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Genomics alliance: Agencourt, Amplicon to co-market BAC library services
April 2005
by Randall C. Willis  |  Email the author


BEVERLY, Mass.—In an effort to become a one-stop-shop to clients, DNA sequencing specialist Agencourt Bioscience and genomic library producer Amplicon Express announced they formed a strategic marketing alliance. According to Dr. Lynn Doucette-Stamm, Agencourt's vice-president of business development, the companies will co-market a comprehensive suite of high-quality BAC library construction and sequencing services.
Agencourt has long served the biotech and pharmaceutical industries as a service organization, providing genomic sequencing and nucleic acid preparations kits and reagents. Amplicon, by comparison, is a small company based in Pullman, Washington that supplied clients with various genomic libraries, such as cDNA, shotgun and BAC or bacterial artificial chromosomes.
According to Robert Bogdan, Amplicon president, the decision to work with Agencourt was an easy one.
"We couldn't afford the large number of sequencing instruments needed to keep up with client demand, so we decided to look for a partner who could handle a large quantity of BAC sequencing," he says. "We looked at three criteria: highest quality, best turnaround, and lowest cost. Surprisingly, where we expected to find companies that could offer two of these criteria, Agencourt offered us all three."
For both companies, explains Bogdan, the alliance is a way to be open with clients by letting them know up front what platforms their BAC libraries are being developed and sequenced on.
By partnering with another company, Dr. Doucette-Stamm adds, both companies benefit from increased sales staff and improved marketability without the expense of increasing head count.
According to Bogdan, the market for BAC libraries is increasing, so being able to convince clients that the library is well constructed is critical.
"A BAC library is different from a cDNA library," Bogdan explains. "It transforms BAC into cells at much lower efficiency, so it was important that we introduce a quality control factor to ensure the fidelity of the library, something that a lone researcher would have trouble duplicating."
Also, because BAC libraries rely on genomic DNA rather than cDNA, which is synthesized from mRNA, they offer researchers a wider array of polymorphisms and alternative splicing examples to study.
"We developed a BAC library for the UCSF Cancer Center that involved multiple tumor types," Bogdan says. "The researchers previously had a lot of clinical knowledge about the samples, but because some of them were so precious, they had no way of working on them at the molecular level."
By developing BAC libraries, however, they can look for chromosomal abnormalities such as insertions or deletions, without worrying about losing precious sample, unlike a typical proteomics experiment that blows away all of your sample in one shot.
"Now, thousands of researchers can work on it; so in some ways, we are immortalizing highly valuable, rare samples," he adds.
While Dr. Doucette-Stamm won't rule out a future merger, she is clear that Agencourt wants to focus on what it does best and would rather partner with others to offer integrated genomics services. She and Bogdan both seem to think that this is the way to go.
Code: E040517



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