Going boldly into the transcriptome

Ocimum partners with Jivan to provide sequencing-based transcriptome profiling services

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HYDERABAD, India—Ocimum Biosolutions, a self-described leading global integrated genomics company, announced May 4 that it has partnered with Larkspur, Calif.-based Jivan Biologics to provide sequencing-based transcriptome profiling services.

This partnership marks Ocimum's entry into the RNA-based services market, with an eye focused in particular on transcriptome profiling, leveraging Jivan Biologics' bioinformatics infrastructure, experience and technology. Specific financial details were not revealed, but Ocimum and Jivan will jointly provide services in the area of exon mutation studies, splice studies, digital gene expression and "other novel events."

The companies say that high-throughput analysis of transcriptome profiles has become a standard tool in clinical research and that the concept has been applied mostly in the study of cancer in an effort to deduce patterns of gene expression that predict tumor progression and facilitate risk stratification of patients at an early stage of the disease.

"We see this partnership as an opportunity to advance the use and value derived from our BioIT services throughout the research community," says Anu Acharya, chairperson and CEO of Ocimum. "Combining Ocimum's expertise in the genomics arena with Jivan's strengths in RNA sequencing and expression will empower the research community in getting better insights into gene expression studies."

The announcement dovetails closely with Jivan's announcement a month earlier that it would begin a focus on providing bioinformatics solutions for high-throughput transcriptome sequencing and expression.

"Jivan is uniquely situated to address the informatics challenges of transcriptome sequencing," says Dr. Subha Srinivasan, CEO of Jivan, noting that by leveraging Jivan's industry-leading bioinformatics infrastructure for analysis of mRNA in biological samples and provide bioinformatics for the next generation. "Our mRNA sequence databases, software infrastructure, oligonucleotide design capabilities and expression analysis software give us a tremendous advantage in developing solutions for RNA sequencing."

The ultimate goal of the Ocimum-Jivan partnership is to be able to analyze transcriptome profiles in individual tumor samples and to use this information to tailor therapies.

"As sequencing costs drop, transcriptome sequencing is expected to replace microarrays for measuring gene/transcript expression and exome sequencing for identifying disease specific coding mutations," Srinivasan notes. "This partnership will enable Jivan to leverage Ocimum's global market reach and successful BioIT services to market its mature transcriptome profiling technologies and services using NextGen RNA sequencing."

Looking more broadly at Ocimum's own strategic goals, the company's vision is to be a leading integrated global genomics outsourcing partner by eliminating the need for an internal "genomics infrastructure." Acharya indicates they will do this by integrating bioresearch design and execution; data analytics and insights; and laboratory, sample and data management into a seamless research as a service (RaaS) model.

Ocimum's RaaS offering integrates a technology platform of data management with analytics and services so that services can be provided on demand in a networked environment of pharmas, biotechs, academics and contract research organizations.

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