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Promega, Japanese lab announce partnership

Fitchburg, Wis. - Government and private actors from two hemispheres came together outside Madison Friday as life sciences company Promega and Japanese Kazusa DNA Research Institute signed off on a partnership agreement for pursuing genome research.

The three-year agreement will involve exchanges between the Kazusa Institute, which has isolated thousands of genes within the human genome, and Promega with its technology for expressing and identifying those genes.

While researchers at Kazusa have been successful isolating some of the largest genes in the human genome, not much is yet known about the genes themselves. The goal is for Promega's gene manipulation and visualization technology to be used to better understand Kazusa's proprietary gene sets and describe their critical functions, thus leading to greater scientific knowledge about the human genome as a whole.

The two groups will be exchanging technology, personnel and financial resources, though further details are confidential.

"I think the important thing is we É seem to have something Promega wanted to have, and we also have something we would like to pursue in this project," said Michio Oishi, director of the Kazusa Institute. "These are two mutually complementary things, and we appreciate what we are going to do."
"I would consider this a significant investment, both financially and in human resources," said Gary Tarpley, vice president of research and development for Promega. Tarpley commended both his company and Kazusa for their records in genetic research, adding that neither company could have accomplished the objectives by themselves.

At the signing, Promega Chairman and CEO Bill Linton discussed his firm's active involvement in Japan, Promega's second largest market outside of North America and home to two research labs that have opened over the last 12 years.

Linton discussed the active exchanges that will take place between the two companies, contrasting it with other partnerships that tend to be formed but not result in true scientific progress.

"This agreement is not one of those," Linton added.

Also on hand for the signing were Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle as well as Akiko Domoto, governor of Chiba Prefecture, home of the Kazusa Institute and Japan's sixth most populous prefecture. The two were credited for helping to facilitate the exchange under the two areas' sister-state relationship, which has been in place between Wisconsin and Chiba since 1990.

"For too long a time, the biotechnology industry in Wisconsin has been too well kept secret," Doyle said. "We're going to make sure the whole world understands what's going on in Wisconsin."

Doyle also credited the work between Wisconsin and Chiba, saying that most sister-state relationships begin as cultural exchanges and then don't go much beyond that. Instead, he hoped to expand upon that foundation toward more economic partnerships between the two, a sentiment echoed by Governor Domoto, who has made the advancement of research centers in her prefecture a strong aspect of her administration.

"Today's agreement is the first result of our efforts," Domoto said, "and it shows what we can achieve together."

Eric Kleefeld is a writer for WTN in Madison. He can be reached at

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