Environment and Health (RPGEH) with our product. Imagine how difficult this would have been if blood collection was required for the study. Perhaps it would have been impossible. Regardless, non-invasive collection methods are making new studies possible and we're very excited to be a part of this.
  10. Finally, I'm particularly proud of our employees and their attention to customers' needs. I watch them pull off small miracles on a daily basis - from driving through raging snowstorms to make sure a product gets to a customer on time, to impeccable attention to detail in our product customizations, to outstanding focus on quality. They do this because they believe in the work our customers are doing. They believe that one day, our products will ship to someone who will find a treatment or cure for a disease that impacts them, their family, or someone they know. Now that's motivation.

No article that includes a top 10 list for the year would be complete without mentioning New Year's resolutions. I considered all the usual New Year's resolutions both personally and for DNA Genotek. I even googled the top 10 most popular New Year's resolutions. None of them seemed appropriate. It really comes down to this -- for 2010, I resolve that we will increase our focus on product innovation so our customers continue to have the tools they need to make history by finding genetic links that can lead to a cure or new treatment for disease. Human genetics is incredibly complex, but equipped with the right tools, geneticists have a unique opportunity for unprecedented exploration into genetic links to disease. If we can do that, 2010 will be very successful for DNA Genotek.

I hope you enjoy the first of what I hope will become an annual Top 10 list. If you have ideas for our 2010 list or think I missed something that should be on our 2009 list, let us know. 

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