HAMBURG, Germany - The genome research and pharmacogenomics company GenProfile AG last week announced the launch of two collaborations to develop and evaluate novel DNA analysis tools. Financial details were not disclosed.

With PE Biosystems, of Foster City, Calif., the Berlin-based company will test a high-throughput capillary sequencing system suited for SNP analysis.

"We have been chosen by PE as one of a few test sites to evaluate PE's new 3700 capillary sequencer, which is not yet on the market," Rolf Zettl, founder and member of GenProfile's executive board, told BioWorld Interna tional. "We will analyze blood samples of patients to identify SNPs that are associated with genetic risk factors or that otherwise contribute to the disease." He said the evaluation would focus on obesity, already a focus at GenProfile.

In addition, GenProfile will cooperate with the Berlin-based Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics to integrate a novel SNP analysis technique developed by the institute into the company's high-throughput DNA analysis system. "The MPI has devised a method by which we can sequence small pieces of genes using mass spectrometry," Zettl said. "Compared to classical mass spectrometry methods, in which a primer will be extended to identify a certain type of SNP, the novel method is suitable for the de novo identification and sequencing of SNPs. So while in other methods only SNPs already known can be identified in a patient's probe, the new method will be able to identify additional SNPs, and this extra information gives us an advantage. Besides, it will be cheaper than already existing SNP analysis methods."

Zettl added that GenProfile had obtained an exclusive license to use the technology and would adapt and automate the method. The collaboration is part of a project GenProfile submitted to the BioChance competition sponsored by the German federal research ministry, in which the company was chosen as one of six winners last year. (See BioWorld International, Nov. 3, 1999.)