A free, public database will be made available later this year.

Sigma Life Science’s SAGE Labs initiative is partnering with Cofactor Genomics to sequence genomes for six of the most widely used strains of rat. SAGE labs expects this collaboration will enable it to create improved models of human disease for the research community.

Cofactor Genomics will generate and analyze data using next-generation sequencing systems, while SAGE Labs will provide the samples and host a new, free public database in late 2011. The database will include exclusive genomic information and analysis tools.

Cofactor offers the Applied Biosystems SOLiD system and Solexa/Illumina technology and says that it can arrange for runs on the Roche/454 Titanium platform. Illumina’s Genome AnalyzerIIx, HiSeq 2000, HiSeq 1000, HiScanSQ, and MiSeq instruments are all based on Solexa technology. Cofactor uses commercial and proprietary analysis software.

“With the costs of whole-genome sequencing rapidly coming down, it is now far more feasible to understand the genomes of the most widely used model organisms such as the rat,” says Edward Weinstein, Ph.D., director of SAGE Labs. “Sigma Life Science and its SAGE Labs initiative plan to lead the way in revealing these new genomes and making the information publicly available.”

Currently, the Brown Norway is the only rat strain with a high-quality draft sequence available, Sigma and Cofactor note. It was completed by the Rat Genome Consortium in 2004 with funding from the NIH. The draft sequence showed that the rat shares nearly every gene implicated in human disease. 

Sigma Life Science is the biological product and service business of Sigma-Aldrich. Product areas include biomolecules, genomics and functional genomics, cells and cell-based assays, transgenics, protein assays, stem cell research, epigenetics, and custom services for oligonucleotides. Sigma Life Science also provides a range of bioessentials like biochemicals, antibiotics, buffers, carbohydrates, enzymes, forensic tools, hematology and histology, nucleotides, amino acids and their derivatives, and cell culture media.

In March 2010, Sigma-Aldrich padded its research rodent offerings through the purchase of Ace Animals. The acquired firm offers products and contract breeding services and operates as part of SAGE Labs. In December 2010, SAGE Labs reported the successful generation of knockin rats using its CompoZr® Zinc Finger Nuclease technology.

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