CARLSBAD, Calif.—Heidelberg, Germany-based febit holdingGmbH and Life Technologies Corp. in late September announced that they hadentered into a strategic co-marketing agreement to provide a new, scalablesolution for researchers conducting targeted resequencing studies.
This collaborative spirit also includes febit expanding itsgenomic services facility in Heidelberg by adding several SOLiD high-throughputsequencing 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 mightneed to be added.
Also as part of the agreement, febit has become a member ofboth the SOLiD System and TaqMan Service Provider Programs—both of which areintended to provide the scientific community with broad access to acomprehensive solution for genomic research using next-generation sequencing.
"In addition to collaborating on a new solution forresearchers, we will also be rolling out our instruments to the ABI customerbase," notes Peer Staehler, chief scientific officer of febit. "The timing isperfect because ABI recently came out with a new version of its extremelypowerful sequencing system and this is a technology that has formed thebackbone of human genome sequencing efforts."
But the big news, of course, is the new solution that thecompanies are working toward, and Staehler looks forward to the opportunity tocombine HybSelect with the SOLiD System.
"Our next-generation sequencing facility will take the leadin targeted sequencing of more than 1,000 samples per week," he notes. "Ourunique strength is the capability to go from tailor-made target sequencecapture to sequencing results in days, both for customers and our own internaldevelopment programs."
Stahler sees his company's technology as boosting an alreadypowerful system into even bolder territory, noting that the HybSelecttechnology is suited well to making super-sequencing technologies even morepowerful.
"ABI has a great sequencer and we have a great instrument tomake it even more powerful, especially for high-throughput applications,"Staehler explains. "What is also important to note is that while we areoffering a new solution and service, we can also advise and work with companiesthat want to set up their own operations to replicate what we have been able toachieve at febit. So this is more than just a product/service offering but alsosomething where we will be consulting with companies and helping them developtheir workflows based on our successes in that regard."
Although he couldn't name names, he says that febit has afew companies that have already approached it with strong interest in settingup systems in a manner similar to febit.
"The SOLiD System has greatly reduced the time, cost andeffort to perform genetic variation studies," says Shaf Yousaf, president ofgenomics analysis at Life Technologies. "The joint effort between LifeTechnologies and febit will close a gap for highly efficient and accurateresequencing of genomic loci that are possibly correlated with disease."
Large-scale studies to identify SNPs, mutations and newbiomarkers can be conducted now with many patient samples to receivestatistically relevant data, the companies note. This will, they believe, leadto a better understanding of the development, progression and prognosis ofcomplex diseases like cancer, Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis,infections and many others, ultimately resulting in new therapies anddiagnostics.
Among the key applications Life Technologies and febit foreseefor the combined system are the cancer exome, disease-related loci with highrelevance for healthcare and drug development purposes, and areas identifiedthrough genome-wide association studies.
Staehler sees particular potential for this collaboration inreaching the pharma and biotech companies.
"That sector has actually been rather slow to move intosequencing and re-sequencing efforts," he says. "Some 85 percent of theorganizations that have been doing this kind of work are in academia, but we areseeing a shift, and predict that the pharma sector will be very eager for thesekinds of technologies and service offerings soon."