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August News and Product Briefs

News Briefs 

The sbv IMPROVER project announced the completion of the Network Verification Challenge, which has generated a set of biological models relevant to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, available for review by the global scientific community. The challenge combined literature curation, data-driven prediction and crowd-sourced verification to produce models that represent the current status of scientific knowledge related to COPD onset and development. The models are available for download at Bio-IT World covered this challenge upon its launch last October. Challenge site 

The MD Anderson Cancer Center and Foundation Medicine are opening a randomized-controlled trial, to determine whether targeted therapies based on tumor molecular profiling result in longer progression-free survival in patients with advanced disease. This study, IMPACT2, aims to support the broader use of targeted therapies across all types of cancers, not just in select ones for which existing diagnostic and treatment options were insufficient. It builds on promising results from the first IMPACT trial, presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s Annual Meeting in 2011. Foundation Medicine will provide support with their FoundationOne profiling assay, which detects genomic alterations in solid tumors across 315 cancer-related genes and 28 other genes often rearranged in cancer. Press release 

Cancer Genetics, Inc. closed the acquisition of BioServe Biotechnologies India, a genomics services provider serving both the research and clinical markets in India. BioServe India, which operates a genomics facility in Hyderabad, provides next-generation sequencing, genotyping and DNA synthesis services. CGI acquired BioServe India for approximately $1.9 million, largely in CGIX stock and other deferred consideration. BioServe India will be a wholly owned subsidiary of CGI that will be renamed Cancer Genetics India. CGI plans to retain BioServe India’s 33 employees, and hire additional members.  Press release 

Neural ID has made its Intelligent Waveform Service (IWS) compatible with PerkinElmer’s TIBCO Spotfire platform, enabling Spotfire users to interact directly with biosignal traces across discovery and preclinical R&D phases. The IWS platform uses machine learning to automate biosignal recognition and analysis from multiple instrument platforms. The TIBCO Spotfire assimilates data from multiple sources including chemical structures, text, numbers, images, chemical properties and biological assays, letting users perform complex analyses and create visual dashboards. Press release 

Caris Life Sciences and GenoSpace formed a collaboration to apply GenoSpace’s population analytics offerings to uncover insights from the Caris’ tumor profiling service, Caris Molecular Intelligence. The partnership will also leverage GenoSpace’s analytics architecture to derive treatment leads from the Caris Registry, a database of clinicopathologic and outcome variables from consenting patients whose tumors underwent multi-technology profiling by Caris. With more than 65,000 patients profiled to date, Caris provides a unique bank of tumor data for analysis with GenoSpace’s informatics platforms. Press release 

DNAnexus, an enterprise software provider for genome informatics and data management, appointed David Shaywitz, M.D., Ph.D. as the company’s first Chief Medical Officer.  Shaywitz joins DNAnexus from Theravance Biopharma and will focus on expanding clinical use of the company’s cloud-based genomics platform, working with external partners and collaborators. At Theravance, Shaywitz focused on strategy and business development, and led a product team.  He has also served as a management consultant at the Boston Consulting Group, and an early member of the Department of Experimental Medicine at Merck Research Labs. Press release 

BioNano Genomics announced the purchase of an Irys System by the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, who will use the platform to detect structural variants in sequenced genomes for projects including the Cancer Genomics Project and the Parasite Genomics Team. Genome maps built with the Irys System not only reveal the order and orientation of genes, promoters, and regulatory elements, but also identify the length and location of long areas of repeats, as well as virus components integration sites across the genome. Information about repetitive elements and structural variations is normally lost with next generation sequencing methods. Press release 

Comprehend secured $21 million in Series B financing. The round was led by Lightspeed Venture Partners with support from existing investor Sequoia Capital. Lightspeed partner Peter Nieh joined the company’s board of directors. Comprehend’s cloud-based business intelligence platform provides universal access to clinical trial data and analytics, allowing all stakeholders in clinical development to access up-to-date information. In the past year, Boston Scientific, Karyopharm, MERGE, Atlantic Research Group and Versartis have become clients. The company will use the new round of capital to expand its product development and customer solutions teams. Press release 

Vaxxas, a biotechnology company commercializing a novel vaccine delivery platform, has been named a 2015 Technology Pioneer by the World Economic Forum. Vaxxas is one of 24 emerging technology companies from around the world and across all industries recognized for their potential to transform the future of business and society. Vaxxas’ Nanopatch, still in development, directly targets delivery of vaccine components to the abundant immunological cells immediately below the surface of the skin, resulting in immune system activation at much lower doses than required by needle injection. Vaccines dry-coated onto Nanopatch also have thermostable properties, freeing them from the cold chain. Press release 

New Products 

Cellular Research announced an early access program for its Precise assays, making the products available to ten sites. The Precise assays use sensitive RNASeq assay technology to examine large numbers of standard or low-input mRNA samples in high throughput. Based on Cellular Research’s Molecular Indexing technology, the assays are designed for rare and precious samples or whenever absolute quantitation is required. They combine molecular and sample indexing, allowing customers to sequence up to 2,000 samples on one sequencing run without investment in new equipment. Early access customers may start with a list of genes in which they are interested, and Cellular Research will generate the specific panel of assays for them. Press release 

Appistry, which commercializes bioinformatics tools developed at the Broad Institute, released its Variant Annotation and Analysis (VAA) Suite for identifying causal variants in next-generation sequencing (NGS) data. The VAA Suite helps researchers pinpoint variants associated with specific diseases, including cancer and inherited diseases with known genetic causes. The Suite adds descriptive annotations to the VCF files generated by NGS analysis software, and provides filtering and visualization options that enable researchers to find those variants most relevant to their studies. Appistry has also developed scripts that automatically sort variants by population frequency or deleteriousness. The VAA Suite is designed for use with Appistry’s Genome Analysis Toolkit and Cancer Genome Analysis Suite, but also works with any tools that generate VCF files. Press release 

MolecularHealth added a new component to its TreatmentMAP offering in the United States, called RxAssistance, providing an extra level of reimbursement support. RxAssistance evaluates insurance options for both the TreatmentMAP molecular diagnostic service, and the therapies recommended by its tests. Each patient’s TreatmentMAP results report and insurance information is reviewed by MolecularHealth’s reimbursement specialist, a Certified Professional Coder, prior to results being sent to the physician. Off-label or investigational products recommended for treatment are flagged and information is gathered, including the likelihood a payer will reimburse for the suggested treatments and any additional information that will be needed to receive reimbursement, such as a letter of medical necessity. Press release 

ElMindA announced that the FDA has approved the company’s Brain Network Activity Analysis System (BNA) for the assessment of brain function.  BNA combines non-invasive, multi-channel EEG technology with signal processing and analysis algorithms to measure patterns of brain networks activated during specific brain processes. The BNA output allows healthcare providers to assess a patient’s functional brain network activity and compare it with functional network activity of healthy brains. BNA is now cleared for 14- to 24 year-olds, and the company is conducting additional research activities to further expand the indicated age group. Press release 

Qlucore added new RNA-seq capabilities to its Qlucore Omics Explorer 3.0 platform, which now supports direct import and normalization of RNA-seq data (aligned BAM files). With only a few mouse clicks the discriminating genes are identified and results are available in publication ready lists and plots, including heatmaps with hierarchical clustering. Users can also compare RNA-seq data with pathways and other biological information using the Gene Set Enrichment Analysis Workbench. Press release 

Optibrium launched Sentira, a desktop application that provides dynamic data visualization and analysis of compound data. Applicable across all fields of chemistry, Sentira allows users to find patterns in compound data, visualize structure-activity relationships, and present and report findings. Researchers can review and interpret compound data sets from large screening libraries to individual chemical series in drug discovery, agrochemical, flavorings, cosmetics, fragrances and other industries. Press release 

Certara, a global drug development and drug safety consultancy, added virtual synthetic chemistry capabilities to its Muse molecular design workflow for the identification and optimization of lead drug candidates. The new product, Muse Invent, will allow researchers to create drug candidates with novel structures, scaffolds, or side-chains that meet multiple design objectives, and will describe the necessary synthesis pathway to create them. Press release 


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