Omics, Methylation, AI-Driven Discovery, Online Education: News and Products for February

March 8, 2021

March 8, 2021 | New products and company updates from around Bio-IT including Seven Bridges’ partnership with Pfizer, Illumina’s Russian approval, new methylation detection platform from Twist, and more.

Corteva Agriscience has signed a multi-year agreement with Genestack to implement and license the use of Omics Data Manager, Genestack’s multi-omics data catalogue, curation and integrative search product. This agreement will facilitate the full utilization of collected research data, enabling insights to help improve the delivery of products, services and solutions to benefit farmers. Omics Data Manager (ODM) will help researchers at Corteva Agriscience accelerate the characterization of novel seed and crop protection solutions through better aggregation of experimental data. ODM provides a single, modern, interface to identify the biological samples of interest across public and internal datasets, which, combined with powerful curation tools, will enable Corteva researchers to ensure the accuracy and validity of study, sample, and analysis metadata. Ultimately, the ODM will empower Corteva to FAIRify (make Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Re-usable) and fully utilize their omics datasets. Press release.

Illumina’s NextSeq 550Dx platform and associated reagent kits have received medical device registration in Russia, as have reagents for the MiSeq Dx which was approved previously as a medical device. Both of these in vitro diagnostic (IVD)-ready solutions are available to customers and third-party developers to create diagnostic solutions using the technology. These registrations will catalyze the expansion of sequencing-based clinical diagnostics across the country. Sequencing platforms, and the reagents that drive them, must be approved separately in Russia by the medical device regulatory agency, Roszdravnadzor. Illumina’s strategic partner in Russia and CIS, R-Pharm, led the regulatory process and this is the first approval of complete sets of sequencing instruments plus reagents. Press release.

Benchling has launched Benchling for Education, a free remote learning solution for educators to teach biology courses. The initiative provides an easy-to-use, engaging platform for students of all ages to explore life science and learn from anywhere with the same tools as professional researchers, ensuring quality training for the next generation of scientists. As schools navigate the sudden switch to remote education, Benchling for Education delivers an accessible, cloud-based tool for educators and students to get hands-on with biology. Students using Benchling for Education can run through a series of self-serve lessons, work in an electronic lab notebook (ELN) and design biological experiments using the same Benchling software researchers use in the lab today, all while learning practical skills that can be applied to a variety of STEM fields. The platform can be used to supplement lectures, coordinate take-home assignments, and perform and record lab work for asynchronous learning anywhere with an internet connection. Hundreds of educators and educational communities are already introducing Benchling to their students. Press release.

Twist Bioscience has launched the Twist NGS Methylation Detection System, a robust, end-to-end sample preparation and target enrichment solution for identifying methylated regions in the human genome. DNA methylation plays a key role in many biological processes including cancer. When present on a single nucleotide, a methyl group can alter genetic behavior without changing the DNA sequence. Analyzing these methylation patterns provides unique understanding of disease pathology, including the ability to screen for cancer earlier using blood samples known as “liquid biopsies.” The Twist NGS Methylation Detection System begins with New England Biolab’s EM-seq for preparation of enzymatically converted libraries, and includes the Twist Methylation Enhancer, Universal Blocker and FastHyb as well as the Twist NGS Custom Methylation Panels. The Custom Panels, a key component of the product, include DNA probes to capture all four potential sequences at a given site: methylated, unmethylated, sense and antisense, and offer the same fidelity, uniformity, and flexibility as Twist Custom Panels. Twist works with customers to create custom content unique to a particular area of focus, allowing flexibility not found using static array designs. This unique feature of the Twist System facilitates exploration of dynamic and cell-specific methylation targets or poorly understood targets found in more elusive noncoding regions at single base pair resolution. Press release.

Waters Corporation announced it has entered a reseller agreement with TetraScience, a cloud technology innovator powering transformational changes in life sciences R&D. Through the partnership, Waters will now offer its customers the Empower Data Science Link, powered by TetraScience. This unique technology pairs Waters’ industry-leading, compliance-ready Empower Chromatography Data System (CDS) with TetraScience’s Data Platform and data science tools, providing unparalleled insights into chromatography data. Empower Data Science Link, powered by TetraScience is a cloud-native technology providing a solution for customers to unlock their Empower data and enable export into third party data analysis tools via standardized formats such as FAIR and Allotrope. Organizations can further accelerate scientific discovery by leveraging TetraScience’s cloud-native architecture, state-of-the-art data science tools, and visualization capabilities. These features enable easier collection, normalization and centralization of data to help expedite development timelines and allow scientists to make better informed and earlier decisions. Press release.

Seven Bridges is supporting Pfizer in the development of a data management and collaboration solution for the biopharmaceutical company’s single-cell ribonucleic acid (RNA) sequencing (scRNASeq) data. Seven Bridges will support Pfizer by centralizing and managing terabytes of raw and processed scRNASeq data. scRNASeq data provides detailed analysis of gene expression in individual cells. The partnership will introduce avenues to expand Pfizer’s cloud platforms and capabilities, a key component of Pfizer’s integrated digital cloud and advanced analytics strategy. Press release.

BC Platforms has entered a collaboration with AI-driven genomics company, Genomenon (Ann Arbor, Michigan USA). The partnership is focused on two fronts. First, with the vision to advance clinical genomics, Genomenon's Mastermind Genomic Search Engine will be integrated into BC Platforms' genomic analysis and interpretation platform BC|GENOME. Second, Mastermind will also be integrated into BC Platforms' research platform BC|INSIGHT to facilitate complex genomic research by simplifying genomic data annotations and thus enabling AI/ML applications. Press release.

BioLizard has launched BioReflect, a flexible literature search platform for biosciences. Using BioReflect, researchers are able to conduct a complete literature search to find the publications most relevant to their research faster than using traditional search tools. After uploading a list of genes and/or proteins of interest, results are provided in an at-a-glance global overview, using topic-based clustering and including the integration of human disease annotations. BioReflect uses state-of-the-art natural language processing and dimension reduction techniques to group publications by their content. This automated clustering provides researchers with immediate insight into the content of thousands of publications and helps them select the most interesting ones, allowing extrapolation to new hypotheses. Press release.

LabCentral, the first-of-its-kind shared laboratory space designed as a launchpad for high-potential biotech startups, today announced a total of $22.4 million in sponsorship commitments for LabCentral 238, a fully functional life sciences laboratory with a focus on scale-up bio-manufacturing. Thermo Fisher Scientific and Waters Corporation join Astellas and the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MSLC) as sponsors. Part of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) South of Main Street (SoMa) Development in the heart of Kendall Square’s innovation hub, LabCentral 238 is currently under construction and is expected to open in November 2021. Press release.

Parse Biosciences announced the North American launch of their Single Cell Whole Transcriptome Kit. The Whole Transcriptome Kit from Parse Biosciences contains everything needed to run a single cell experiment with 100,000 cells across 48 samples. Previously, single cell sequencing solutions demanded that researchers invest in expensive lab equipment to get started. Now, with the launch of Parse Bioscience’s Whole Transcriptome Kit, researchers have a reliable and scalable, end-to-end single cell sequencing technology that utilizes only basic lab equipment. Press release.

nOps has been awarded SOC 2 certification for its SaaS platform. The examination was performed by an independent auditing firm, A-LIGN ASSURANCE. Achieving SOC 2 certification confirms that nOps applies rigorous internal security policies and procedures as it helps customers optimize their AWS infrastructure. A SOC 2 report evaluates companies' systems and processes using the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) Trust Services Categories (TSCs). The TSCs are industry-recognized standards for cloud service providers, software providers and developers, web marketing companies, and financial services organizations. Press release.

Digital Twin Consortium and FIWARE Foundation have entered into a collaborative agreement to accelerate the development, deployment, and wide-scale adoption of open digital twin technologies. Digital twins are growing their capabilities and sophistication. However, grasping their full potential may require integrating systems and data across entire organizational ecosystems. That's exactly where both organizations are set to create value and synergies. As part of the collaboration, both have agreed to collaborate on digital twin standardization requirements, and the open-source implementation of jointly identified standards requirements; realize interoperability, based on information exchange by harmonizing technology components and other elements; and align work in horizontal sectors toward the adoption of results in various vertical domains through reference use cases and pilot projects; and foster adoption among academia, researchers, and companies (among others) of open standards for digital twins and open-source technology, used as reference implementation of such standards. Press release.

The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai has launched a new center for research into light’s impact on health. The Mount Sinai Center for Light and Health Research in the Department of Population Health Science and Policy will expand on Mount Sinai’s research into light’s influence on mental and physical health, including burgeoning areas such as ultraviolet technology disinfection. The clinical research conducted through the Center will investigate how to use light to improve people’s lives by stabilizing their circadian rhythms, the natural internal clock that regulates the body’s sleep-wake cycle. Researchers will study how light, either from daylight or electric indoor light, affects circadian rhythms in various populations, from the very young to the very old, including patients with COVID-19, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, and other illnesses. The goal is to help abate symptoms and improve their sleep, mental health, and cognition. Press release.

Thermo Fisher Scientific has signed an agreement with JW Therapeutics, a leading cell therapy company, to ensure non-exclusive commercial access to Thermo Fisher’s Gibco CTS Dynabeads CD3/CD28. The agreement will support the clinical development and commercial manufacturing of leading CAR-T (Chimeric Antigen Receptor T-Cells) therapies in China, including JW Therapeutics’ lead product relmacabtagene autoleucel (“relma-cel”). Relma-cel is an anti-CD19 CAR-T therapy for third-line treatment for relapsed or refractory (“r/r”) B-cell lymphoma. The therapy’s new drug application (NDA) has been accepted by China's National Medical Products Administration (NMPA). Relma-cel is expected to be the first CAR-T therapy to be approved as a Category 1 biologics product in China. The CTS Dynabeads platform is part of Thermo Fisher’s proven Cell Therapy Systems (CTS) product portfolio designed to ease the transition from clinical development to commercial manufacturing of T-cell therapies. Press release.

Exothera has acquired the NevoLine Upstream manufacturing platform, the latest equipment of Univercells Technologies. Based on principles of intensification and chaining, this high-performance, low-footprint upstream manufacturing platform is an integrated and automated solution for the cost-effective production of viral vaccines, viral vectors, and oncolytic viruses. Installation of the equipment will be within the state-of-the-art GMP plant, based in Jumet, Belgium (Univercells Campus). Exothera will use the NevoLine platform for the manufacturing of viral vector-based gene therapies and viral vaccines. This platform was selected because it offers substantial increases in volumetric productivity, enabling significant development and production cost-reduction opportunity. Press release.