Varionostic: Epigenetic Analytics at its Finest

“This year varionostic will celebrate its 9th anniversary.” Uwe Gerstenmaier addressed this statement to his guests with pride last week, when he presented the new location of the labs to members and friends of the Bioregion Ulm. In October last year varionostic moved from downtown to a more comfortable building at the uphill Science Park Ulm neighbouring the campus of the Ulm University.

Together with Hubert Beyrle the chemist founded the company in 2006. Today varionostic is a highly requested partner in clinical research focusing on epigenetics. It calls itself as Europe’s leading expert for DNA methylation analysis. The basis of its excellence is a comprehensive portfolio of modern bioanalytical methods, from Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) to MassARRAY and Pyrosequencing. “We offer our customers outstanding tailored services from assay design to data analysis and data interpretation”, Uwe Gerstenmaier said. Besides bioanalytical services the company is doing own epigenetic research and develops predesigned methylation assays.

Gene activity is influenced by DNA methylation. Most important in epigenetics is the methylation of Cytidine bases within Cytosine Guanosine (CpG) units. Meanwhile scientists know, that special methylation patterns exist and that they can be age-dependent. Two invited speakers – Professor Dr. Wolfgang Wagner from the RWTH Aachen University, and Professor Dr. Hartmut Geiger from Ulm University – described the emerging benefits of epigenetic research concerning DNA methylation analyses. In adult stem cells, for instance, the degree of DNA methylation increases during aging. Therefore, the biological age of a stem cell donor can be determined precisely within a special range, using blood samples. Future studies about molecular alterations and the aging process will be of great importance, because aging correlates with an impairment of tissue regeneration. On the other hand, stem cells often induce the genesis of tumours, showing highly self-regenerative power. Therefore, studies are underway to reveal specific methylation patterns in cancer disease, especially leukemia. Such methylation patterns can be used as biomarkers for diagnosis, prognosis and therapy options in personalized medicine. Furthermore, scientists are looking for molecular mechanisms to stop or to reverse the natural aging of stem cells.


Varionostic cooperates with Cygenia, a young start-up for epigenetic diagnostics, which is run by Wagner and Gerstenmaier. Cygenia’s first products are blood assays for the analysis of biological age as well as biomarker assays for acute myeloid leukemia and aplastic anemia. Because of its expertise in DNA methylation analysis varionostic is engaged in joint projects, scientific cooperations and contract services with the biochemical industry.

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