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Source Bioscience Focuses on Informatics Infrastructure to Expand International Footprint

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Source BioScience, a UK-based genomic service provider, is focusing its R&D resources on informatics development in an effort to expand its business into the global market.

In its half-year financial report, released last week, the company said that it is currently in the third phase of development of GenomeCube, its web-based repository of genomic products and annotations.

The company said its development efforts in this phase — which began earlier this year — have been focused on “enhancing the functionality of the platform and enabling its rollout across an international distributor network.”

Phases I and II of this effort focused on combining resources from two businesses acquired by Source BioScience to create GenomeCube, Nick Leaves, the company’s chief operating officer, told BioInform this week.

These were Geneservice, acquired in 2007, which sold genomic products such as cDNA and RNAi resources as well as open reading frame clones, using a web-based tool called CloneHunter; and ImaGenes, acquired in 2010, whose GenomeCube system pulled in annotations from public resources such as PubMed and databases managed by the National Center for Biotechnology Information.

“We’ve put together our collections of products, kept the name GenomeCube and kept the functionality that was good from those products,” Leaves explained.

The combined resource offers online access to more than 20 million annotated clones and over 100,000 antibodies from human, model organisms, and plants. Users can search for products based on gene symbol, accession number, clone name, or simply type in free text.

Primary GenomeCube users are academic researchers who are involved in genomics and proteomics research projects and mostly based in Western Europe and the US, Leaves said.

GenomeCube appears to be doing quite well in those markets. According to Source Bioscience’s financials, GenomeCube drove a 50 percent increase in internet orders for the company’s products year over year.

Moving forward, Source BioScience will focus on increasing its footprint in Asia and other eastern markets, Leaves said.

To that end, when phase III wraps up, Source BioScience intends to have in place “the operational and commercial infrastructure to drive the globalization of our products business” and “to establish a network of distributors across Asia, representing an international expansion opportunity that has previously been limited,” the company said in a statement.

As part of those efforts, the company has appointed local distributors in Japan and South Korea to provide customers in those regions with faster access to its libraries.

In addition to GenomeCube, Source BioScience also offers a next-generation sequencing service based on the Illumina HiSeq; and a bioinformatics team that handles data analysis using software provided by Illumina as well as commercial offerings from companies like CLC Bio, Leaves told BioInform. The company also recently announced that it now offers sequencing services on the Illumina MiSeq instrument (IS 7/3/2012).

In an effort not to compete with services provided by groups like BGI and Complete Genomics, Leaves said that the company offers its sequencing and data analysis resources to customers who require very detailed help with their projects from start to finish including things like experiment design and bespoke data analysis.

Pricing for the sequencing and analysis service varies depending on each project’s requirements, he said.

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