A step up for systems biology

Life Technologies partners with German Cancer Research Center to create world-class genome sequencing facility

Lloyd Dunlap
CARLSBAD, Calif.—Citing the astonishing statistic that itsSOLiD 4hq system can sequence 300 billion bases—equivalent to three completehuman genomes—in a single run, Life Technologies Corp. recently announced thatit will collaborate with the German Cancer Research Center (DeutschesKrebsforschungszentrum, or DKFZ) to create the National High-ThroughputSequencing Center.
 
Based on an ongoing relationship that began with predecessorcompanies Applied Biosystems and Invitrogen, this exclusive partnership willcreate the largest sequencing facility in Germany and the first nationalsequencing center in Europe dedicated to systems biology.
 
The center will operate 10 SOLiD 4 hq systems acquired byDKFZ and will initially sequence 1,000 whole human cancer genomes for Germany'snational contribution to the International Cancer Genome Consortium (ICGC).
 
 
Kent Davidson, who is Life Technologies' head of SOLiD inEurope, notes that his company will provide service, application andbioinformatics support in addition to the hardware, while DKFZ will beresponsible for biology. Previously, the center had outsourced sequencingprojects.
 
 
Pediatric brain cancer will be the first work to "crunchthrough," Davidson adds.
Life Technologies' Roland Wicki, director of marketdevelopment for Europe, expects the cost per genome to be in the $3,000 range.The facility will be partially funded by the German Federal Ministry ofEducation and Research.
 
 
"Life Technologies is proud to be the technology partner ofchoice for this new and exciting sequencing center and to be working with DKFZ,a renowned institution in Germany in life science research devoted to studyingthe complexities of human diseases like cancer," says Mark Stevenson, presidentand chief operating officer of Life Technologies. "This center will be thefirst facility that will systematically bring high-throughput sequencingtechnology into systems biology applications on a large scale."
 
Systems biology is the study of an organism as an integratedand interacting network of genes, proteins and biochemical reactions that giverise to life. Often, experiments in systems biology require precise measurementsof cellular events over time and assess changes in DNA sequence, RNAtranscription or genomic copy number. Because systems biology studies measureall changes in the cell—genomic, epigenomic and transgenomic—these experimentsrequire substantially more sequencing throughput than experiments that are notexamining such dynamic changes in cellular events.
 
"Our aim is to understand the dynamic complexity of cellularprocesses on both the DNA and RNA level and how slight perturbations of thosepathways contribute to the development of diseases like cancer," says ProfessorRoland Eils from DKFZ. "Therefore, it is of the utmost importance to be able toobtain quantitative, precise measurements. We are confident that thiscollaboration with Life Technologies will help us generate the highest qualitydata possible using the SOLiD technology."
 
 
The SOLiD System is used globally in experiments to betterunderstand the genetic nature of diseases such as cancer, diabetes,neurological disorders and other diseases. The renowned Max Planck Institute inBerlin is a customer and Sean Grimmonds' lab in Australia currently operates 11SOLiD systems.
 
Life Technologies had sales of $3.3 billion in 2009, employsapproximately 9,000 people, has a presence in approximately 160 countries andpossesses a rapidly growing intellectual property estate of approximately 3,900patents and exclusive licenses. Life Technologies was created by thecombination of Invitrogen and Applied Biosystems, and manufactures both invitro diagnostic products and research use only-labeledproducts.
 

Lloyd Dunlap

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