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Celera Bolsters CDS Content with Full-Length Clones in AlphaGene Distribution Agreement

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In the latest of a series of partnerships to expand the capabilities of its subscription database, Celera Genomics is teaming with AlphaGene of Woburn, Mass., to distribute AlphaGene’s collection of human full-length gene clones through the Celera Discovery System.

Under the terms of the agreement, AlphaGene will isolate known clones in the public domain and Celera will map the clone sequences to its assembled human genome database. CDS subscribers will be able to order specific clones through the Celera website, and AlphaGene will fully sequence and manufacture them.

The clones are expected to be available through CDS in the first quarter of 2002.

Celera and AlphaGene will share revenue in the marketing effort. Further financial details of the agreement were not disclosed.

The move is in line with a number of deals Celera has entered in the last two months to beef up the CDS service. The company most recently partnered with Inpharmatica to add structural and functional data to its genomic content. In October Celera entered a marketing and distribution agreement for the ModBase protein structure database from Structural GenomiX, and signed a non-exclusive license for Virtual Genetics’ Virtual Adapt bioinformatics text mining technology for use in CDS.

The AlphaGene deal, however, is the first to provide CDS subscribers with anything but data through the website. The clones are in the public domain, so neither Celera nor AlphaGene stands to benefit from IP-based revenues. However, the new capability does bring Celera’s offering one step closer to that of its primary rival in the genomic data market, Incyte, whose LifeSeq database offers proprietary clones as well as genomic data.

Peter Schad, CSO of AlphaGene, said that his company’s clones differ from Incyte’s because “we’re providing full-length clones.” AlphaGene uses its proprietary Flex technology to produce full-length gene libraries of known and novel clones, he said.

While only publicly available clones are covered under the current distribution agreement, Schad said that future plans might involve making AlphaGene’s proprietary clones available through the CDS as well.

“Over time I hope to broaden the deal to include many of the unknown and novel genes that we have with the Celera project,” Schad said, noting that the companies chose to keep the deal “simple” for now to avoid complicated IP issues that would arise over proprietary genes.

Schad described the current deal as “an experiment” to determine the market demand for clones.

— BT

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