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QIAGEN and GENEART Partner to Commercialize Synthetic Human Genes

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QIAGEN and GENEART have announced their collaboration to develop, produce and commercialize a new product line for the enhanced production of all 35,000 human proteins. QIAgenes is the world’s first comprehensive set of plasmids (small extra-chromosomal DNA molecules in bacteria) which serve as carriers (“vectors”) for modified (“optimized”) synthetic genes mapping the entire human genome. By using the QIAgenes set of plasmids and optimized genes for synthetic protein production in bacteria, academic and biomedical researchers, as well as biotech and pharmaceutical companies can more easily produce large amounts of proteins which play key roles in diseases such as cancer and their treatment. This new product line enables researchers to facilitate the development of new therapeutics and vaccines and accelerates future drug screening processes.

QIAgenes will be available starting May 19, 2008, through QIAGEN’s web portal GeneGlobe, which already hosts the world’s largest database of gene regulation and gene expression assays. The addition of synthetic genes is a synergistic extension of this offering, as the use of synthetic genes often follows the use of such assays. As part of the collaboration, additional variants of the synthetic genes, which are currently designed for E. coli bacteria only, are subject to future development.

The collaboration between QIAGEN and GENEART was initiated with a joint research and development project, for which GENEART provided plasmid and gene synthesis technologies and QIAGEN supplied automated sample technologies to purify the expressed proteins. In this first of a series of ongoing collaboration projects, scientists from both companies compared optimized and normal gene sequences of 100 different proteins from the five most common protein classes, thereby generating the most comprehensive validation study of its kind. The trial showed that QIAgenes solutions achieved very high success rates of more than 90% and yielded up to 50 times more protein than conventional methods using “normal” genes by providing optimized synthetic genes and purification methods.

“In the past, researchers faced a multiple bottleneck situation when producing protein in sufficient quantity and quality for their research. This often slowed down research on a protein’s structure and function or its pharmaceutical use”, said Dr. Kai te Kaat, Global Business Director Protein for QIAGEN. “The first hurdle was to obtain an accurate high quality plasmid construct of any gene of choice, and second to produce the protein in sufficient amounts in bacteria. With the new QIAgenes product portfolio provided on QIAGEN’s web portal geneglobe.com, our customers can now access the human proteome with a simple mouse click and significantly increase their successes expressing and purifying their protein of choice”, Dr. te Kaat added. “The collaboration with GENEART, the market leader for gene optimization and gene synthesis, will further advance protein analysis and adds significant new capabilities to and links between QIAGEN’s assay and proteomics portfolios.”

“It is a great pleasure for us to join forces with the world’s premium provider for sample and assay technologies,” said Prof. Ralf Wagner, CEO of GENEART. “QIAGEN’s leading technological and market capabilities in the DNA and RNA business, the global strength of its sales force as well as its logistic expertise make QIAGEN the best conceivable partner for commercialization of the next generation of expression plasmids encoding optimized human genes.” The market for synthetic DNA is currently estimated to be approximately US$ 80-100 million in revenues and to be growing by at least 30% per year.