DULUTH, Ga. and LINCOLN, Neb. -- GeneSeek Inc. and Merial Limited announced today an agreement to conduct large-scale DNA genotyping in cattle.

The two companies are collaborating to develop seamless and high-throughput platforms to support research and for commercial diagnostic purposes, including sample collection, sample preparation, SNP genotyping, data processing and data management. Cattle producers will be able to use this information for advanced management and breeding of cattle to optimize efficiencies.

Initially, the collaboration will focus on a demonstration trial called "Project Lariat" to illustrate the value of these new platforms. More than 50,000 cattle will be sampled and genotyped, and their performance data recorded, to demonstrate the benefits of cost-effective DNA analysis in support of Marker Assisted Selection and Marker Assisted Management throughout the beef production chain.

"GeneSeek is a very strong partner for Merial and we are excited about what this new technology can offer the cattle producer," says Stewart Bauck, head of strategic development for IGENITY, the DNA diagnostic business of Merial Limited. "These new sample processing and genotyping platforms allow us to deliver a multitude of instructive new tests from a single sample, and the consistent application of the diagnostic platform across all samples will greatly enhance the speed and quality of the test results.

"The combination of increased value of the information from new diagnostic and identity markers, coupled with the cost efficiency to be gained from these new approaches to genomic testing, means that virtually all components of the beef production process can benefit from these exciting new tools."

Abraham Oommen, CEO of GeneSeek, said, "GeneSeek is very pleased to expand our partnership with Merial in providing high quality DNA genotyping services for the cattle industry. GeneSeek has recently completed a major expansion of our physical plant, as well as a technology upgrade across all facets of our laboratory and IT infrastructures.

"The platforms we are developing for sample processing, genotyping and data management will be critical in moving DNA testing from the current scenario of conducting one or two SNP tests in a small number of animals, to a more valuable model of facilitating breeding and management decisions based on highly informative DNA information collected in large populations," Oommen said.

Established in 1998 and based Lincoln, Nebraska, GeneSeek Inc. is a privately held, global biotechnology company dedicated to providing quality DNA-based diagnostic and discovery products and services. With over 100 customers in many countries, GeneSeek is committed to being an innovative and dynamic company serving the agribusiness, food safety and pharmaceutical markets.

Merial is a world-leading, innovation-driven animal health company, providing a comprehensive range of products to enhance the health, well-being and performance of a wide range of animals. Merial employs approximately 5,000 people and operates in more than 150 countries worldwide. Its 2004 sales were in excess of $1.8 billion. Merial Limited is a joint venture between Merck & Co. and sanofi-aventis.

SOURCE: GeneSeek Inc.