Which gene? Assays for human genetics are big business. Credit: APPLERA CORPORATION

According to Celera Genomics in Rockville, Maryland, the next step after the sequencing of the human genome will be 'merging technologies'. Celera, recently forged agreements with Applied Biosystems in Foster City, California, under the umbrella of the Applera Corporation to work towards integrating all aspects of genomics. The companies are now developing an array of predesigned and prevalidated assays for genes identified on completion of the sequencing of the human genome. There are already assays for more than 18,500 human genes known to be expressed, as well as kits for over 125,000 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) — their goal is to have 200,000 SNP assays by the end of the year.

“The most common complaint we hear from scientists is: 'but we're not bioinformaticians',” says Ramin Cyrus, a senior director for Celera. Anthony Kerlevage, a senior director at Celera, likens the situation to modern word processors. “They are packed with features, but most of us just use them to write letters,” he smiles. The solution? This month, Celera and Applied Biosystems launched the 'myScience' portal.This website allows users to upload data from instruments, databases or laboratory information management systems (LIMS), and store them in personalized workspaces. Users can then analyse their data with an array of tools, guided by predesigned workflows. These workflows act like 'wizards' — guiding the user through the options of which web-based tools are available. The site itself is free (Applied Biosystems hopes that it will tempt users to purchase the company's assays), and is designed to complement the subscription-based Celera Discovery System, which offers deeper analyses.