Broad Optimizes for Google Cloud, Intel and Seven Bridges Population Genomics Tool, More

October 29, 2021

October 29, 2021 | Pistoia sets new life sciences strategy, Charles River Labs announces cryo-EM partnership, AION Labs launch as alliance between AstraZeneca, Merck, Pfizer, and Teva, and Vertex and Mammoth launch CRISPR partnership. Plus new products from Waters, PerkinElmer, Thermo Scientific and more.

The Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard has optimized its workflows for fast, cost-effective Google N1 and N2 instances. Compared to the initial deployment of workloads on Google Cloud, the collaboration resulted in an 85% reduction in cost of data processing after optimization. To adapt to a dramatic increase in genomics data generation and computational research demand, the Broad Institute migrated its workloads to Google Cloud N2 instances. By modularizing its pipeline workflows, right-sizing cloud instances based on the needs of the workload and optimizing for Intel Xeon Scalable processors, the Broad Institute users can run its genomics workflows on Google Cloud about 25% faster and at 34% lower cost by deploying on N2 instances with Xeon Scalable processors. Intel worked with the Broad Institute to help optimize its pipelines on Google Cloud. For example, specific kernels in the Genome Analytics Toolkit are optimized for vector operations with Intel Advanced Vector Extensions 512 (Intel AVX-512). Some optimized storage functions use the Intel Intelligent Storage Acceleration Library (Intel ISA-L). Seeking to realize a wider life sciences ecosystem vision, the Broad Institute, Microsoft and Verily co-developed the Terra platform, a scalable and secure platform for biomedical researchers worldwide to access data, run analysis tools and collaborate. Terra is built on cloud infrastructure, allowing the Broad Institute to scale easily and empower the research community with new capabilities for the benefit of research into solutions for human disease. Press release.


The Pistoia Alliance has set out plans to respond to the changing needs of the life science industry as digital transformation accelerates. The Alliance will reorganize its project portfolio into three new themes—Emerging Science and Technology, Improving the Efficiency and Effectiveness of R&D, and Empowering the Patient—and has hired three innovation leads for each area. The themes were developed by the Alliance in consultation with its members, its Advisory Board, and through reviewing scientific literature and trends. The themes will build on the work of the Alliance from the past fifteen years; helping R&D-led organizations tackle the biggest global health challenges both today and in the future with the ultimate goal of getting treatments to patients faster. Press release.


The National Institutes of Health has launched a program to study a rare type of cells, called “senescent” cells, that play both positive and negative roles in biological processes. The NIH Common Fund’s Cellular Senescence Network (SenNet) program will leverage recent advances in studying individual cells, or single-cell analysis, to comprehensively identify and characterize the differences in senescent cells across the body, across various states of human health, and across the lifespan. The rarity and diversity of these cells previously made them difficult to identify and study; therefore, a deeper understanding will help researchers develop therapies that encourage beneficial effects of senescent cells while suppressing their tissue-damaging effects. Learn more.


Seven Bridges has announced that ARIA, the company's cloud-based solution to help researchers integrate and analyze complex sets of genomic data at the population level, is now available broadly to North American and European biopharmaceutical companies that are looking to advance drug development. Since the initial announcement of ARIA in February 2020, Seven Bridges has partnered with research institutes and commercial agencies, using ARIA to drive insights from data at the million-participants scale and above. Results from these pilot programs have demonstrated that ARIA can accelerate the speed to insights through a broad set of dynamic capabilities, including support for a wide variety of rich data models and integrations and user-configurable dashboards, as well as the reduction of query times. Now, Seven Bridges is pleased to offer ARIA for biopharmaceutical and clinical researchers to improve and accelerate discovery of outcomes using clinical and genomics data at population scale. Press release.


Bionano Genomics has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire BioDiscovery, Inc., a leading software company with best-in-class solutions for analysis, interpretation and reporting of genomics data. The transaction is expected to accelerate and broaden Bionano’s market leadership in digital cytogenetics and comprehensive genome analysis. As a result of the transaction, Soheil Shams, PhD, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of BioDiscovery, will join Bionano’s leadership team as Chief Informatics Officer. The transaction is expected to enhance Bionano’s position in variant analysis and genomics. Press release.


Lantern Pharma has announced a collaboration that will power A.I.-driven computational research for oncology-focused drug discovery and development with Code Ocean, the leading computational research environment for sharing scientific discoveries. By leveraging Code Ocean's Compute Capsule technology, the strategic approach is expected to further power Lantern Pharma's RADR platform for faster, more collaborative discoveries from billions of RADR data points, as well as data and insights from Lantern's network of collaborators. Through this collaboration, Lantern Pharma is expected to benefit from significant efficiencies in development time and cost, as well as increased reproducibility from Code Ocean's platform. The Code Ocean platform will offer an easy to use, collaborative research experience with an integrated development environment, secure repository, and portable Compute Capsule technology for guaranteed reproducibility. Press release.


Waters has solved two notable issues in chromatography with the new Waters Atlantis Premier BEH Z-HILIC Column. For chromatographers performing untargeted metabolite profiling experiments, quantifying all of the polar metabolites in a serum or plasma sample requires a column chemistry that can adequately retain both moderately and highly polar analytes in a single run. Often moderately polar neutral compounds go undetected or elute with matrix interferences in the void; due to inadequate retention on existing commercial HILIC columns. Further complicating matters, certain polar metabolites are phosphorylated or carboxylated causing them to adsorb onto the metal surfaces of stainless steel columns which means they may never elute from the column so they can be quantified. To work around this problem, chromatographers must condition their column for several hours before they can run their first sample. Waters’ new column solves both of these issues. The new column features a high retentive ethylene-bridged hybrid (BEH) organic/inorganic zwitterionic HILIC chemistry packed into MaxPeak High Performance Surface (HPS) column hardware. MaxPeak HPS is a new and novel technology that mitigates the unwanted interactions between metal sensitive analytes and the metal ions in the flow path. The Atlantis Premier BEH Z-HILIC Column increases the retention of polar-neutral metabolites by 2X and obviates the need for lengthy column conditioning protocols. It is available in sub-two -micron, a 2.5 micron and a 5-micron particle sizes. More information.


Vertex Pharmaceuticals and Mammoth Biosciences (founded by Jennifer Doudna) have announced a new partnership to develop in vivo gene-editing therapies for two genetic diseases using Mammoth’s next-generation CRISPR systems. Under the terms of the agreement, Mammoth Biosciences will receive upfront payments of $41 million, including an investment in the form of a convertible note, and is eligible to receive up to $650 million in potential future payments based upon the successful achievement of prespecified research, development, and commercial milestones across two potential programs. In addition, Vertex will pay tiered royalties on future net sales on any products that may result from this collaboration. Press release.


Biolife Solutions and its biological material storage brand, SciSafe, have opened a new 40,000 square-foot biorepository Center of Excellence in Amsterdam, adjacent to the Schiphol Airport. This facility, already partially contracted to an anchor major pharmaceutical customer, will include a CAR-T cell storage suite to support development of emerging CAR-T cell treatments and boasts a freezer farm of 300+ Stirling Ultracold ultra-low temperature ("ULT") freezers for biopreservation of customers' temperature sensitive biologic material. European pharmaceutical manufacturers are expanding their existing partnerships with SciSafe by utilizing this new Amsterdam storage facility to improve global access to lifesaving biologic therapies. Press release.


PerkinElmer has announced the launch of its Signals Research Suite, a full cloud-based solution, deployed on Amazon Web Services. The suite is a secure, informatics platform, providing integrated, end-to-end scientific data and workflow management for pharmaceutical and industrial customers. Designed to help drive more informed and accelerated decision making around drug, compound, and formulation candidates, the offering brings together PerkinElmer’s leading informatics technologies across data access, processing, enhanced analytics and collaboration. Signals Research Suite seamlessly brings together PerkinElmer Informatics’ Signals Notebook offering, the market’s most popular and fastest growing cloud-based, electronic lab notebook, with the Signals VitroVivo 3.0 (formerly Signals Screening) platform, a leading data processing solution for unprecedented flexibility, plus the Signals Inventa 3.0 (formerly Signals Lead Discovery) platform, an innovative and highly scalable data management, integration and analytics technology. This combination fuels data-driven decision making by providing intuitive and powerful data capture, search, publishing and sharing, raw data conversion from other systems and sources, and next generation visual analytics and predictive modeling. The suite is designed to reduce experiment cycles and increase reproducibility. Press release


10x Genomics marked a major Asia Pacific (APAC) expansion with the grand opening celebration of its Singapore manufacturing facility and commercial hub. The addition of the company’s first manufacturing facility outside the U.S. is part of 10x Genomics’ ongoing investments to integrate and scale its operations network to build a more robust supply chain and better serve customers globally. The manufacturing center provides additional capacity for 10x Genomics’ leading portfolio of consumables for single-cell and spatial analysis. The site also serves as the APAC commercial hub, strengthening the company’s in-region sales, marketing and customer support capabilities. 10x Genomics’ Singapore hub occupies more than 53,000 square feet of the Solaris@Kallang 164 complex, including state-of-the art, automated production suites for reagent manufacturing and a fully equipped, Biosafety Level-2 lab for training customers and partners on all 10x Genomics’ single cell and spatial technologies. The site, which began initial operations in late 2020, also includes a distribution center, supporting warehouse space and open office areas that encourage collaboration and teamwork. 10x Genomics currently employs more than 80 employees in Singapore in manufacturing, corporate functions and commercial roles. Press release.


SambaNova Systems, the company building the industry’s most advanced software, hardware and services to run AI applications, has announced the availability of the company’s Generative Pre-trained Transformer (GPT) language model included in SambaNova’s Dataflow-as-a-Service for language—increasing the capability of SambaNova’s Natural Language Processing (NLP) model with unmatched speed and accuracy, and equalizing opportunity for enterprises to jump-start AI language applications overnight. SambaNova’s Dataflow-as-a-Service for language now with GPT introduces a full suite of Natural Language Processing for production and deployment of language models. The language model uses deep learning to produce human-like text leveraging large amounts of data and is the first enterprise-grade large AI language model and services offering on the market designed for the most business and mission critical text- and document-based use cases, not just hypotheses. Press release.


Absci Corporation has opened its new campus located in Vancouver, Washington, a few miles east of the downtown location that housed the company for the last four years. The scalable laboratory space was designed to maximize flow, increase capacity, and readily reconfigure as needed. In addition to tripling capacity for program execution, the incorporation of in-house tissue culture capabilities, high throughput analytical instrumentation, advanced liquid handling and automation, and a dedicated clean air fermentation facility, in conjunction with a state-of-the-art offsite computational cluster, facilitate the expanded scope of Absci’s research and development activities. Additionally, integrated technologies for high volume data capture across Absci’s workflow generate the input for ongoing training of Absci’s Denovium Engine deep learning AI models for drug discovery and cell line design. Press release.


Genesis Research has announced new enhancements to EVID AI, the world’s largest current healthcare literature research platform, that helps pharma teams and other healthcare decision makers find high quality, targeted results faster, more efficiently and from an unprecedented breadth of sources. EVID AI is the only healthcare literature database that uses machine learning to produce more than 80 million data points—from pre-clinical, clinical, economic, epidemiology, patient reported outcomes and review focus areas—and allows users to filter search results to only the most relevant, current information needed for further analysis. Researchers can quickly retrieve only what they’re looking for—outcomes, survival results, safety, efficacy, healthcare utilization, costs, epidemiology, etc.—and avoid irrelevant articles. Pharmaceutical manufacturers, payers, governments agencies, and other healthcare decisionmakers can use this platform internally or engage a Genesis Research team for additional support. Press release.


UPM Biomedicals and Cellbox Solutions have signed an agreement to provide a unique live cell shipment solution. This plant-derived, animal-free transport technology for living cell and tissue cultures will allow shipping of live 3D cell assays between researchers and pharmaceutical companies. Combining UPM’s nanocellulose-based hydrogels and Cellbox’s portable CO2 incubators offers protection from mechanical stress to maintain cell activity during transportation. This allows the transport of even the most complex and sensitive cell cultures, while enabling easy recovery of the cells post-transport. Press release.


PerkinElmer and Honeycomb Biotechnologies have announced the commercial launch of the first of its kind HIVETM scRNAseq Solution for single-cell isolation and analysis. The HIVE solution leverages a portable, handheld device for the capture, storage and RNA-Seq library preparation of a diverse range of cell types, including fragile and labile cells such as granulocytes, nephrons, hepatocytes and neurons. The HIVE solution requires no specialized instrumentation to use and expands opportunities for laboratories pursuing basic, translational, clinical and preclinical research. Biological resolution at the level of individual cells is powering the next phase of precision health. By integrating sample capture and preservation into a single-use device, the HIVE solution makes it possible to collect samples from multiple sites and maintain sample integrity during storage, shipping and processing from a central testing lab. This provides unparalleled workflow efficiency and sample processing consistency through centralized analysis, which is of particular importance for multi-center studies. Press release.


Charles River Laboratories International and ATEM Structural Discovery (ATEM) have formed a strategic partnership to provide clients access to ATEM’s cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) service solutions. ATEM’s leading platform integrates highly optimized biochemistry, hardware, and software to provide in-depth structural insights about challenging targets at a commercial scale. ATEM’s technology directly images vitrified biological macromolecules in single-particle experiments at high resolution. Subsequently, reconstructed coulomb potential maps then allow the precise modeling of 3D atomic coordinates that elucidate the target structure. This leads to the identification of novel distinct binding sites and significantly improves the discovery of drug candidates. By combining ATEM’s cryo-EM expertise with Charles River’s end-to-end capabilities, the alliance has the potential to significantly accelerate drug discovery efforts from hit design through to lead optimization. Press release.


The new Thermo Scientific TSB Series of blood bank refrigerators provides best-in-class quality, while supporting laboratories’ sustainability goals. Healthcare professionals, and those working in clinical research, can now benefit from a new range of fully compliant and sustainable refrigerators designed specifically for the cold storage of blood and blood-related products and samples. The Thermo Scientific TSB Series of blood bank refrigerators are built to comply with the Class IIa regulation 93/42/CE and come with a 12-month warranty. Factory presets to +4°C enable all models to meet blood storage guidelines, while the use of F-gas compliant hydrocarbon green refrigerants helps limit environmental impact. Low energy consumption of all models in the series and real-time monitoring ensure low energy use and heat output, contributing to the product’s sustainability attributes. Additionally, onboard datalogging tracks temperatures to ensure optimum storage conditions, so users can take corrective action where necessary. Available in a range of sizes to suit any workspace, from 140L undercounter models to 1,500L double door refrigerators, the TSB Series range boasts additional features, including an almost-silent operation, a convenient and easy to use touchscreen, fully extendable and adjustable drawers, and triple-pane glass doors. For more information about the Thermo Scientific TSB Series of blood bank refrigerators, please visit the Thermo Fisher Scientific website. Press release.


AION Labs has launched and opened its international headquarters. The alliance of four leading pharmaceutical companies—AstraZeneca, Merck, Pfizer and Teva—and two leaders in the hi-tech and biotech investment sphere—Amazon Web Services and Israel Biotech Fund—has come together with the aim of building groundbreaking AI and computational ventures that will leverage the cloud to transform how new therapies are discovered and developed. The launch of this consortium of global leaders follows the winning of a government tender to establish an Innovation Lab in December 2020 after the Israel Innovation Authority identified life sciences as a vital area for growth potential and investment. AION Labs will create and invest in early-stage start-up teams focused on AI and computational biology in drug discovery and development, offering each of them top-notch resources and mentorship while working closely with them to develop new technologies that meet the most acute and significant challenges in the pharmaceutical industry. Each start-up will harness the power of artificial intelligence, and scale and security of the cloud, to find new treatments faster and more efficiently, avoid animal experiments, and advance healthcare towards patient-centric precision medicine. Press release.