The company said that the addition Silicon Genetics' genomics data analysis and management tools to its portfolio would make it a 'market leader' in life science informatics.
Agilent will be able to supply informatics packages spanning applications in gene expression, genotyping and protein identification, it added. The combined team will work on developing Silicon Genetics' products, as well as the Agilent Spectrum Mill proteomics workbench and Synapsia informatics workbench
Prior to this acquisition, informatics was a relatively minor part of Agilent's product range, which is accounted for mainly by instruments and consumables for the life science and chemical analysis markets.
Silicon Genetics claims that its customers include more than 600 leading pharmaceutical companies, academic institutions and research organisations, including 12 out of the top 13 drug companies. It employs 50 people, most of whom are expected to join Agilent.
Silcoin Genetics has a number of products, including GeneSpring, a visualisation and analysis solution designed for use with genomic expression data; Varia, agenetic analysis software designed for high-volume genetic variation analysis on a standalone workbench; and GeNet, a scalable repository for expression data.
The acquisition is subject to closing conditions, and financial details of the agreement were not disclosed.
Meanwhile, Agilent revealed a second partnership in the informatics sector with the announcement that it would now be the exclusive distributor of Rosetta Biosoftware's Resolver and Luminator gene-expression data analysis systems.
"Our agreement with Agilent will benefit scientists who want to correlate data from multiple domains on an enterprise-wide level," said Yelena Shevelenko, general manager of Rosetta Biosoftware.
She noted that the link with Agilent will hasten the take-up of Rosetta's new gene expression analysis tools, such as the recently released Ratio Splitter and Re-Ratio features, which are used to analyse two-colour microarray data.
"Ultimately, researchers want to assimilate disparate data about cell DNA, RNA, proteins, metabolites and pathways in order to develop a more comprehensive understanding of disease function," said Fran DiNuzzo, vice president and general manager of Agilent's Integrated Biology Solutions unit, which was formed earlier this year.
The key to this is the development of software packages that work together, and the Rosetta Resolver and Luminator systems are at the heart of this effort, added DiNuzzo.