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OptiGen's 20th Anniversary Celebration!
A Bit of History and Perspective

 

Three Tiers of OptiGen Prices:
You will see on OptiGen's price page that we have reduced the former list of more than a dozen different prices to a simplified three tier system. The three tiers reflect different expenses that OptiGen bears for different tests, these costs being primarily related to intellectual property, e.g. patent, licensing and royalty expenses. A list of our current patent and license obligations is available here. Also, some tests are priced higher due to more expensive test methods that an accurate detection of certain mutations requires in order to meet OptiGen's stringent quality control standards. In some cases, higher pricing reflects OptiGen's research investments that have led to the mutation's discovery and our development of the test to begin with. OptiGen continues to re-invest earnings into continuing research. As a part of our mission to support research, OptiGen offers FREE DNA testing and sample archiving for many diseases. Please contact us at any time to learn more or to submit samples for research purposes.

We'll keep on doing what you like!
In spite of lowering the prices on our tests, OptiGen will continue to provide all of the services you've come to rely on over the years--at no extra cost to our clients--such as:

  • Maintaining the highest quality of laboratory services in the field, as evidenced by our achieving the rigorous, independently-assessed ISO17025 accreditation
  • Archiving small amounts of DNA on ALL samples so that more tests can usually be requested long after the sample was received.
  • Offering a variety of discounts and savings opportunities.
  • Supporting and advertising your event fundraisers and encouraging group discount pricing through our 20/20 clinic program
  • Offering multiple reporting methods including email, fax and mailed formal reports
  • Continuing close working relationships with a variety of foreign associate laboratories to assist our international customers
  • Providing informed genetic counseling, test interpretation and education
  • Regular reporting of statistics and/or test results to health registries and breed clubs. Contact us to learn how your breed club can establish this service. Remember that many health registries will only accept test results from licensed laboratories for those tests that are patented and licensed.
  • Supplying cheek swab kits upon request
  • And last but far from least....OptiGen staff will continue to provide you with personal, friendly and professional customer service. Just give us a call (607) 257-0301 or send us an email and we'll do our best to assist you!

Who would have thought way back in 1997 when OptiGen was first established that we would be here 20 years later still providing the best possible services in DNA testing for inherited diseases for concerned dog breeders? Yet here we are, still going strong and striving to earn our client's trust and appreciation. All of us at OptiGen greatly value the many relationships that have evolved with our clients in the past two decades. Your loyalty has kept us growing over the years and we are very pleased to both thank you and to mark this milestone by LOWERING our test prices.

From the start, OptiGen has played a pivotal role in supporting the discovery of important disease causing mutations in dogs. In our earliest days, we provided the first ever DNA tests for Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA). If you ask any veteran dog breeder from a wide variety of breeds such as the Portuguese Water Dogs, Labrador Retrievers and Poodles -- to name just a few of the many breeds we now know carry the prcd-PRA mutation—they will tell you how difficult the times were before OptiGen’s DNA tests came to the rescue. The only way to determine if a young dog (2-3 years of age) was affected by prcd-PRA, a “late onset” form of PRA that typically does not show clinical signs in a routine eye exam until dogs are more than 4 years old, was to have the dog undergo Electroretinography (ERG), a costly procedure requiring sedation. And most importantly, there was NO way to determine whether a dog carried only one copy of the prcd-PRA mutation. The incidence of PRA in some of these breeds would probably be shocking to many of today’s breeders.

Then, in 1997, thanks to the decades of research by two of OptiGen’s founders, Drs. Gus Aguirre and Greg Acland, the first genetic markers that could predict the presence of the prcd-PRA mutation with high accuracy were discovered. Their breakthrough meant, finally, there was a diagnostic DNA test that, although not perfect, could offer a huge advantage to breeders trying to avoid producing pups that would develop PRA. Knowing that an academic research laboratory was not the proper setting for the rigorous quality controlled environment that a diagnostic laboratory demands, Drs. Aguirre and Acland called on Dr. Jeanette Felix, a Ph.D. in human genetics whose skills as a leader in administration of research organizations such as the Foundation Fighting Blindness they had long admired. With Dr. Felix at the helm, OptiGen was established in 1997 and by 1998 OptiGen was offering a marker based test for prcd-PRA. Because the genetic markers associated with the prcd mutation varied by breed, each of the marker tests needed to be tailored to a each specific breed. The first marker test was offered to Portuguese Water Dogs and the following year OptiGen was able to refine and validate the markers and allow testing for Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, English Cocker Spaniels and Labrador retrievers. In subsequent years, more breeds were validated for the markers and added to OptiGen’s roster of test options. All through this process, OptiGen was collaborating with the Aguirre and Acland research team and over the years, as we moved closer and closer to discovery of the mutation, the marker test got more and more predictive. And then in 2005 the “Eureka!” that we had all been so avidly working for occurred. The prcd-PRA mutation was discovered. From that point on, OptiGen has offered the completely sensitive and specific mutation-based test for prcd-PRA, a mutation we now realize is incredibly widespread across more than 25 disparate pure breeds of dog. The technology associated with the discovery of this important mutation was patented by Cornell University Research Foundation and a worldwide exclusive license to these patents was granted to OptiGen.

From those early years when OptiGen only offered only a handful of DNA tests, we have remained committed to advancing research on inherited diseases of dogs and have added more than five dozen more tests to our lineup. Each of these tests is offered with the utmost attention to accuracy and validity. Each test is run with known reference controls from dogs that are known to carry 0,1, or 2 copies of the specific mutation and each test is run with a redundant alternative method to ensure the highest possible accuracy.

It should be noted that some tests that are sold by other laboratories don’t make the cut at OptiGen. If the test does not meet the standards of OptiGen’s scientific advisors, for example if the correlation between test result and disease is too low, OptiGen does not offer the test. OptiGen also restricts the routine sale of tests to only those breeds where we have evidence that the mutation being tested is known to occur. This is done in an effort to help clients select only the tests that are most likely to provide useful information. We make exceptions upon request and in the process help counsel the owners on DNA tests that are available and known to be important for their specific breed. OptiGen continues to work closely with a variety of academic canine geneticists as well as with concerned breeders and breed clubs with the goal of continuing to advance our understanding of inherited diseases and to help breeders prevent them through DNA testing. 

Onward!
Stay Tuned! Starting this year, OptiGen will be reaching out via social media and quarterly newsletters that you may subscribe to...more on that soon---we'll be in touch! As always, please let us know what we can do to improve. We're here to serve you!

 

Respectfully,

Susan Pearce-Kelling (Sue P-K)

President & Manager
OptiGen, LLC 

 


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OptiGen®, LLC · Cornell Business & Technology Park · 767 Warren Road, Suite 300 · Ithaca, New York 14850
Tel: 607 257 0301 · Fax: 607 257 0353 · email: genetest@optigen.com or optigen@clarityconnect.com
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