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Life Tech Becomes Partner in Saudi Human Genome Program, International Barcode of Life Project

NEW YORK, GenomeWeb − Life Technologies has become a partner in two research projects, the Saudi Human Genome Program and the International Barcode of Life (iBOL) project, the company said this week. The projects will employ the firm's Ion Proton, capillary electrophoresis, and PGM sequencing technologies.

The goal of the Saudi Human Genome Project, led by Saudi Arabia's national funding agency, the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST), is to study the genetic basis of disease in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East.

Over the next five years, the project aims to sequence 100,000 genomes from individuals from the region using Life Tech's Ion Proton technology. Sequencing will be initially conducted at 10 genome centers across Saudi Arabia, with five additional centers to be created in the future.

Life Tech will design and equip the centers, and provide "end-to-end solutions" and services for operations and informatics. Integrated Gulf Biosystems, Life Tech's distributor in the Middle East, said it played a "pivotal role" in bringing Life Tech's technology to KACST.

Results from the project will be used to build a Saudi-specific database, providing the basis for future personalized medicine in the Kingdom. Specifically, the information is expected to help with premarital and prenatal screening for rare genetic diseases, as well as for population studies.

In a separate announcement, Life Tech said that it has also partnered with the Canadian Centre for DNA Barcoding for the iBOL project, a biodiversity study that aims to genetically catalog 500,000 species by late 2015 and 5 million in total.

Project researchers will use Life Tech's capillary electrophoresis sequencers to generate species-specific genetic barcodes, which will be deposited in a reference library called Barcode of Life Data System. The partnership will focus on a project to study insects around the world and another one to study biodiversity patterns in Central and South America.

In addition, Life Tech and the center will work on developing metagenomic barcoding applications using the PGM sequencer.