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MCW working with firm to provide gene-sequencing for treating rare diseases


MILWAUKEE (WTAQ) - The Medical College of Wisconsin will work with a company to provide gene-sequencing for one of its products, with the goal of creating new treatments for extremely rare diseases.

The school has signed a collaboration agreement with Transgenomic Incorporated.

It’s the first time the Milwaukee medical school has directly helped out with a commercial venture. Transgenomic provides tests that help doctors study 448 genes in rare conditions known as “mitochondrial” disorders.

Up to 4,000 American babies are born with those disorders each year.

Financial terms of the Medical College venture were not disclosed. But center director Howard Jacob said it could lead to other collaborative projects involving DNA sequencing – in which machines determine the exact orders of chemical base pairs within a gene.

Jacob’s team at the Medical College developed the ground-breaking genetic sequencing that cured young Nic Volker of Monona of a mysterious disease two years ago. Until the procedure, Nic had a problem which created holes in an intestine as the result of his eating.

The genetic sequencing allowed doctors at the Medical College and Milwaukee Children’s Hospital to create a treatment. It was a successful cord-blood transplant – and the boy’s holes have not come back.