QIAGEN and GENEART Partner to Commercialize Synthetic Human Genes
Joint development and collaboration enables enhanced production of every human protein, spurring advances in drug development
Venlo, The Netherlands --- May 14, 2008 - QIAGEN (Nasdaq: QGEN; Frankfurt, Prime Standard: QIA) and GENEART (Frankfurt, Entry Standard, G6A) 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.
QIAGEN N.V., a Netherlands holding company, is the leading global provider of sample and assay technologies. Sample technologies are used to isolate and process DNA, RNA and proteins from biological samples such as blood or tissue. Assay technologies are used to make such isolated biomolecules visible. QIAGEN has developed and markets more than 500 consumable products as well as automated solutions for such consumables. The company provides its products to molecular diagnostics laboratories, academic researchers, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, and applied testing customers for purposes such as forensics, animal or food testing and pharmaceutical process control. QIAGEN's assay technologies include one of the broadest panels of molecular diagnostic tests available worldwide. This panel includes the only FDA-approved test for human papillomavirus (HPV), the primary cause of cervical cancer. QIAGEN employs more than 2,700 people in over 30 locations worldwide. Further information about QIAGEN can be found at www.qiagen.com.
In 2000, GENEART entered the gene synthesis market and has since become the global market leader. Today, the company is one of the leading specialists in the synthetic biology field. Experts at GENEART provide key technologies for the development and production of new therapeutics and vaccines. Customers also take advantage of GENEART services to customize enzyme attributes, such as the attributes of enzymes used as detergent additives, and to construct bacteria, which produce complex biopolymers or break down polymers, such as synthetics, petroleum components, etc. Our production and service spectrum spans a wide range, from the production of synthetic genes according to DIN EN ISO 9001-2000, to the creation of gene libraries in the combinatorial biology, to the development and production of DNA-based biologically active substances. The GENEART AG in Regensburg (Germany) and the subsidiary GENEART Inc. in Toronto (Canada) employ more than 190 people. Since May 2006, GENEART is listed on the German Stock Exchange.
Certain of the statements contained in this news release may be considered forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the U.S. Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the U.S. Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. To the extent that any of the statements contained herein relating to QIAGEN's products, markets, strategy or operating results are forward-looking, such statements are based on current expectations that involve a number of uncertainties and risks. Such uncertainties and risks include, but are not limited to, risks associated with management of growth and international operations (including the effects of currency fluctuations and risks of dependency on logistics), variability of operating results, the commercial development of the applied testing markets, clinical research markets and proteomics markets, women's health/HPV testing markets, nucleic acid-based molecular diagnostics market, and genetic vaccination and gene therapy markets, changing relationships with customers, suppliers and strategic partners, competition, rapid or unexpected changes in technologies, fluctuations in demand for QIAGEN's, products (including fluctuations due to the level and timing of customers' funding, budgets, and other factors), our ability to obtain regulatory approval of our infectious disease panels, difficulties in successfully adapting QIAGEN's products to integrated solutions and producing such products, the ability of QIAGEN to identify and develop new products and to differentiate its products from competitors' products, market acceptance of QIAGEN's new products and the integration of acquired technologies and businesses. For further information, refer to the discussions in reports that QIAGEN has filed with, or furnished to, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
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