New knowledge, new market

Cogenics and the John Innes Centre have introduced a Brassica gene expression array.

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NEWTON, Mass.—A partnership between Cogenics, a division of Clinical Data Inc., and the Norwich, U.K.-based John Innes Centre (JIC) already is bearing fruit for its participants. The JIC is receiving gene expression and other genomics services from Cogenics that help boost its plant science and microbiology research.JIC and Cogenics revealed the first result of their collaboration—a custom Brassica gene expression microarray—Jan. 12 at the Plant and Animal Genome Conference in San Diego, Calif. The custom Brassica microarray was developed in conjunction with the J. Craig Venter Institute, and allows researchers to interrogate 91,854 transcribed sequences across multiple Brassica species.
"This enables the research community and the commercial community to contribute to the on-going development and optimization of the array design," says JIC's Helen Tunney. "As a charitable foundation, the John Innes Centre does not look to generate income directly from the microarrays, rather to facilitate rapid access to a new genomics resource. Cogenics as a 'for profit' service provider will look to generate revenues through the processing and bioinformatic analysis of data for both academic and commercial users."
As a result, Cogenics has opened up a new market opportunity by translating primary research data into a research tool of benefit to both commercial and academic sectors. Cogenics will continue to customize its services to help JIC achieve additional results of this type.
"Having access to high-quality, cost-effective technologies is a high priority for the John Innes Centre," says Ian Bancroft, project leader in the JIC Crop Genetics Department and head of the JIC Genome Laboratory. "Our partnership with Cogenics provides us with exci-ting opportunities to bring more advanced genomics technologies for plant and microbial research into the reach of the wider plant and microbial science community. We look forward to working with Cogenics on gene expression an-alysis and in other areas."
Paul Tomlin, director of European operations for Cogenics, says in a statement the Brassica microarray is an early example of what JIC and Cogenics are aiming to achieve through this partnership.
"The partnership goes beyond a purely transactional service model, highlighting the value of the unique, solutions-oriented approach that Cogenics delivers when matched with centers of excellence such as John Innes," he notes.
Through the effort between the partners, JIC has a number of core research programs in the area of Brassica genomics that will benefit.
"Currently, analysis of the transcriptome has been restricted to sample cDNA sequencing or use of an Arabidopsis microarray for interspecific hybridization," says Tunney. "The new microarray will allow transcript profiling to be focussed on true Brassica transcripts and will play a key role in the analysis of transcripts unique to specific Brassica species."
Tunney adds the expectation is that access to the new Brassica microarray will result in a rapid acceleration of trait analysis and crop improvement within the Brassicas.
"On the basis of the success of the interaction over the Brassica microarray we are at early stage discussions over bringing microarrays for other plant and microbial genomes into the public domain," Tunney says.


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