MGRC Completes 100th Human Genome

Malaysia-based company completes genomics milestone

Kuala Lumpur, 17 November 2011 Malaysian Genomics Resource Centre Berhad (MGRC) today announced that it has successfully completed its 100th human genome from a diverse mix of Malaysian, European and Australian individuals.

The results of the data generated from these genomes has helped in efforts to identify and compare highly represented patterns of common and clinically-relevant genetic variations within Malaysian and other populations, and to establish robust bioinformatics protocols for the reference-based analysis of genomic information.

MGRC Chief Scientific Officer, Dr Stephen Rudd, explained, “By reaching this milestone, MGRC has clearly demonstrated its capabilities in sequencing and analysing human genomes. It also further highlights the fact that genomics technologies and expertise are available in Malaysia for both the local and international life sciences community.”

The experience of analysing 100 human genomes has enabled MGRC to enhance its analytical pipelines and its proprietary Human Genome Browser. This puts the Company in the position of now being able to sequence and analyse a human genome in less than two weeks.

These pipelines are already being used in the MyGenome Project to characterise patterns of human genetic variation in the Malaysian population. The MyGenome Project is a collaborative effort among Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI), Malaysia Genome Institute (MGI), and MGRC. It was launched in November 2010 and it involves the deep sequencing and comprehensive bioinformatics analysis of 25 genomes from ethnic groups in Malaysia.

About Malaysian Genomics Resource Centre Berhad
Malaysian Genomics Resource Centre Berhad (MGRC) provides genome sequencing, bioinformatics analysis, and genetic screening services. The company�s expertise is in the rapid sequencing and analysis of large volumes of genetic data. Since 2004, MGRC has developed extensive experience in the sequencing and analysis of human, animal, plant and microbial genomes, including large complex de novo genome assembly, for customers in Malaysia and overseas. Today MGRC operates one of the largest computational centres for genetic analysis in the region.

MGRC Offers Enhanced Online Sequence Analysis Tools

Improved version helps researchers with more complex bioinformatics analysis

Kuala Lumpur, 8 August 2011 – Malaysian Genomics Resource Centre Berhad (MGRC) has announced the extensive update of its comprehensive range of high-speed online bioinformatics analysis tools and reference databases. These free-to-use tools now offer users greater flexibility to perform complex analyses of genomic data with a very short turnaround time.

One of the major updates involves the seamless integration between SynaBlast-Mega and sequence data from NCBI’s GenBank database. MGRC’s SynaBlast-Mega bulk alignment tool enables users to search thousands of either nucleotide or protein sequences in a single submission. The tool now utilises the fullest set of DNA and protein sequences from GenBank. With this enhancement, SynaBlast-Mega users are able to submit up to 10MB of sequence query data, thus empowering them to analyse thousands of queries at one time.

To further improve its bioinformatics applications, MGRC has also included additional biological domains in its reference databases. While retaining a focus towards mammalian genomic information, complete datasets from fungal, bacterial, plant and invertebrate genomes have also been included. This Malaysia-based genome sequencing and analysis centre now operates with a storage capacity of more than 50 TB, as part of its commitment to provide state-of-the-art online sequence analysis tools to users throughout the world. The combination of integrated software tools and increased databases has seen a continued upswing in MGRC users from the United States, Europe, China and India. MGRC has also provided a version of the portal in Mandarin for Chinese users.

MGRC’s Chief Scientific Officer, Dr Stephen Rudd, explained, “The ability to easily perform complex searches and analyses of multiple sequences simultaneously using SynaBlast-Mega will greatly reduce the time taken by users to obtain results. Coupled with access to GenBank databases, our bioinformatics tools are primed to help scientists, researchers and bioinformaticians accelerate their downstream research and subsequently to make interesting new discoveries that are of significance. MGRC’s online applications are designed to be highly robust, versatile and all-encompassing. Much thought is also put into ensuring they are compatible with GenBank and other publicly-available reference databases, as well as being user-friendly.”

The enhanced and updated SynaBlast-Mega, and other online sequence analysis tools, can be freely accessed by the public at MGRC’s bioinformatics portal, www.mgrc.com.my.

MGRC Officially Launches Genetic Screening Services

MGRC unveils comprehensive range of new genetic screening services for inherited and infectious diseases

Kuala Lumpur, 28 June 2011 – Malaysian Genomics Resource Centre Berhad (MGRC), one of Asia’s leading genome sequencing and analysis service providers, today launched a range of comprehensive genetic screening services, as well as an all-in-one test for a multitude of infectious diseases.

Genetic screening examines a person’s genome for known variation markers, some of which are causal for diseases, while others carry a lifetime risk for contracting a genetic illness. Aberrations in a human genome give rise to different types of diseases, such as cancer, autism, Alzheimer’s disease and Down’s syndrome. Other genetic variations may be responsible for adverse reactions to drugs.

MGRC’s new genetic screening services will be made available through hospitals and other primary care facilities around Malaysia. Healthcare professionals will be able to use these services for the advance identification of predispositions to inherited diseases, corresponding risk factors, and drugs that have side effects in certain individuals. With assistance from qualified geneticists, this will allow physicians and doctors to better understand and advise on the management of their patient’s health. In addition, physicians and doctors will be able to prescribe suitable and more effective medication at optimal dosage based on their patient’s genetic make-up. Access to information from the results of a genetic screening test can help to reduce the threat posed by both genetic and infectious diseases, through early detection and treatment.

MGRC’s Chief Scientific Officer, Dr Stephen Rudd, said, “Our tests are designed to correlate to both inherited and infectious diseases that commonly afflict Asians, making our tests more relevant to the Malaysian population. Predictive medicine is practised through the application of genetic screening on patients, which can indicate very early whether a patient has genes that predispose him or her to a disease. Genomics is rapidly evolving healthcare in the direction of personalised medicine.”

Apart from tests for genetic diseases, MGRC will soon offer a single, definitive test for a multitude of infectious diseases, streamlining the rapid identification and treatment of disease-causing microbes in humans. For example, current diagnostic tests for dengue are reliable only approximately five days after symptoms are first observed and once anti-bodies are present in the blood. MGRC’s rapid, genetic marker-based test, which does not depend upon the presence of antibodies, will enable earlier detection so that the correct treatment can be commenced.

MGRC’s Genetic Screening Services Explained

MGRC offers a wide range of genetic screening services for adults and children, from focused genotyping services to whole genome, exome and transcriptome sequencing. Genotyping is a cost-effective approach for the systematic survey of previously characterised human genetic variations, and testing for infectious diseases, whereas genome screening is more suited to discovery and characterisation of rare variants and novel mutations.

MGRC’s new genetic screening services for healthcare professionals include the following:
Genome Sequencing: This allows the examination of genetic differences at the genome level through the sequencing of the whole genome, exome or transcriptome. These approaches provide views of the human genome at various levels of detail, which enable the subsequent survey of different types of human genetic variations.

Basic to Extensive Genotyping: This involves the examination of an individual’s genome for known markers that reveal genetic variations within DNA and predispositions to genetic disorders and inherited diseases. This extensive service also checks for possible adverse reactions to drugs.

Perinatal Genotyping: This involves the examination of newborns and young children up to five years old for inherited diseases and genetic disorders, with particular focus on health and disease traits affecting infants. Parents can opt to get their children tested to understand better their genetic predispositions.

Pre-conception Genetic Tests: These involve checks for inherited diseases and genetic disorders for couples to determine which traits they may pass on to their unborn child. These services can be obtained for both parents and their newborn.

Infectious Diseases Test: This enables the detection of hundreds of infectious and communicable diseases in a single test. The test includes common diseases affecting the Asian region, such as dengue, tuberculosis, H1N1 viruses, hepatitis, intestinal infections and malaria, among many others.

MGRC’s Managing Director, Robert Hercus, said, “Genomics is rapidly changing our approach to healthcare. It has already helped medical researchers uncover and understand many of the genetic causes of diseases. Currently, many diseases are conventionally diagnosed through a patient’s symptoms and blood tests that measure the biochemical content of their blood sample at a specific point in time. Genetic screening looks much deeper, at the gene level, to provide valuable in-depth information about the presence of genetic variations that cause inherited diseases, the presence of genes from infectious disease agents, and even detailed information on potential adverse reactions to different drugs. In this way, genetic screening provides a more comprehensive understanding of a patient’s state of health.”

MGRC hosted a launch of its new services to the nation’s medical practitioners. People interested in genetic screening services can ask their doctors for further information.

MGRC and FELDA Create Breakthrough on Ganoderma Basal Stem-Rot Fungal Disease

Sequence data of the Ganoderma genome is now available to public

Kuala Lumpur, 9 June 2011 – Scientists and research groups can now obtain vital information on the Ganoderma Basal Stem-Rot (BSR) fungal disease following the success of Malaysian Genomics Resource Centre Berhad (MGRC) in completing the sequencing and assembly of the Ganoderma boninense fungus genome.

The latest breakthrough by MGRC was made possible through a joint-effort with Felda Agricultural Services Sdn Bhd (FAS). The sequence data from the Ganoderma genome will be made available to the public at MGRC’s website, www.mgrc.com.my, making it the first company in the world, together with Felda, to offer this information for free to the global scientific community. The cost of sequencing and assembly for the Ganoderma genome was borne by MGRC as part of its corporate responsibility activities.

Ganoderma fungal invasion is one of the most serious biological threats to the oil palm industry and its sustainability in Malaysia and Indonesia. Causing basal stem rot in oil palm trees, the Ganoderma fungus has a massive impact on the life-span of affected trees and dramatically affects both fruit quality and yield.

MGRC Chief Scientific Officer, Dr Stephen Rudd, said, “By sharing the Ganoderma genome with the wider scientific community, we hope to accelerate R&D towards a solution for the oil palm industry. While MGRC will continue to analyse the genome of this deadly fungus to obtain in-depth genetic information, we hope that a community effort will produce faster results than one group of scientists going at it alone.”

“With access to data from the Ganoderma genome, research groups will be empowered with the much-needed information, boosting efforts in finding a remedy for the spread of the disease,” he added.

CEO of FAS, Mr S Palaniappan, said, “The threat of Ganoderma BSR to our oil palm industry is very serious and real. Therefore, it is essential that we have a total understanding of Ganoderma – from how it survives and spreads to its genetic information. Felda is proud to collaborate with MGRC in the hope of accelerating effective solutions for the industry to benefit from.”

Ganoderma BSR is a major concern in Malaysia as palm oil is a major bulk export. In 2010, the export earnings from oil palm products reached RM59.77 billion. With total oil palm area of 4.85 million hectares, a potential 30% to 70% loss of oil palm due to BSR has substantial implications to planting resources and revenue.

In an industry weary from battling the fungus epidemic, the news on the successful sequencing of the Ganoderma genome and its availability to all researchers could not have come at a better time. Researchers remain quietly confident that the answer to the problem will also be found there.

MGRC Appoints Dr Stephen Rudd as Chief Scientific Officer

Kuala Lumpur, 13 October 2010 – Malaysian Genomics Resource Centre Berhad (“MGRC” or the “Company”), Malaysia’s newly-listed genome sequencing and analysis service provider, announced today the appointment of Dr Stephen Rudd to the position of Chief Scientific Officer.

Dr Rudd specialises in bioinformatics and has been actively involved in projects relating to genome analysis, gene expression profiling, proteomics, toxicogenomics and pharmacogenomics. His primary responsibilities in MGRC include overseeing the development of new services and analysis pipelines.

Managing Director Robert Hercus said, “We are very pleased to welcome Dr Rudd, who is a highly experienced bioinformatician. In addition to our existing team of bioinformatics experts, I am confident that Dr Rudd will help to increase our capacity to take on new projects in genomics and bioinformatics.”

Dr Rudd said, “It is such a great opportunity for me to be working in Malaysia and especially with a company like MGRC. Over the years MGRC has successfully established itself as a proven and trusted player on the global bioinformatics stage. I am highly optimistic that MGRC will become a household name in the genomics and life science industry and I am looking forward to being part of the Company.”

Dr Rudd has a Ph.D. in molecular biology from the University of East Anglia in the UK. He was a Senior Bioinformatics Specialist at Orion Pharma in Finland. Prior to that, he was the Senior Scientist and the Head of Bioinformatics at the Turku Centre for Biotechnology in Finland. His other previous attachments include the John Innes Centre in the UK and GSF Research Centre in Munich, Germany. He has published more than 40 scientific articles, and co-authored the research paper on the Arabidopsis thaliana genome, the first plant genome in the world to be sequenced.

MGRC Garners Strong Support for its IPO (MGRC IPO 28.7 Times Oversubscribed)

Kuala Lumpur, 27 September 2010 – Malaysia’s leading contract genomics services provider, Malaysian Genomics Resource Centre Berhad (“MGRC” or the “Company”), en-route for a listing on the ACE Market of Bursa Malaysia Securities Berhad, registered an oversubscription rate of 28.7 times for its 2 million shares made available to the Malaysian public.

A total of 4,529 applications for 59.4 million shares were received from the public. Another 16.5 million shares made available for private placement and 600,000 shares for subscription by eligible directors respectively were also fully subscribed.

MGRC’s listing exercise involved a Public Issue of 17.1 million new ordinary shares, and an Offer For Sale of 2.0 million existing MGRC Shares at an offer price of RM 1.08 per share. This exercise is expected to raise RM 18.468 million.

Of the 17.1 million shares offered, 2.0 million new shares were made available for public subscription, 14.5 million new shares were allocated for private placement to selected investors, and 600,000 new shares were for eligible directors of the Company.

Of the total proceeds, RM 6.90 million is allocated for capital expenditure, of which, a significant portion of that amount will be used to purchase two units of next generation sequencing machines. Other utilization of proceeds include RM 4.57 million for working capital, RM 2.0 million for marketing expenditure, RM1.51 million for Research and Development expenditure and the balance RM 3.49 million to defray listing expenses.

Commenting on the response, Robert George Hercus @ Abdul Karim Hercus, Managing Director of MGRC said, “We are delighted with the response to our IPO from the investment community at large, and the confidence the market has in the Company. Going forward, we believe MGRC will be able to leverage its position as a listed entity to capitalize on the business opportunities that present themselves in the genomics and bioinformatics space.”

The implied market capitalization of MGRC upon listing, based on its issue/offer price of RM1.08 a share, would be in excess of RM100 million. MGRC’s listing is expected be the first of its kind in South East Asia due to its niche market position and the high barriers of entry associated with commercial contract genomics sequencing.

MGRC is scheduled for a listing tentatively on 5 October 2010.

MGRC Optimistic on Growth in Genome Sequencing and Analysis

Kuala Lumpur, 08 September 2010 – Kuala Lumpur, 8 September 2010 – In conjunction with its proposed listing on the ACE Market of Bursa Malaysia Securities Berhad, Malaysian Genomics Resource Centre Berhad (“MGRC” or the “Company”), a leading contract genomics services player, launched its initial public offer (“IPO”) prospectus today.

MGRC’s IPO entails a public issue of 17.1 million new ordinary shares and offer for sale of 2.0 million existing ordinary shares at an issue/ offer price of RM 1.08 per share. Of the 19.1 million total shares, 16.5 million shares were earmarked for private placement, 2.0 million shares will be made available via balloting and 0.6 million shares were offered to eligible directors.

Speaking at the prospectus launching ceremony, which was held earlier today, Robert [George?] Hercus @ Abdul Karim Hercus, Managing Director of MGRC said, “Over the past 8 years there has been a 9,000 fold increase in the volume of sequence data that can be generated in a single day. Bioinformatics analysis is needed to extract meaningful biological information from this data and more research institutions are looking to outsource such expertise to bioinformatics service providers such as MGRC. This listing is timely as it will allow us to tap into the capital market to expand our resources and capitalize on the growing demand for cutting edge bioinformatics solutions and analysis services.”

The Company is raising close to RM18.5 million from this IPO exercise, of which RM6.9 million (37.4%) will be used for capital expenditure, RM4.6 million (24.7%) for working capital, and the remainder for marketing expenditure, research and development activities as well as listing expenses.

A significant portion of MGRC’s capex will be utilized to purchase two next generation-sequencing machines which is expected to enhance the Company’s service offering, increase the speed of generating DNA sequence data, and reduce project costs.

Independent market research consultant, Frost & Sullivan Malaysia Sdn Bhd foresees that the global bioinformatics industry will grow from an estimated USD19.0 billion in 2009 to USD50.1 billion by 2014.

“We are very excited to ride on the growth of this emerging industry. Leveraging on our track record and technical expertise, we are confident of strengthening our market presence further”, said Hercus.

For the financial year ended 31 May 2009, MGRC recorded net profit of RM12.0 million on the back of RM17.1 million revenue. For its audited 10 month financial period (1) ended 31 March 2010, the Company posted net attributable profit of RM9.3 million against RM14.3 million revenue.

Applications for the subscription of MGRC’s public issue will open from today, 8 September 2010 and will close at 5 pm on 23 September 2010. Trading of MGRC shares on the ACE Market of Bursa Malaysia Securities Berhad is expected to commence at 9 am on 5 October 2010.

Malaysian Genomics Resource Center Berhad Launches US$4000 Human Genome Bioinformatics Service

KUALA LUMPUR, 2 April 2010 – Malaysian Genomics Resource Centre Berhad (MGRC) today announced the release of its US$4000 Human Genome Bioinformatics service. This is a comprehensive end-to-end bioinformatics analysis service for human genome sequencing projects. The special offer price includes the pre-processing of 30X sequence data from Illumina’s Genome Analyzer or Complete Genomics’ DNA sequencing platform followed by the mapping and reporting of CNVs, SNPs and Indels. Users may also opt to do identification of structural variations and comparative genomics as additional services. MGRC is also releasing a new genome browser for viewing the genome. This ‘built-from-scratch’ browser is optimised to handle the volume and complexity of next-generation sequencing data.

This service is part of MGRC’s SynaWorks programme, an extensive suite of bioinformatics solutions specifically tailored to manage and leverage data generated from next-generation sequencers.

MGRC Managing Director, Robert Hercus, said, “Since launching SynaWorks in 2008, we have successfully completed a large number of human and cancer genome projects for our customers. This has led to the continual improvement of existing pipelines, which in turn has enabled MGRC to provide a comprehensive and rapid service for whole human genomes in a short turnaround time and at groundbreaking low costs.”

The Human Genome Bioinformatics service would be most beneficial for small and medium research facilities which may have hardware or manpower resource limitations. This service enables researchers to outsource the analysis of their data at a low price and gives them more time to focus on their core business and research.

Sime Darby Makes Important Discovery in Oil Palm Genome

KUALA LUMPUR, 12 May 2009 – Sime Darby Bhd announced today that it has successfully deciphered the genetics of the oil palm, making it the world’s first company to achieve this scientific breakthrough.

The company’s success in deciphering the oil palm genetics – or in scientific terms sequencing, assembling and annotating the oil palm genome – is expected to bring multiple benefits to the oil palm industry.

Among the benefits are higher yields per hectarage, as well as crops that are disease resistant, drought tolerant and salinity resistant, among others.

Sime Darby President and Group Chief Executive Dato’ Seri Ahmad Zubir Murshid said that the breakthrough would lead to generation of new varieties of the crop and that would have the potential to double yields in the next three decades.

“By comparison, we now consider a 1% increase in oil yields an achievement,” he said. For the industry this success will also enable palm oil to take pole position in the global edible oils sector.

The sequencing, assembly and annotation of the oil palm genome will enable the identification of several markers or signatures that have the potential to bring several new benefits for the industry.

Some of these markers have the potential to accelerate the production of new varieties of designer oils, while others will make the crop more resistant to disease as well as more tolerant to drought and salinity. The markers will also enable the identification of planting materials that have greater capacity for assimilation of nutrients.

The breakthrough has been achieved through collaboration between Sime Darby Technology Centre (SDTC) and Synamatix Sdn Bhd, a bio-informatics company.

Research into the oil palm genome began in 2003 after Sime Darby recruited top notch biotechnologists and restructured the SDTC for biotechnology research. In November 2005, collaborative efforts on a project to analyze gene expression data began with Synamatix. It was during this time that the possibility of sequencing the genome was explored.

However, it was only in June 2008 when a feasibility study was successfully completed that Sime Darby decided to invest in the genome project. A month later, in July 2008, the Sime Darby and Synamatix researchers successfully sequenced the genome using the best available technique.

The genomic sequencing technology employed is based on an innovative system that enables the sequencing of DNA at ultra high speed, thus making it possible to produce highly accurate sequence information.

Sime Darby is the world’s first company to completely sequence, assemble and annotate the oil palm genome with 30 times coverage (repeated sequencing over 30 times) and with 93.8% completeness.

The breakthrough in sequencing the oil palm genome will have positive financial impact on not only on the Sime Darby Group but also the industry in the long-term. The revenue from oil palm-based operations is expected to increase significantly in the next three decades.

Dato’ Azhar Abdul Hamid, Managing Director of Sime Darby Plantation Sdn Bhd, said, “The potential revenue increase is significant but equally important is the fact that there are new possibilities open to the industry. With higher yields the use of palm oil for non-traditional purposes will not disrupt supply for food.”

Sime Darby expects to start planting the new varieties progressively.

As a responsible player in the world’s oil palm industry, Sime Darby will continue to strive for the betterment of the sector through collaboration with other parties in areas that fit into the Group’s overall business model.

In addition, Sime Darby is also committed to sustainable development in oil palm, as evidenced by its strong support for RSPO (Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil) principles and criteria as well as other world bodies involved in sustainable development.

454 Life Sciences and Malaysian Genomics Resource Centre Announce a Genomics Collaboration to Advance Microbial and Medical Research in Asia

BRANFORD, Conn., 7 May 2007 – 454 Life Sciences Corporation announced a collaboration today with Malaysian Genomics Resource Centre (MGRC) based upon applying high-speed DNA sequencing and bioinformatics technologies for the characterization of tropical organisms and diseases.

454 Life Sciences and MGRC will work together on applying the newly launched high-throughput Genome Sequencer FLX System™ (GS FLX) to spearhead the adoption and wide-spread deployment of cutting-edge genomics and bioinformatics projects in Malaysia. The collaboration was formally announced at a signing ceremony at the BIO International Convention in Boston, MA. The ceremony was officiated by the Honourable Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia, Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Tun Abdul Razak.

“Malaysia is investing significant resources in establishing itself as a regional hub for biotechnology research and industrialization,” said Christopher McLeod, President and CEO of 454 Life Sciences. “We are delighted and excited to be involved as a partner with MGRC to help realize the full potential of genomics in Malaysia.”

454 Life Sciences and MGRC will be collaborating on a number of high-profile projects from the Malaysian academic community. Specific examples that have already been earmarked include the sequencing of microbes with biotechnological and medical applications, as well as large scale-characterization of diseases that are prevalent in Malaysia and the region as a whole.

Munirah Hamid, Executive Director of MGRC commented, “Genomics and bioinformatics have become fundamental, must-have technologies for advancing biological research. The 454 Life Sciences DNA sequencing platforms have enabled previously impractical projects to be pursued due to their combination of high accuracy, high throughput and lower cost of DNA sequencing.”

MGRC services are provided with the support of Malaysian Biotechnology Corporation (BiotechCorp), an agency under the purview of the Malaysian Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation. BiotechCorp’s objective is to support and accelerate growth of the Malaysian biotechnology industry.

About 454 Life Sciences

454 Life Sciences develops and commercializes novel instrumentation for high-throughput DNA sequencing. Specific applications include whole-genome sequencing, RNA analysis and ultra-deep sequencing of target genes. The hallmarks of 454 Sequencing™ are its simple, unbiased sample preparation and massively parallel sequencing, which makes large-scale scientific projects feasible and more affordable. 454 Sequencing and the Genome Sequencer 20 System won The Wall Street Journal’s top Innovation Award in 2005 and received an R&D 100 Editor’s Choice Award as one of the most technologically significant products in 2006. The 454 Sequencing Center offers sequencing services directly to customers on a fee for service basis. Genome Sequencer systems are exclusively distributed for 454 Life Sciences by Roche Applied Science, a division of Roche Diagnostics. For additional information, please visit http://www.454.com.

454 Life Sciences Corporation is a majority-owned subsidiary of CuraGen Corporation. In March 2007, 454 Life Sciences, Roche Holdings, Inc. and an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of Roche Holdings entered into an Agreement and Plan of Merger whereby 454 Life Sciences will become an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of Roche Holdings if the merger is completed. The merger is expected to become effective in the second quarter of 2007 contingent upon regulatory approvals and certain closing conditions. For additional information regarding the merger, please refer to CuraGen’s Current Report on Form 8-K filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission on April 2, 2007.

Back to Press Release