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Celera SNP and Haplotype Data May Mean Big Assay Business for ABI

NEW YORK, July 24 - Celera Genomics may be responsible for generating the genomic data that will fuel Applera's new $75 million initiative to reach commercial success, but its sister company Applied Biosystems will initially benefit the most from Celera's genome and SNP mapping activities, executives for the companies said Tuesday.

Speaking to investors and reporters during a conference call, executives with Applera, and its three companies Celera Genomics, ABI, and Celera Diagnostics, said that Celera's additional sequence, SNP, and haplotype data would first translate into ABI sales before benefiting its sibling companies.

The $75 million project, to which each Applera company would contribute equal funding, calls for Celera Genomics to sequence the genomes of an additional 40 to 50 individuals--in addition to the composite sequence of 5 individuals published in Science last February--and for ABI to use the resulting SNP and haplotype data to generate assays that researchers could use in genotyping and gene expression studies.

As Celera generates sequencing information, ABI plans to synthesize the primers and probes needed to create the assay sets, said Mike Hunkapiller, ABI's president. "With only a slight lag there will be a concurrent development of reagent assay sets while the sequencing is going on."

The market in reagents for such oligonucleotide-based assays, Applera and ABI executives said, is likely to exceed current revenue from sales of sequencing machines as scientists begin to undertake more and larger-scale genotyping experiments. 

"We figure that the ability of people to get useful information from studying a host of biological problems in a large number of individuals results in a much bigger experimental load that needs to be fed by a reagent stream, as well as instrument systems," said Hunkapiller. "We would see this as a really big opportunity for us."

Initially, Hunkapiller said, ABI would use its Sequence Detection Systems (SDS) platform as the foundation for these assays, but the company may also design DNA-based tests for its other platforms, including its sequencing-based units, which can run single-base extension reactions for SNP analysis, and its microarray-based platforms that the company is building separately with Illumina and 3M.

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