By Lisa Seachrist

Washington Editor

WASHINGTON — Invitrogen Corp. launched the human version of its GeneStorm product line with more than 500 expression-ready human gene clones available.

The Carlsbad, Calif.-based company has created the product line to facilitate the drug discovery efforts of biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies as well as academic research activities.

"Essentially, this is a time-saving tool," said Scott Provost, Invitrogen's product manager for GeneStorm. "This allows researchers to go to a list of expressed genes, order them and go directly to experimentation. Our goal is to eventually have as much of the human genome as possible available."

Invitrogen is providing the human genes in a mammalian expression vector, ready for use in experimentation. All of the constructs have been tested to show that they produce the proteins that they code for and all come with the full sequence.

The company introduced GeneStorm in February, with the entire 6,000 gene yeast (S. cerevisiae) genome in both yeast and mammalian expression vectors. The company's current launch includes 548 human open reading frames (hORFs), comprised of more than 100 different kinases, human transcription factors, receptors and other full length hORFs. Each hORF lists for $650.

Each mammalian expression vector contains a polyhistidine sequence purification feature in addition to a simplified epitope tag detection feature to facilitate functional genomic and gene analysis studies.

"These are strictly genes that are in the public domain and can be found in GenBank," Provost said. "However, by providing these genes in an expression-ready form, we expect companies could use them to create antibodies, analyze whether a drug candidate binds to the gene product, or decipher the effects of overexpression of the gene."

Provost also pointed out that companies could assess the specificity of drug candidates and determine cross-reactivity, which would provide early insight into potential toxicities.

"Given the extremely high costs of drug development," Provost said, "anything they can do to not waste money is very valuable." Invitrogen plans to have more than 1,000 hORFs available in expression-ready vectors by the end of this year. *