March 7, 2002
Andreas Braun, M.D., Ph.D.
Chief Medical Officer
Taking Aim at Polymorphisms
What is the history of your organization’s involvement in life sciences?
Braun: The company was founded in 1994 by Hubert Köster and Charles Cantor, two scientists with extraordinary vision. Our mission was to revolutionize DNA analysis in terms of quality and speed using a chip-based mass spectrometry approach. This vision is now a reality, and as a result we are the market leader in the emerging field of investigating human genetic variability. Since late 1999 we have been selling a high-throughput device called the MassARRAY system that is complemented by the world’s largest reagent set for single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) analysis.
What is your vision for the future development of the life sciences market?
Braun: The completion of the human genome project and the discovery of millions of SNPs in combination with our MassARRAY technology enable us to quickly validate human genetic variation against all common human disease traits. This validation process will give us new insights into the molecular context of disease and consequently will allow us to develop novel products that will be used to causatively treat patients—and more importantly, to prevent disease, which means extending the productive life span of humans.
What organizational assets have you developed to serve this community?
Braun: Our key assets are the powerful MassARRAY system as well as the almost 400,000 reagent sets to score polymorphic sites encompassing the entire human genome. In addition, a few years ago we established a sample collection network for healthy and diseased individuals, which have been recently complemented by the acquisition of Gemini Genomics. Today we have access to a unique set of almost 50,000 well-characterized samples covering common human disorders such as frequent cancers, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, osteoporosis, etc. This is one of the largest collections for genetics discovery.
What products and services does your company currently provide to the life sciences market?
Braun: We offer an enabling technology for SNP analysis including all necessary reagents and consumables to run this technology. We also offer access to this technology via a high-value service to validate human genetic variability. So far, Incyte Genomics and GlaxoSmithKline are our premier clients for large-scale validation.
Next year, we will launch a resequencing product for our MassARRAY system that will dramatically enhance the discovery of new polymorphisms. Currently conducted association studies to evaluate genotype/phenotype correlations will bring an enormous demand for partial resequencing of the human genome many times. We will also offer our validated SNP assay information and additional content through a Web-based database.
Our newly formed pharmaceutical division will offer R&D collaboration opportunities in discovery of disease related genetic information using our well-characterized sample sets as well as high value candidate disease genes we have already discovered and further validated.
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