Johnson & Johnson Innovation, Edico, Illumina, Veeva Systems, And More: News From May 2017

May 31, 2017 | May featured exciting new, products, and partnerships from around the bio-IT community from innovating companies, organizations, and universities, including Johnson & Johnson Innovation, Edico, Illumina, Veeva Systems, and more.

Johnson & Johnson Innovation announced 24 new companies have become residents of Johnson & Johnson Innovation, JLABS @ Toronto since its grand opening exactly a year ago. The 40,000-square-foot life sciences incubator now hosts a total of 40+ companies, and provides these entrepreneurs shared lab space and offices, modular lab suites and access to scientific, industry, and capital funding experts, all with no-strings attached. The companies represent a range of sectors including pharmaceuticals, medical devices and consumer health solutions with focus areas such as oncology, vision care, genomics, neuroscience, infectious diseases, immunology, and the microbiome. In addition to offering emerging life science companies modular lab units, office space, shared core laboratory equipment, business facilities, third-party services, and educational events, JLABS links the entrepreneurs of Toronto with the full breadth of Johnson & Johnson Innovation, including opportunities for funding, access to research and development experts from medical technology, consumer healthcare product, and the pharmaceutical teams at Janssen. JLABS @ Toronto provides access to scientific, industry, and capital funding experts from across the industry, and operates under the JLABS no-strings attached model, which means resident companies can completely retain their intellectual property and there are no first rights of refusal. Press release

Edico announced it has collaborated with Illumina to make DRAGEN available on BaseSpace Sequence Hub. DRAGEN delivers extremely high accuracy at ultra-rapid speeds, enabling a whole human genome to be analyzed in under 10 minutes. BaseSpace Sequence Hub is a cloud-based platform that extends Illumina instruments for the acquisition and analysis of genomic data, and manages sequencing runs and Illumina sequencing platforms to optimize operations. By integrating point solutions from multiple vendors, Sequence Hub reduces time from sample submission to answer and improves the overall accuracy of the results, allowing users to focus on the science. Edico’s FPGA-centric solution features optimized algorithms for mapping, alignment, sorting, variant calling, and more, and enables hyper-efficient, real-time compression of data files, reducing the genomic data footprint and long-term storage costs significantly. Multiple end-to-end, clinical-grade pipelines are available from Edico, including genome/exome, cancer, transcriptome/RNA-seq, structural variant, copy number variant, epigenome/methyl-seq, metagenome/microbiome, joint genotyping, and third-party pipelines such as GATK 3.6. The platform is flexible and allows for customization of algorithms and existing pipelines. Best-in-class solutions for onsite, cloud or hybrid cloud analysis have been created through partnerships with top technology companies, including Intel, IBM, Dell EMC, and Amazon Web Services. Press release

DataDirect Networks (DDN) announced that large commercial machine learning programs in manufacturing, autonomous vehicles, smart cities, medical research, and natural-language processing are overcoming production scaling challenges with DDN’s large-scale, high-performance storage solutions. Machine learning projects often stumble in the transition from proof of concept to production scale, which can introduce significant production delays in rapidly developing markets where time is of the essence. For machine learning applications at scale, DDN delivers up to 40X faster performance than competitive Enterprise scale out NAS and up to 6X faster performance than Enterprise SAN solutions, while providing faster results against more types of data using a wide variety of techniques. It also allows machine learning and deep learning programs to start small for proof of concept and scale to production-level performance and petabytes per rack with no additional architecting required. Press release

PerkinElmer announced the launch of PerkinElmer Signals Lead Discovery at the 2017 Bio-IT World Conference & Expo. This platform helps chemists and biologists accelerate their research by enabling search, aggregation, and analysis of both internal and external data sources. PerkinElmer Signals Lead Discovery is designed to eliminate the complexities and time associated with aggregating data from multiple internal and external data sources in a single, easy-to-use platform. The platform provides visibility into trends, patterns, and insights into structure or sequence-activity relationships via a guided workflow powered by the TIBCO Spotfire software. More information here.

Optibrium announced it had entered into a collaboration with Imperial College London and Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi). Optibrium’s StarDrop software will be available to students at Imperial College studying MSci and MRes programmes in Medicinal Chemistry, as part of a collaborative project with DNDi to design new candidate compounds for Visceral Leishmaniasis. Optibrium will also provide teaching on the application of software for drug discovery to these students. The collaboration is part of DNDi’s Open Synthesis Network, a global health program focused on neglected diseases, and also supports a wider initiative to provide students the most relevant courses for a career in the pharmaceutical industry. As part of the collaboration, students will have access to StarDrop’s unique drug discovery capabilities enabling them to, for example, characterize properties for known drugs, understand the structure-activity relationships in existing project chemistry and then intuitively design new candidate compounds based on StarDrop’s predictive models. Compounds that show potential to become effective therapies for the treatment and prevention of these diseases will be progressed by DNDi. Press release

GenomeDx Biosciences announced that a genomic signature commonly used with breast cancer patients to determine their risk of recurrence has been found to also identify which patients with aggressive prostate cancer may benefit from hormone therapy. Using gene expression profiles from GenomeDx’s Decipher Genomics Resource Information Database (Decipher GRID), the study showed that the PAM50 signature can be used in prostate cancer to better predict which men may benefit from early initiation of androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) after surgery, providing a potential clinical tool to personalize prostate cancer treatment. The study, titled “Associations of Luminal and Basal Subtyping of Prostate Cancer With Prognosis and Response to Androgen Deprivation Therapy,” was published online this month ahead of print in JAMA Oncology. “Although prognostic signatures have become widely established in prostate cancer research, the development of signatures that can predict response to individual therapies has been a difficult proposition,” Felix Feng, Associate Professor of Radiation Oncology and Urology at the University of California, San Francisco, wrote in a statement. “The clinical validation of the established breast cancer PAM50 signature for men with prostate cancer will help physicians to predict which patients are most likely to benefit from postoperative hormone therapy, allowing for personalized patient selection, potentially improving treatment outcomes and sparing many patients from unnecessary toxicity.” “Ultimately we envision the field moving towards a biomarker driven approach, whereby prognostic signatures are used to select patients with aggressive disease and predictive signatures are used to select specific therapies,” wrote Doug Dolginow, chief executive officer of GenomeDx. “The combination of a genomic test such as Decipher and basal-luminal subtypes could allow for selection of patients who need postoperative ADT, improving the personalization of therapy for patients with prostate cancer.” Press release

The plenary sessions of the 2017 AAPS National Biotechnology Conference focused on patient-centric healthcare. Deborah Collyar, President of Patient Advocates in Research; Cynthia Grossman, Associate Director, Science of Patient Input FasterCures at Milken Institute; and Bray Patrick-Lake, Director of Patient Engagement at Duke Clinical & Translational Science Institute, led sessions that challenged the audience to think beyond the current paradigm of patient engagement in drug development. From the perspective of a patient advocate, each speaker highlighted the role for timely, comprehensive, and bi-directional inputs between healthcare providers and patients, with an eye toward anticipating medical needs customized for the individual patient. This mindset has the potential to drive a significant improvement in the current state of outcomes research-driven healthcare and health policy. Contributed notes from Dr. Joe Rajarao, Client Engagement Manager at IDBS. The AAPS National Biotechnology Conference 2017 took place at the San Diego Marriott Marquis and Marina from May 1-3; IDBS was an exhibitor and hosted a session that challenged the notion that quality and compliance can only be evaluated retrospectively, that is, after a study has been executed.

Veeva Systems announced that Bristol-Myers Squibb, a global biopharmaceutical company, will expand its adoption of Veeva Commercial Cloud in key markets outside of the U.S. The company will add Veeva CRM Events Management to better manage field events by streamlining approvals and reducing complexity in the process. Bristol-Myers Squibb will also leverage Veeva CRM Approved Email to support an integrated, tailored customer engagement experience. Bristol-Myers Squibb is one of 22 life sciences companies that have adopted Veeva CRM Events Management since its release, quickly establishing it as a leading choice for companies to better orchestrate their customer engagement strategies. Press release

DNAnexus announced that its secure cloud-based platform has been selected as a partner for AstraZeneca’s Centre for Genomics Research (CGR), which will analyse over two million genomes in the next 10 years to inform drug discovery and development. Financial terms of the collaboration were not disclosed. The AstraZeneca Centre for Genomics Research is building a bespoke database of genomic sequences from samples donated by patients in its global clinical trials over the past 15 years and over the next 10 years, integrated with associated clinical and drug response data. Press release

Geneious Biologics was launched and will change the way scientists identify antibodies for use in biological drug development. The Geneious Biologics software platform will allow biopharma and biotechnology enterprises to create highly annotated antibody databases, significantly improving their ability to leverage accumulated knowledge and gain insights into trends and relationships that may otherwise have been missed. An advanced application programming interface (API) enables Geneious Biologics to integrate with established data systems while a powerful filtering and query language allows scientists to quickly and accurately identify best performing antibodies, regardless of the data’s origin in their organization’s infrastructure. Press release

Golden Helix announced a multi-year partnership with Sentieon. This partnership will integrate Sentieon’s secondary analysis tool with Golden Helix software to provide users with a comprehensive solution for genomic data analysis. Sentieon’s suite of secondary analysis tools made significant improvement in runtime over BWA-MEM, GATK, MuTect, and MuTect2 while providing deterministic and identical results. Andreas Scherer, CEO of Golden Helix, wrote, “Sentieon’s secondary analysis pipeline has proven to be powerful to call single nucleotide variations and INDELs for germline and cancer data. It provides significant speed advantages over existing methods, without sacrificing precision and accuracy. Sentieon’s products are highly synergistic with Golden Helix Copy Number Caller VS-CNV. The two products combined provide the most complete secondary analysis solution in the industry. While this solution will benefit all of our users, we are in particular excited for our customers that operate in a high-throughput environment.” Integrating secondary genomic data analysis into Golden Helix’s software stack will allow clinical users to go from a FASTQ all the way to clinical report in one streamlined process, saving time and money. Press release

Qumulo announced that leading life sciences and medical research institutions are choosing Qumulo to accelerate their data-intensive workflows, including cancer and infectious disease research, genomics, bioinformatics, proteomics, microscopy, and big data. Johns Hopkins Genomics (including the NIH CIDR Program at The Johns Hopkins University), the Center for Infectious Disease Research, Georgia Cancer Center at Augusta University, Channing Division of Network Medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Progenity, and DarwinHealth have joined the rapidly growing number of customers turning to Qumulo to speed discovery of new medical breakthroughs. Press release

Copyright Clearance Center (CCC) announced enhancements to RightFind XML for Mining, a cloud-based solution enabling users to quickly identify and download a corpus of full-text XML articles from more than 50 multiple publishers through a single source. With these new features, CCC enables users with no previous experience to harness the benefits of semantic enrichment, reducing manual processes and increasing efficiency in research. Building on CCC’s existing partnership with SciBite, a leading provider of semantic solutions for the life sciences and pharmaceutical industries, RightFind XML for Mining now provides a powerful new semantic search workflow through a “one-click” integration with SciBite’s DOCstore product, a faceted search repository for semantically enriched text. The integration enables researchers to work efficiently and at scale within a fully hosted, end-to-end solution for scientific literature licensing, access and normalization, semantic enrichment and semantic search. Press release

Repositive is expanding the range of data available with the launch of a Specialist Data Collection for the Personal Genome Project. The latest addition to Repositive’s Specialist Data Collections will see all of the data collected for the Personal Genome Project available in one place, combining data currently held in the US, UK, and Austria. The Personal Genome Project is a study which aims to sequence and analyse the genomes and medical records of 100,000 volunteers globally. It contains large amounts of genomic data including whole genome sequencing, methylation analysis and RNA-Seq. The new PGP Specialist Data Collection adds to Repositive’s series of community led data collections which include Autism, Microbiome, Personal Genomes, Population and Methylation data collections. Press release

The Internet2 board of trustees today announced the appointment of Howard Pfeffer as its new president and chief executive officer (CEO). Pfeffer brings over 30 years of experience in networking, systems and software engineering and helped pioneer the development of broadband Internet in the cable industry. Pfeffer will replace Internet2's current president and CEO H. David Lambert, effective June 12, 2017. Most recently, Pfeffer served as the senior vice president of the broadband technology group at Time Warner Cable where he successfully led the architecture, engineering and development of the telecommunications infrastructure for residential and business services. He brings a strong background of business experience, technical leadership, deep advanced network knowledge and a track record of growth of new services. As president and CEO, Pfeffer will serve on behalf of the Internet2 membership community and is responsible for establishing and fostering the vision and strategic direction of the organization and has ultimate responsibility and accountability for its success. In this role, Pfeffer will lead all activities for the non-profit organization to further support the research and education community in the United States and around the globe. Press release

NetApp introduced the latest version of its next-generation object storage software to help enterprises take control of rich content data and accelerate their digital transformation. “The accelerated pace of digitization is creating significant data management challenges for geo-dispersed enterprises and service providers,” wrote Amita Potnis, research manager at IDC. “NetApp StorageGRID Webscale is an easy-to-deploy, highly scalable solution that will help users create the necessary infrastructure to support massive growth in both structured and unstructured data.” The newest enhancements to StorageGRID Webscale provide IT operations and development teams with a software-oriented storage solution to manage data at scale. The solution also brings the enterprise closer to achieving a next-generation data center. StorageGRID Webscale now offers:

  • More software deployment options, including Docker container support and the ability to install on bare-metal servers
  • Simpler OpenStack storage deployments with Keystone integration, Swift access control list (ACL) support, and heat-less deployment
  • Better multitenant control with the ability to monitor and manage user capacity quotas
  • Certification with Veritas Enterprise Vault to centralize retention management across email, files, social media, and more

“NetApp’s StorageGRID Webscale is a strategic asset in our cloud services portfolio. By offering this solution as a service, ASE is giving customers immense control over their data at a global scale. The solution has not only fueled our company’s growth by helping us become one of Australia’s top-10 most trusted cloud providers, but has disrupted the management of data across the digital landscape," said Andrew Sjoquist, founder and CEO of ASE Cloud Solutions, in a statement. “The innovative functionality of StorageGRID Webscale provides premium data management, reliability and cost efficiency. It enables us to deliver flexible storage options to customers and improves their experience with our cloud solutions.” Press release

Syrris is launching its Titan system at InformEX in Philadelphia, USA, from the 16th to the 18th of October. This modular continuous chemical processing system is designed to enable straightforward scale-up, from kilo lab through pilot plant to manufacturing. Titan is an easy to use, high performance turnkey system designed for long-term use in demanding manufacturing environments. It comprises a wide range of seamlessly integrated, rapidly reconfigurable modules, enabling simple or sophisticated continuous flow processes to be performed on a lab scale, or at rates of up to a tonne per day. Titan offers flexibility and scalable functionality – extra modules can easily be added – allowing the type and complexity of processes to be easily modified, or multiple processes to be combined into a single system. Reactors are available in 64 and 250 ml volumes, and may be connected together when larger scale systems are required. Reliable and robust, Titan offers extremely high chemical resistance. It can accommodate reaction temperatures from -40 to +250 °C and pressures up to 20 bar, at flow rates between 1 and 250 ml/min per channel. Process parameters can be controlled manually from the modules, or automated via Titan or pre-existing PLC or plant software. Press release

Thermo Fisher Scientific has expanded its line of endotoxin-free plasmid DNA isolation products with the launch of the PureLink Expi Endotoxin-Free Maxi Plasmid Purification Kit. With a simple and fast protocol for isolation, the kit allows researchers to yield up to 1.5 mg of endotoxin-free, advanced transfection-quality plasmid DNA in less than 90 minutes. The kit uses novel, proprietary anion-exchange membrane based columns, in combination with a vacuum-assisted workflow, to isolate advanced transfection-grade plasmid DNA in about half the time of current standard protocols. Researchers can now achieve high yields of endotoxin-free DNA in significantly less time without compromising quality or purity. Thermo Fisher Scientific also launched a new capillary electrophoresis (CE) system designed to offer a low-throughput, cartridge-based system for Sanger sequencing and fragment analysis. For use with oncology research, genome editing, species identification, and human cell line authentication among other common applications, the Applied Biosystems SeqStudio Genetic Analyzer supports the growing need for an affordable and easy-to-use CE platform. The new SeqStudio Genetic Analyzer utilizes a unique all-in-one cartridge that combines the capillary array, polymer reservoir and anode buffer, which vastly simplifies preparation and hands-on processing time. Other innovative features of the system allow customers to access individualized protocols, an intuitive touchscreen and connectivity to the Thermo Fisher Cloud for remote setup and monitoring as well as easy data analysis and collaboration. The SeqStudio Genetic Analyzer will be available to all global markets in the second half of 2017 and is already in use by select customers in North America, EMEA, Japan and China. These early-access customers have reported exciting successes with more than 2,000 combined runs on the system. Press release

ATUM (formerly DNA2.0, Inc.) announced that the company has signed a patent licensing agreement that gives Thermo Fisher Scientific access to the company’s novel gene design platform. “Most people think visually, so seeing a graphic representation of a sequence is very helpful in the design process,” wrote Alan Villalobos, ATUM's Vice President of Synthetic Biology and an inventor of the method. “Gene Designer 2.0 represents sequence elements as icons, and features a drag and drop function that is crucial for avoiding errors that creep in during cut-and-paste operations, when one nucleotide missed can destroy the function of the entire construct.” Gene Designer 2.0 software, introduced by ATUM in 2005, captures the entire gene design process in one efficient application, using a range of design tools purposely built for the task: intelligent algorithms for in silico cloning, codon optimization, back translation, and primer design; graphically rich molecular view to display, annotate, and edit constructs; customizable database to store, manage, and track genetic element, genes, and constructs; drag-and-drop interface for moving sequence elements within or between constructs. Press release

The National Library of Medicine announced the departure of David J. Lipman, who has served as the Director of the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) since its creation almost 30 years ago. Lipman is assuming the position of Chief Science Officer at Impossible Foods, a new company applying molecular biology to the food industry. Under Lipman’s leadership, NCBI has become an essential resource for biomedical researchers, practitioners, patients as well as the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries. During his tenure, NCBI has grown from a handful of staff working to link biomedical literature and DNA sequences to a staff of hundreds that produce more than 40 integrated databases that serve scientists and the general public. Each day more than 3 million users access NCBI databases and download more than 50 terabytes of data. Press release

Fluence Analytics, formerly Advanced Polymer Monitoring Technologies (APMT), announced it has raised a Series A funding round led by Energy Innovation Capital (EIC). Fluence Analytics products optimize efficiency, cost and quality of manufacturing and R&D processes in polymer and biopharmaceutical industries. Analysis of the confluence of realtime data generated by the company’s products allows customers to produce materials at the lowest cost with the highest quality and yield, all while minimizing environmental footprint. The Series A funding round also included participation from other investors. Fluence Analytics patented products and services were developed with over $20MM in competitive grants and funding from investors and customers. The value of the technology is proven with two and a half years of industrial production operations and the release of second generation products in 2016. As part of the financing, George Coyle, a Managing Partner of Energy Innovation Capital, has joined the Fluence Analytics’ Board of Directors. Press release 

Brooks Life Science Systems is launching its newest informatics platform, BioStudies, to provide the industry’s most comprehensive purpose-built sample intelligence software system integrated with market leading enterprise analytics and mobility software from MicroStrategy Incorporated. This new solution integrates innovative visualization and dashboard capabilities within BioStudies to support global sharing of biobank sample data and advance the optimization of biological samples for research purposes. Designed specifically to integrate global sample inventory data, BioStudies is a robust, user configurable solution that connects sample inventory information with consent, phenotypic and clinical data, giving customers a single tool that supports an integrated approach to managing sample collections within population and research-based studies. Further, BioStudies enables improved sample lifecycle management of valuable samples from collection, through manifesting, receipt, storage, analysis and disposal. BioStudies can also integrate data from Brooks’ automated biostores, instruments and equipment, giving researchers a single, cohesive sample data management solution. BioStudies leverages the innovative Brooks ISIDOR operating system to enable researchers and biobank managers to realize the true value of collected samples and respective data from around the world. Press release

Currently, 22 people die every day waiting on the government’s deceased donor list, those that live to get a transplant from that list wait 7 to 12 years for their organ. In addition, there are over 250 people that die every day waiting for an organ transplant that are not on the government’s waiting list because they are too old or too sick. MatchingDonors is doing everything it can to stop that by providing a forum for all people in need of lifesaving transplants to match with living, altruistic donors. Many patients receive their kidney transplant within only six months of registering on In conjunction with various health organizations throughout the United States, MatchingDonors has created this very successful public service announcement campaign to help people recognize that they can save lives by being a living organ donor, to encourage them to register as an altruistic living organ donor, and to make them realize they can help save the lives of people needing organ transplants by donating other things. PSA

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