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OGT Hopes to Parlay Array Experience into Clinical Sequencing Services


By Justin Petrone

Oxford Gene Technology is adopting some of its microarray resources to meet the needs of clinicians using its targeted sequencing services to identify disease-causing mutations in patients.

CEO Mike Evans told BioArray News this week that the 16-year-old firm is relying on a number of skills it honed with microarrays to aid the clinical adoption of sequencing. The privately held Oxford, UK-based company introduced its Genefficiency targeted sequencing services earlier this year (BAN 5/31/2011). The services are marketed for research use only.

As a longtime array services provider, OGT has developed a team with "significant expertise across a broad range of scientific techniques," Evans said. "We have been able to apply this experience to the delivery of a high-quality targeted sequencing service."

While OGT has used its array background to win sequencing customers since it rolled out its service, the company is now also targeting clinicians who are interested in adopting the newer technology.

Evans this week listed the firm's experience with array sample preparation, its quality control processes, and its laboratory information management system as skills and tools that have been adopted for use in its sequencing services.

The company's probe design knowhow is also being moved into its sequencing enterprise. "Our experience of microarray probe design and our understanding of hybridization kinetics allow us to design custom capture probes which maximize uniformity of coverage, increasing the likelihood of discovery," said Evans.

"We study the thermodynamic properties of all selected bait probes in detail to deliver capture designs that perform well even in challenging regions of the genome," said Evans. "This increased capture efficiency reduces the sequencing depth required … reducing the overall cost of sequencing," he claimed.

The company is also trying to use its bioinformatics resources to carve out its place in the market. Evans noted that the company's informatics team has developed a sequencing analysis package that enables "rapid identification of affected genes with links to external databases to place each aberration into context."

The tool could help "researchers and clinicians to extract the relevant information they require from the large data sets produced using NGS," said Evans.

One customer in the clinical space is Bernd Wollnik of the Institute of Human Genetics at the University Hospital of Cologne, who has been using OGT's services to identify causative recessive mutations in patients with selected inherited disorders.

In the UK, OGT is taking part in a $10 million tumor profiling and data capture initiative, which the firm described as showing that it is "already perfectly positioned to provide NGS services to clinical decision makers."

OGT is also participating a project called, "Development of a fully integrated service for sequencing-based tumor profiling including data interpretation and commercialization of assay panel kit products," that is being carried out with other teams from the University of Southampton, the University of Birmingham, and CIS Healthcare (BAN 6/14/2011).

Have topics you'd like to see covered in BioArray News? Contact the editor a1t jpetrone [at] genomeweb [.] com.