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July News and Product Briefs

News Briefs

The Open Medicine Institute officially launched its OpenMedNet platform, an online healthcare environment that can be used by patients, physicians, and research institutions to track detailed data on how treatments and lifestyle factors affect the management of chronic disease. (Clinical Informatics News profiled the platform in “OpenMedNet Provides a Platform for Understanding Chronic Disease.”) The Open Medicine Institute has also announced a new partnership with the Addario Lung Cancer Medical Institute (ALCMI) and the initiation of two related studies that will be supported by OpenMedNet. The first study focuses on inherited lung cancer mutations, and the second will characterize genomic markers associated with lung cancer in young people. Press release 

Appistry launched its inaugural Appistry Pipeline Challenge, a competition that will provide $70,000 worth of software and hardware to aid one team in developing and executing an innovative next-generation sequencing (NGS) analysis pipeline. Any U.S.-based researcher in any organization is eligible to enter the competition, which runs until August 15, 2014. The prize package from Appistry comprises a one-year license to commercial versions of NGS analysis tools from the Broad Institute, and the Ayrris On Ramp Program for NGS analysis, which provides a developer workstation with installed software for managing tools, data, and pipelines. Press release 

Ceres, an agricultural biotechnology company, licensed its Persephone genome visualization application to Bayer CropScience. Bayer is the second multi-national life sciences company to license Persephone as its primary genome browser. While Persephone was originally developed for in-house use by Ceres, it has attracted outside users through a number of software innovations for speed and ease of use, as covered by Bio-IT World in “Persephone, the Real-Time Genome Browser.” Press release 

Cloud Pharmaceuticals expanded its drug design and development program through an allocation of 1 million core-hours at the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility (ALCF). Researchers at Cloud Pharmaceuticals will use Mira, a 10-petaflops IBM supercomputer, to investigate inhibitors of the dihydrofolate reductase enzyme, or DHFR, from multiple sources. The purpose is to identify leading drug candidates for therapeutics targeting several parasitic diseases, including malaria. Cloud Pharmaceuticals was also awarded a Phase I grant of $150,000 from the National Science Foundation Small Business Innovation Research (NSF SBIR) program, to further develop the company’s Inverse Design computational drug discovery platform. Press release 

NextCODE Health began a partnership with the Academic Centre on Rare Diseases (ACoRD) at University College Dublin, to use NextCODE solutions and the latest sequencing technologies to improve the diagnosis and understanding of autism and rare diseases. NextCODE's Clinical Sequence Analyzer, Sequence Miner, and the GOR database infrastructure will be used to search for novel sequence variants linked to autism spectrum disorders. Bio-IT World has previously written about these informatics platforms, adapted from technologies developed at deCODE genetics, which most recently expanded to include a Tumor Mutation Analyzer. Press release 

The tranSMART Foundation announced that the Phelan-McDermid Syndrome Foundation and the Center of Biomedical Informatics at Harvard Medical School were awarded a nearly $1 million contract from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) for a research endeavor using the tranSMART platform. The team will collect and integrate previously-siloed medical and research data to make discoveries related to Phelan-McDermid Syndrome (PMS), a very rare genetic condition with a moderate to severe impact on brain development and strong association with autism spectrum disorders. Press release 

Syapse raised $10 million in Series B financing, led by Safeguard Scientifics with participation from Series A investor, The Social+Capital Partnership. This financing will enable Syapse to expand sales, marketing and client services, and continue product development. Syapse’s Precision Medicine Data Platform integrates data from electronic medical records, molecular testing labs, imaging and billing systems to track patients’ health longitudinally. Press release 

MolecularHealth appointed Gabriel Bien-Willner as medical director of its CLIA-certified next-generation sequencing lab in The Woodlands, Texas. Since the launch of TreatmentMAP, the company’s cancer treatment decision support offering, the number of incoming test requests have continued to increase. (Bio-IT World has covered the development of TreatmentMAP in “MolecularHealth Enters the American Cancer Genomics Market.”) Dr. Bien-Willner will manage the day-to-day clinical duties of the laboratory. Prior to joining Molecular Health, he served as a faculty member in the Department of Pathology and Immunology at Washington University in St. Louis, where he conducted research in cancer biomarker discovery and the development of novel genomic technologies. Press release 

EpiCypher named Sam Tetlow as Chief Executive Officer and a member of the Board of Directors.  Most recently, Tetlow served as CBO of ILS, where he led organic growth in the commercial sectors and launched ILS Genomics. EpiCypher is in the process of moving to North Carolina to undertake R&D and lab operations in Chapel Hill. EpiCypher also announced the company is offering five fully-funded Epigenetic Grants to fund projects that involve the study of histone modifications in physiologic or pathologic processes. For the studies selected, EpiCypher will provide EpiTitan histone peptide arrays, histone modification screening services, and statistical analysis of protein or antibody binding profile. Applications for the grant are due by September 10, 2014. Press release 

RainDance Technologies appointed Kathy Ordoñez to its Board of Directors. As Senior Vice President at Quest Diagnostics, Ordoñez was initially responsible for leading the company’s R&D effort and later provided oversight to multiple businesses commercializing diagnostic products and testing services.  She was previously the Chief Executive Officer at Celera and a founder of Celera Diagnostics. Press release 

IDA Ireland released promotional statistics about Ireland’s status as a pharmaceutical hub. Observations include that nine out of ten of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies have operations in Ireland, that over $9 billion has been invested in biologics manufacturing in Ireland in the last ten years, and that Ireland’s 25% research and development tax credit, and low corporate income tax rates, have attracted numerous biotech operations in recent years. Website 

New Products 

Clearbridge BioMedics launched its ClearCell FX System, a device that isolates and captures circulating tumor cells (CTCs) from a blood sample, at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. The ClearCell FX System is available for cancer research applications, helping researchers develop new cancer treatments and study cancer metastasis biology. The system is label-free, requires only a blood draw, and can be used to longitudinally sample tumor cells throughout a course of treatment. Press release 

Oracle introduced Oracle Health Sciences Data Management Workbench, a platform that automatically aggregates, integrates and reconciles the data that clinical trials collect from internal and external data sources, including electronic data capture, laboratory, safety/pharmacovigilance, and drug supply systems. By increasing data integration and standardizing data formats throughout the study process, Oracle Health Sciences Data Management Workbench automates the identification and correction of discrepancies in multi-source data. The platform integrates with Oracle Life Sciences Data Hub and Oracle Health Sciences InForm. Press release 

Millennium Labs expanded its Millennium PGT test, a laboratory developed pharmacogenetic test that analyzes clinically important genetic variations associated with the way patients may respond to commonly prescribed medicines. The saliva-based test provides clinicians with information that may help them individualize medication treatment decisions. Millennium PGT now includes seven additional genes, bringing the total to eleven; the newly featured genes are CYP2C9, CYP3A4, CYP3A5, VKORC1, COMT, MTHFR and OPRM1. Millennium PGT is paired with PGT Consult, a mobile application to support health care providers in optimizing patient treatment. Press release 

Advaita Bioinformatics announced the addition of its iPathwayGuide application to BaseSpace Apps, Illumina’s applications store and informatics community linked to the MiSeq and HiSeq sequencers. iPathwayGuide is a web-based pathway analysis tool with a systems biology perspective. The app highlights chains of perturbation propagation and drug targets directly on the pathway, and provides access to analyses including gene analysis, gene-ontology analysis, pathway analysis, drug pathway mapping and disease associations. Product page 

NanoString Technologies expanded the capabilities of its nCounter Elements General Purpose Reagents with the addition of a universal junction probe design that offers specific detection and analysis of known fusion genes.  Fusions genes are hybrid genes formed from two previously separate genes, an increasing number of which are being recognized as diagnostic and prognostic indicators in human cancers and diseases. nCounter Elements GPRs enable clinical laboratories to independently develop multiplexed genomic assays and translate those assays into clinical diagnostics as Laboratory Developed Tests. Press release 

Strand Life Sciences released the 2.0 version of its next-generation sequencing (NGS) data analysis and visualization platform, Avadis NGS, under the new name Strand NGS. Strand NGS is built on the same platform as Strand and Agilent Technologies’ GeneSpring. The 2.0 release adds features from the GeneSpring NGS module, through the addition of a Methyl-Seq workflow, direct access to BioCyc and WikiPathways, better support for target enrichment experiments, and Multi-Omic Pathway Analysis. Strand NGS will also continue to provide workflows for alignment, DNA-Seq, RNA-Seq, small RNA-Seq and ChIP-Seq experiments, statistical analysis tools, a genome browser, and downstream biological interpretation and annotation. Press release 

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