Putting their ChIPs on the table

Illumina, Genpathway team up to offer whole-genome ChIP sequencing services

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SAN DIEGO—In what company officials deem the first cell-sample-to-fully-analyzed-data service of its kind, Illumina Inc. and Genpathway Inc. announced a partnership that will provide researchers with whole-genome chromatin immunoprecipitation(ChIP) sequencing services, leveraging competencies of each company.
"This is the only commercial service available of this kind," says Ben Monderer, CEO of Genpathaway. "It is based on both companies' expertise in ChIP, sequencing and data analysis with proven high-quality technologies. Customers provide us with the samples and we provide a full service, sending fully analyzed results in six to 10 weeks."

Specifically, the service starts with consultation with clients who then provide their samples to Genpathway which then processes the samples using ChIP according to the assays developed with the clients. This is followed by sequencing using the 1G Genome Analyzer from Illumina. Once the sequencing has been completed, Illumina passes its sequencing information back to Genpathway which provides the final and complete data analysis.

At its heart, the combined offering aims to simplify a process that is time-consuming, exacting and rife with the potential for data errors.

"One of the top applications for sequencing is ChIP, a notoriously time-consuming and difficult procedure. Combining Genpathway's expertise in ChIP and data analysis services with Illumina's high-throughput, next-generation sequencing technology and services provides researchers a faster path to discovery," says Mary Harper, Ph.D., CSO of Genpathway.

"If customers tried to set this up internally and do this all themselves, it could take them the better part of a year to do it," Monderer notes. "And even then they might not get the quality data they need."

There was no specific meeting of the minds in terms of how the deal began, Monderer notes. Rather, the two companies have maintained regular contact in an effort to be open to opportunities such as this partnership.

The path to the relationship was most likely set in motion in late 2006, when Illumina acquired sequencing specialist Solexa in a stock-for-stock deal valued then at roughly $600 million. The centerpiece of that deal was the 1G Genome Analyzer, a synthesis-by-sequencing technology that is Illumina's key part of the puzzle in the current combined service.

In terms of coming to market, Illumina and Genpathway sales forces will make joint presentations to companies that detail what each brings to the table. While the research pathway is integrated, it is not a joint venture, so customers will pay each company separately for the exact services provided based on their specific research needs.

Outreach to the research market will be in the form of joint presentations at life sciences conferences, as well as a number of publications and posters detailing the results of specific research using the ChIP sequencing services.

Target markets for services are nearly as broad as the biotech market itself, as Monderer expects customers will be academic researchers, big pharma and biotech companies and everyone in between. DDN

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