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After Raising $8M, India's Ocimum to Invest in Array, Sequencing Services

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By Justin Petrone

Ocimum Biosolutions will use the proceeds of a recent fundraising round to expand its microarray services and add next-generation sequencing capabilities, according to its CEO.

Anuradha Acharya told BioArray News this week that the Hyderabad, India-based company will use the proceeds from the $8 million round to build out its "Research as a Service" platform. Investors in the new round came from multiple sources, including its founders and existing shareholders, she said.

The RaaS platform was designed to provide outsourcing of the entire genomics research workflow, from storage of biological samples to DNA- and RNA-based services, to biomarker validation. As part of the expansion, Acharya said that the company will add offerings to support clinical trial support services, biomarker discovery, and biobanking.

"Our clinical trial support services will be expanded to accommodate large-scale trials," Acharya said. In addition to Ocimum's sample management and storage, automated extraction process, and informatics support, Acharya said that "high-throughput genotyping technologies" will "feature highly" in the expanded service offerings.

She noted that the expansion will include microarray services, but said the firm is unlikely to invest in new array platforms. "In terms of technology, we already offer all the major platforms" including Affymetrix, Agilent Technologies, and Illumina, she noted. Ocimum also maintains its own gene expression microarray platform, called OciChip, that it mainly employs in projects that require custom designs (BAN 9/7/2010).

Because Ocimum already has built out its array offering, Acharya said the firm's next investment will be in the next-generation sequencing space. "Looking to the future, high-throughput third-generation DNA or RNA sequencing will become an important player in clinical genotyping," Acharya said. "We intend to access and develop our service offerings in that space." She did not elaborate.

Part of the recent financing will also go toward completion of a 360,000-square-foot facility, which will house Ocimum's GLP-compliant, genomic, and diagnostics laboratories, Acharya said. She said that the firm will "significantly expand our offering of validated genotyping assays" and will secure Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments certification to complement its current GLP qualified services.

Located in Hyderabad, the new Ocimum campus is spread across four acres and is scheduled to become operational in March 2011.

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