The Jackson Laboratory, Athleticode announce partnership at Florida Biomedical Village

Date: August 18, 2010
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Bar Harbor, Maine, and Larkspur, Calif. -- The Jackson Laboratory (JAX) and Athleticode Inc. will explore the genetic basis of athletic injuries under an agreement announced today. Athleticode will be the first for-profit company to join the proposed Jackson Laboratory--Florida Biomedical Village in Collier County, working to establish both research and corporate facilities.

"Athleticode will be a terrific addition to the Biomedical Village," commented Charles E. Hewett, Ph.D., vice president and COO of The Jackson Laboratory. "They are a young, start-up company with vision and great promise, and they're truly enthusiastic about establishing a major business here. Their entrepreneurial spirit is just what we need to help make the Village a success."

"We expect more companies to join us in the near future," said Hewett. "We are definitely gaining momentum." The University of South Florida and Edison State College have also announced plans to locate in the Village.

Athleticode currently offers genetic testing to identify risks for certain athletic injuries and training programs to reduce these risks. "We know that there are gene variants, or codes, that are associated with susceptibility to certain kinds of athletic injuries, including anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) rupture and Achilles tendinopathy," said James J. Kovach, M.D., J.D., president and co-founder of Athleticode. "We know that 'pre-habilitation' training programs can reduce the risks for these injuries. And we now know that there is at least one code that appears to affect the long-term consequences of head trauma and concussion. Our partnership with JAX will help us explore the relationships between genes and injuries."

Athleticode's interest in Collier County is based on the Laboratory's scientific reputation and track record, and also on the substantial population of athletes in Florida. "There are 20 million athletes competing in the world today, and we spend nearly $50 billion each year treating athletic injuries. Our company will build a database incorporating the genetic profiles of 10,000 athletes of all ages and skill levels, and Florida is a great place to accomplish that goal." Kovach said that this genetic database will be used to discover new indicators of genetic predisposition to injury. "We intend to use this research to model athletic injury, such as repetitive head injury, as well as to understand how genetics shapes propensity to injury and responses to alternative therapies."

The Jackson Laboratory is proposing the creation of a research institute in Collier County that will create an epicenter of medical research, teaching, practice and commercialization in a new field called personalized medicine. This technological advance will use powerful new tools, such as whole genome sequencing, that can provide a detailed understanding of an individual's unique genetic makeup. Based on this information, new treatments can be developed and physicians will be able to guide an individual's healthcare based on his or her specific genetic composition. Increased wellness, improved treatment and decreased costs are anticipated results. PriceWaterhouseCoopers reports that personalized medicine is a $232 billion industry that will nearly double to $450 billion by 2015.

The Jackson Laboratory--Florida will be the catalyst for a 700-acre commercial, academic and research campus--a Biomedical Village--that will function as a live-learn-work-create community. The Village is expected to include pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical supply companies; a teaching hospital and specialized clinics; a university extension and science and math high school; and support businesses.

"The Economic Development Council of Collier County also will be critical to our partnership with Athleticode," Hewett said. "We will look to them for assistance in permitting, connecting with local companies and other important issues. We are grateful to have their assistance."

The Jackson Laboratory is an independent, nonprofit biomedical research institution and National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center with 1,300 employees in Bar Harbor, Maine, and Sacramento, Calif. Its mission is to discover the genetic basis for preventing, treating and curing human diseases, and to enable research and education for the global biomedical community. Its research staff investigates the genetic basis of cancers, heart disease, osteoporosis, Alzheimer's disease, glaucoma, diabetes and many other human diseases and disorders, as well as normal development, reproduction and aging.

Athleticode provides personalized genetic testing to allow athletes to implement pre-habilitation training to reduce injury and enhance performance. By serving as a DNA repository and collecting longitudinal data from athletes, Athleticode will revolutionize sports through the development of proprietary strategies to enhance athlete safety and performance. The company was founded by former NFL players and the Director of the Duke University Institute for Genomic Sciences and Policy.

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Contact(s): Mike Hyde, 207-288-6049
Dale A. Carlson, 415-310-8616

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Media Relations, Communications Office
The Jackson Laboratory
600 Main Street
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Phone: 207-288-6058 (journalists only)
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Email: news@jax.org