Making good on integration plans announced last year with its informatics acquisitions, Qiagen said this week that it has updated its GeneGlobe solution, a web portal that offers access to biological assay kits and products, to include curated biological data from the proprietary knowledgebase it acquired when it bought Ingenuity Systems last year.
Qiagen announced its plans for this particular product integration when it bought Ingenuity — now called Qiagen Redwood City — last May. At the time, the company said that it would incorporate content from the Ingenuity knowledgebase into a curated database that it sells with wet lab assays that are offered through GeneGlobe. The portal lets users search and select appropriate assays and reagents from more than 31 million PCR assay kits and NGS assay panel products that target multiple genes and pathways. It includes assays for biomarker studies as well as disease research focused on conditions such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, central nervous system disorders, and more.
The updated version of GeneGlobe now incorporates curated content from the Ingenuity knowledgebase through Ingenuity Target Explorer, a bioinformatics application that was developed to pull biological information from Ingenuity's database — in response to research queries — through "self-contained [user interface] components" called widgets, according to a white paper published by Ingenuity. The white paper explains that these widgets can be embedded in webpages to provide "search and discovery capabilities that help scientists find targets, gain biological insights, access corporate documents such as target safety reports, and find third-party reagents."
Merging both products is intended to provide a "one stop solution" that enables customers to search for assays and biological information and to make connections between the two resources, Vikram Devgan, Qiagen's head of biological research content, told BioInform. Linking the systems gives GeneGlobe users access to information on their genes of interest including details on features such as molecular function, cellular localization, and relevant publications. They can also access a listing of the genes or molecules that impact their targets of interest along with supporting evidence for the interactions. Finally, they can explore the genes and molecules that they are studying in the context of relevant biological processes, which could help them better define their experiments.
Furthermore, Qiagen is hoping that being able to access more in-depth, curated information on genes and pathways will be an attractive addition that will help the company secure new customers for its assays and kits, Devgan added. In a separate effort that's also aimed at wooing new customers, last October Qiagen began offering free use of Ingenuity Variant Analysis software under the umbrella of the Empowered Genome Community, an initiative it launched to provide individuals who've had their genomes sequenced with a secure collaborative environment within which to interpret and share their data.
Qiagen purchased Ingenuity — and later CLC Bio for $68.2 million according to its 2013 annual report — in order to be able to offer a complete informatics portfolio for the next-generation sequencing market, one that supports raw sequence analysis though to variant interpretation and reports. At an analyst meeting held shortly after it announced the CLC Bio acquisition, the company said it would bundle products from both companies into a workflow that would be optimized for its GeneReader benchtop sequencer. The company also said at the same meeting it would continue developing and testing a new variant analysis solutions that would support NGS-based clinical testing and reporting — Ingenuity had begun working on the software prior to being bought.