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A good match for sequencing
November 2009
by Jeffrey Bouley  |  Email the author


CARLSBAD, Calif.—Heidelberg, Germany-based febit holding GmbH and Life Technologies Corp. in late September announced that they had entered into a strategic co-marketing agreement to provide a new, scalable solution for researchers conducting targeted resequencing studies.  
This collaborative spirit also includes febit expanding its genomic services facility in Heidelberg by adding several SOLiD high-throughput sequencing systems and real-time PCR systems from Applied Biosystems (ABI), which is part of Life Technologies. Two SOLiD systems have been added so far, and febit will evaluate its workload next year to determine how many more might need to be added.  
Also as part of the agreement, febit has become a member of both the SOLiD System and TaqMan Service Provider Programs—both of which are intended to provide the scientific community with broad access to a comprehensive solution for genomic research using next-generation sequencing.  
"In addition to collaborating on a new solution for researchers, we will also be rolling out our instruments to the ABI customer base," notes Peer Staehler, chief scientific officer of febit. "The timing is perfect because ABI recently came out with a new version of its extremely powerful sequencing system and this is a technology that has formed the backbone of human genome sequencing efforts."  
But the big news, of course, is the new solution that the companies are working toward, and Staehler looks forward to the opportunity to combine HybSelect with the SOLiD System.  
"Our next-generation sequencing facility will take the lead in targeted sequencing of more than 1,000 samples per week," he notes. "Our unique strength is the capability to go from tailor-made target sequence capture to sequencing results in days, both for customers and our own internal development programs."
Stahler sees his company's technology as boosting an already powerful system into even bolder territory, noting that the HybSelect technology is suited well to making super-sequencing technologies even more powerful.  
"ABI has a great sequencer and we have a great instrument to make it even more powerful, especially for high-throughput applications," Staehler explains. "What is also important to note is that while we are offering a new solution and service, we can also advise and work with companies that want to set up their own operations to replicate what we have been able to achieve at febit. So this is more than just a product/service offering but also something where we will be consulting with companies and helping them develop their workflows based on our successes in that regard."  
Although he couldn't name names, he says that febit has a few companies that have already approached it with strong interest in setting up systems in a manner similar to febit.  
"The SOLiD System has greatly reduced the time, cost and effort to perform genetic variation studies," says Shaf Yousaf, president of genomics analysis at Life Technologies. "The joint effort between Life Technologies and febit will close a gap for highly efficient and accurate resequencing of genomic loci that are possibly correlated with disease." 
Large-scale studies to identify SNPs, mutations and new biomarkers can be conducted now with many patient samples to receive statistically relevant data, the companies note. This will, they believe, lead to a better understanding of the development, progression and prognosis of complex diseases like cancer, Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis, infections and many others, ultimately resulting in new therapies and diagnostics.   Among the key applications Life Technologies and febit foresee for the combined system are the cancer exome, disease-related loci with high relevance for healthcare and drug development purposes, and areas identified through genome-wide association studies. Staehler sees particular potential for this collaboration in reaching the pharma and biotech companies.
"That sector has actually been rather slow to move into sequencing and re-sequencing efforts," he says. "Some 85 percent of the organizations that have been doing this kind of work are in academia, but we are seeing a shift, and predict that the pharma sector will be very eager for these kinds of technologies and service offerings soon."
Code: E110916



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