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Harvard s Proteomics Institute Seeks $100M for cDNA Repository

BOSTON, May 3 – Harvard’s Institute of Proteomics will seek to raise $100 million from private and public sources in a bid to develop a repository of full-length cDNA clones that would assist researchers in their efforts to study proteins, Joshua LaBaer, the director of the institute, said Thursday.

“Celera and a number of other companies are planning to do proteomics profiling. We’re looking to be able to produce proteins rather than study them,” said LaBaer following a talk at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. “We’d like to give everybody access to the clones.”

LaBaer said that on May 15 representatives from some of the biggest pharmaceutical companies and biotech firms as well as leaders of the publicly funded genomics effort would gather at Harvard to discuss his proposal for building the cDNA repository, a task he estimated would take three years to complete.

He noted that the project was particularly important since it would allow researchers to bypass the time consuming and costly task of developing the clones themselves, thus enabling scientists to speed up the study of proteins and ultimately develop new treatments faster.

Harvard’s proteomics institute has so far created 10,000 clones through its Full-Length Expression Ready, or FLEXGene, program that are now waiting to be validated. LaBaer said his facility could potentially assemble 500 clones per week, or 20,000 per year.

The institute uses Invitrogen’s Gateway recombinatorial cloning technology, which speeds up the process, compared with traditional cloning methods, and offers high rates of efficiency, LaBaer said. Gateway allows researchers to move a gene of interest from a master clone into an expression vector in about 45 minutes. Researchers can then use the vectors to develop functional assays.

Currently, the institute is also working on developing an Oracle-based database that it would be designed to allow researchers to look up any cDNA in the repository.

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