A major breakthrough in Québec - Héma-Québec announces the first database of 22,000 genotyped donors - that will facilitate the finding of compatible blood for many patients

    Génome Québec contributes its leading-edge genomics expertise to this
    concrete application that will help save lives

    MONTREAL, Dec. 18 /CNW Telbec/ - Dr. Francine Décary, President and Chief
Executive Officer of Héma-Québec, and Mr. Paul L'Archevêque, President and CEO
of Génome Québec, today announced the creation at Héma-Québec of a permanent
database of 22,000 donors genotyped for several blood groups in order to
facilitate secure transfusions for patients in Québec. This database will help
in locating compatible blood more easily for patients in need of a transfusion
of a specific blood profile.
    "Héma-Québec is proud to offer Quebecers this new tool of international
calibre. We have been looking at genotyping since 2000. Working with Génome
Québec enabled us develop this technology much more quickly by acceding to
extensive expertise in high throughput automated genotyping and to the
necessary equipment. These tests are the concrete outcome of a project made
possible by our researchers and the tremendous commitment of all our blood
donors, volunteers and partners who contributed to the creation of a tool that
will greatly facilitate more than 5,000 transfusions done each year for
patients for whom the transfusion process is difficult," said Dr. Francine
Décary, President and Chief Executive Officer of Héma-Québec.
    "Génome Québec is delighted of this collaborative effort with
Héma-Québec. This agreement is the direct result of the model created by
Génome Québec that involves bringing together ultra-sophisticated equipment
and technical teams on platforms that are open to everyone. Héma-Québec
researchers' use of the expertise of the Génome Québec & Montreal Heart
Institute Pharmacogenomics Centre maximizes the benefits of investment in
genomics and gives rise to concrete applications that will serve immediately
to improve the health of the Québec population," said Mr. Paul L'Archevêque,
President and Chief Executive Officer of Génome Québec.
    The teams of Dr. Michael Phillips, a researcher at Génome Québec &
Montreal Heart Institute Pharmacogenomics Centre, worked with the team of
Dr. Maryse St-Louis and Dr. Réal Lemieux, researchers at Héma-Québec, to
develop this unique automated genotyping platform. Today's announcement
reflects Québec's leadership in blood group genotyping. Many organizations
around the world, particularly in the United States and Europe, are working on
developing similar technologies to create blood donor databases. Already, the
expertise and know-how of Génome Québec and that of Héma-Québec have served to
directly detect the 16 specific genes responsible for the presence of 16
antigens on the surface of red blood cells. This discovery was the subject of
an article in the prestigious journal Transfusion in 2006.
    This technological breakthrough is important. Blood transfusions are
crucial in treating a wide variety of diseases. However, in certain cases,
especially those where patients undergo frequent transfusions, the body may
react against certain red blood cell groups that are transfused by producing
antibodies, which complicates subsequent transfusions. When such a situation
arises, hospital blood banks often contact Héma-Québec with emergency orders
for red blood cells that do not have these blood groups.


    Created in 1998, Héma-Québec is an organization whose mission is to
efficiently provide adequate quantities of safe, optimal blood components,
substitutes, human tissues and cord blood to meet the needs of all Quebecers;
provide and develop expertise along with specialized and innovative services
and products in the fields of transfusion medicine and human tissue
transplantation. Héma-Québec is some 290,000 blood donors each year,
16,000 volunteer partners, 1,300 employees and some 457,000 blood products
delivered each year to Québec hospitals to meet patients' needs. Give blood.
Give life. For more information about Héma-Québec and blood donation, visit
the Web site at www.hema-quebec.qc.ca.


    The mission of Génome Québec is to mobilize academic and industrial
sectors with regard to genomics and proteomics research. This private
non-profit organization invests and manages funds totalling over $380 million
from both the private and public sectors. Génome Québec currently manages
projects in six major sectors: human health, bioinformatics, ethics, the
environment, and forestry and agricultural sciences. To find out more about
Génome Québec and genomics, visit its Web site at www.genomequebec.com.

For further information:

For further information: Huguette Marcotte Communications: Huguette
Marcotte, (514) 951-0288; Pierre Chaurest, (514) 290-3148, (450) 434-2352;
Héma-Québec: Valérie Legault, (514) 832-0871; Génome Québec: Louise Thibault,
(514) 398-0668

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