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Illumina, VAST Data, Thermo Fisher Scientific, And More: News From February 2019


February 27, 2019 | February featured exciting new, products, and partnerships from around the bio-IT community from innovating companies, organizations, and universities, including Illumina, VAST Data, Thermo Fisher Scientific, and more.

Illumina announced the release of the NovaSeq 6000 S Prime (SP) Reagent Kits, which enable smaller batch sizes and lower output sequencing methods at a lower price per read compared to NextSeq or HiSeq Systems. The new NovaSeq S-Prime Reagent Kits are available in 100- and 300-Cycle configurations, as well as a 500-Cycle configuration that will support read lengths up to 2x250bp. In addition to providing additional sample batching flexibility and a longer 2x250bp sequencing, the NovaSeq S-Prime kits are well suited for customers transitioning from legacy HiSeq platforms, and for customers that are new to high throughput sequencing. “When compared to longer-read options on the HiSeq 2500 system, the NovaSeq 6000 S Prime 500-Cycle Reagent Kit offers higher throughput at a significantly more cost-effective price,” shared Joel Fellis, Senior Director, Product Management, Sequencing Systems at Illumina, in a press release. “Our expectation is that the new read length capabilities will fuel new projects and open up new applications on NovaSeq, particularly around large-scale metagenomics. Additionally, the ability to process smaller batch sizes on the S Prime flow cell will benefit many of our customers as they look to pilot new applications or methods before scaling to a higher output flow cell, or customers who want to quickly process a small number of samples.” Press release

VAST Data announced its new storage architecture intended on breaking decades of tradeoffs to eliminate infrastructure complexity and application bottlenecks. VAST’s exabyte-scale Universal Storage system is built entirely from high-performance flash media and features several breakthrough innovations that result in a total cost of acquisition that is equivalent to hard drive based archive systems. Enterprises can now consolidate applications onto a single tier of storage that meets the performance needs of the most demanding workloads, is scalable enough to manage all of a customer’s data and is affordable enough that it eliminates the need for storage tiering and archiving. As part of the launch, VAST announced it has raised $80M of funding in two rounds, backed by Norwest Venture Partners, Dell Technologies Capital, 83 North, Goldman Sachs, and a TPG Growth-sponsored investment platform. The announcement of this funding comes on the heels of VAST completing its first quarter of operation where it has experienced historic customer adoption and product sales. “Storage has always been complicated. Organizations for decades have been dealing with a complex pyramid of technologies that force some tradeoff between performance and capacity,” Renen Hallak, founder & CEO of VAST Data, said in a press release. “VAST Data was founded to break this and many other long-standing tradeoffs. By applying new thinking to many of the toughest problems, we are working to simplify how customers store and access vast reserves of data in real time, leading to insights that were not possible before.” Press release

Caris announced the launch of its newest addition to its comprehensive genomic profiling offering, MI Transcriptome, which enables Whole Transcriptome Sequencing (WTS). MI Transcriptome uses the capabilities of high-throughput sequencing to gain insight into the RNA profiles of patients' tumors and builds upon Caris' offering of the most comprehensive tumor profiling approach, which assesses DNA, RNA, and proteins to ensure patients receive the right therapies. MI Transcriptome enables fusion detection, mRNA variant detection, and expression all in one streamlined test. The test identifies novel fusions independent of the breakpoints in DNA, has the ability to detect rare fusion events far better than DNA-based short-read methods, and provides broad coverage of all exons, capturing all possible fusion partners. MI Transcriptome can distinguish between different fusion types and can differentiate fusions from other rearrangements. It also has the potential to discover previously uncharacterized events, which is important when identifying patients who could have strong response to targeted therapy. MI Transcriptome uses the same tissue requirements as Caris' DNA tumor profiling and delivers results in the same less-than-10-days turnaround time. Caris will submit MI Transcriptome to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) during the first half of 2019 for Pre-Market Approval (PMA) review to include key companion diagnostic (CDx) biomarkers and claims. Press release

Thermo Fisher Scientific announced the launch of its Invitrogen EVOS M7000 microscope. The latest offering in Thermo Fisher Scientific's innovative line of cell imaging systems, the EVOS M7000 microscope is designed to meet the increasingly demanding applications of cutting-edge biological research, from looking at samples to better diagnose disease to analyzing the effect of drugs on tumor cells. It features a fully automated, precision fluorescence microscope system with an ultra-fast acquisition engine and a user interface developed by biologists for biologists. "Every day, our customers are generating almost countless gigabytes of data looking at cells to monitor their health, collect images and report to stakeholders," said Dara Grantham Wright, vice president and general manager for protein and cell analysis at Thermo Fisher Scientific, in a press release. "The EVOS M7000 microscope is designed to give biological researchers a more powerful platform with the speed and image quality they need to gather data faster and move science forward." The EVOS M7000 microscope builds on the strengths of its predecessors, the EVOS FL Auto and FL Auto 2 cell imaging systems, with an upgraded XE3 computer and a Quadro graphics card to significantly reduce time acquiring and saving images. On a 50x50 scan with the monochrome camera, the EVOS M7000 microscope reduces average image acquiring time by 19 minutes and average saving time by 15.9 minutes when compared to the FL Auto 2. On a 1000-image scan with the color camera, it decreases average acquiring time by 7.76 minutes and average saving time by 21.5 minutes. Equipped with color and monochrome cameras, the EVOS M7000 microscope features automation routines for multi-well plate scanning and image tile stitching with autofocus, Z-stacking and time lapse that can be set up with just a few clicks of a button. Higher sensitivity also allows for reduced light exposure for weakly stained samples and phototoxicity and photobleach reduction. Combined, these features offer exceptional usability across a wide range of cell models, vessels and assays. Press release

IQVIA announced the launch of IQVIA Biotech and its new approach to delivering tailored clinical and commercial solutions for small biotech and biopharma companies. This solutions suite, supported by more than 1,000 dedicated employees, will deliver simplified operating procedures, specialized teams, and services to provide a more agile way for these innovators to reach their drug development and commercialization milestones. From initial planning to trial design and implementation to market launch and commercialization, IQVIA Biotech delivers a transparent and streamlined process with a deep foundation in science. “We designed this comprehensive solutions suite to address what our biotech customers were asking for—transparent and fit-for-purpose clinical processes with dedicated, therapeutically-aligned partners coupled with our unique set of enterprise capabilities,” said CEO and Chairman of IQVIA, Ari Bousbib, in a press release. “Those end-to-end capabilities include the analytics, technology and human capital clients need to smartly plan the launch and commercialization pre- and post-approval of their products, and the real world evidence needed to support pricing, safety, compliance, and regulatory requirements. We combine two decades of institutional experience specifically serving emerging biopharma companies with the power of the IQVIA CORE to focus on the immediate goals of our biotech customers.” IQVIA’s novel solutions incorporate unparalleled real world evidence resources, advanced analytics, and transformative technology to drive efficiencies and innovation. The company’s deep therapeutic and scientific expertise allows the IQVIA Biotech team to address specific needs at each milestone on the clinical development path and on the pre- and post-approval commercialization path. Key therapy areas for IQVIA Biotech include oncology, central nervous system, dermatology, cardiovascular, and immunology, among many areas of expertise. But at the core of this offering is the team serving these clients. Press release

AbCellera announced a multi-target and multi-year collaboration with Novartis. Under the agreement, AbCellera will apply its expertise in antibody discovery and its single-cell screening technology to advance programs on up to ten targets elected by the pharmaceutical partner. Over the past three years, AbCellera has successfully completed more than thirty antibody discovery programs, including deals with seven global pharmaceutical companies and top-tier public and venture-backed biotech companies. Applying best-in-class technology and custom innovation to each project, AbCellera enables programs for any target class, including difficult multi-pass membrane proteins, and provides its partners with a competitive advantage through superior diversity, speed, and quality. Under the terms of the agreement with Novartis, AbCellera is eligible to receive technology access, research funding, downstream milestone payments, and royalties on net sales of products. Press release

Valitacell and Solentim announced a new collaboration to enable earlier identification of biological candidates and to accelerate the development of breakthrough medicines. Valitacell’s novel in-line analytical profiling technologies and its data driven/machine learning approach, together with Solentim’s innovative image-driven liquid handling and cell measurement technology, will transform current workflows, creating a streamlined, automated platform which synergizes precise cell manipulations, attribute-rich profiling of clones and earlier decision making. "This collaboration combines our expertise in both biotherapeutics and emergent cellular therapy, and will optimize the process of drug discovery. We look forward to working in partnership with Solentim as we continue to discover and develop life-saving medicines that improve patients’ lives" said Terry McWade, CEO of Valitacell, in a press release. Ian Taylor, Chief Commercial Officer of Solentim, added, “We are delighted to be collaborating with Valitacell – this combination of technologies will provide a further component to our unique integrated solution for accelerating stable cell line development workflows. It will provide significant benefits for richer clone information and earlier decision-making on the best candidates to progress." Press release

Tecan announced the launch of NGS DreamPrep, a fully-automated approach to next-generation sequencing (NGS) library preparation for research use. This new approach offers quality controlled, sequencing-ready NGS libraries in just a matter of hours, with minimal manual interaction and no sample loss. NGS DreamPrep is a full walkaway solution that combines the Tecan Fluent liquid handler and Infinite plate reader, together with Celero DNA-Seq and Universal Plus mRNA-Seq library preparation kits – an optimized solution that brings significant improvements in speed, flexibility, accuracy, and precision. Klaus Lun, Executive Vice President Head of the Life Sciences Business Division, Tecan said in a press release: "Next-generation sequencing continues to revolutionize genomic research. Previously, the technique relied on libraries being quantified and normalized using methods that were time-consuming and subject to variability. NGS DreamPrep enables users to easily transform samples into high quality, ready-to-use libraries." NGS DreamPrep brings together Tecan’s technical expertise in chemistry and protocol development together with unsurpassed engineering know-how of automation and detection instrumentation to ensure an optimized approach. All elements have been designed to work hand-in-hand and researchers benefit from having a single contact point plus dedicated Tecan application support. The Tecan Group acquired US-based NuGEN Technologies, now named Tecan Genomics, in August 2018 to further expand Tecan's dedicated solutions offering into the new market segment of NGS reagents and kits, making the company the one-stop-shop for genomic sample preparation solutions. The Celero DNA-Seq and Universal Plus mRNA-Seq kits are the first of the company’s NGS kits to be available for the NGS DreamPrep. Press release

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