SAGE Labs, Cofactor Genomics partner to sequence genomes for six widely used rat strains

Sigma Life Science, the innovative biological products and services business of Sigma-Aldrich® (Nasdaq: SIAL), today announced that its SAGE Labs initiative has partnered with Cofactor Genomics in an effort to sequence genomes for six of the most widely used strains of rat.  As part of the agreement, Cofactor Genomics plans to generate and analyze sequence data using next generation sequencing systems, while SAGE Labs plans to provide the samples and to host a new, free public database at sageresearchmodels.com in late 2011.  The database will include exclusive genomic information and analysis tools.

Currently, the Brown Norway is the only rat strain with a high quality draft sequence available.  It was completed by the Rat Genome Consortium in 2004 with funding from the NIH.  The draft sequence showed the rat shares nearly every gene implicated in human disease.  However, since then, little work has been done, with the last update occurring in November of 2004.

The additional genome sequence provided by SAGE Labs and Cofactor Genomics should enable SAGE Labs to create improved models of human disease for the research community, while helping researchers to better pinpoint the crucial areas of biological difference between rats and humans.  The creation of a new, public rat strain database could provide a quantum leap forward for better understanding the genetic basis of disease in humans.

Dr. Edward Weinstein, Director of SAGE Labs at Sigma Life Science, said, "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.  Sigma Life Science and its SAGE Labs initiative plan to lead the way in revealing these new genomes and making the information publically available."

"This project and collaboration leverages Cofactor's experimental design and analysis expertise to develop a global resource aimed at scientific discovery," said Jon Armstrong, Chief Operating Officer of Cofactor Genomics.

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