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A ‘crossomics’ collaboration
August 2009
by Lloyd Dunlap  |  Email the author
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BASEL, Switzerland—In the continuation of a string of successes that has seen the company become the putative market leader, Genedata has added Chugai Pharmaceuticals to its customer list.

According to Dr. Othmar Pfannes, CEO of Genedata, in approximately three years, Genedata has won eight of the top 10 Japanese pharmas as customers for its Expressionist system to streamline their internal R&D process for biomarker discovery and personalized medicine. Globally, Pfannes adds, Genedata now serves 30 of the top 50 pharmas.

"Many claims are made," Pfannes says, making one of his own, "but there are not many enterprise systems out there that are organization-wide and where all can participate from many sites."

Pfannes notes that the company he considers to be Genedata's biggest competitor, Rosetta Biosoftware, was recently acquired by Microsoft's Amalga Life Sciences unit.

As part of their work in oncology and chronic diseases, researchers at Chugai have used Expressionist to perform a one-step, enterprise-wide normalization on their entire microarray data pool. Expressionist was also used to standardize the workflow-based microarray quality control process and obtain fully comparable data for subsequent data analysis.

"We are working with tens of thousands of GeneChip data sets. In the past, we were limited to normalizing small batches at a time. With Expressionist, we can normalize the entire data set in one go," says Junichi Muroya, member of the bioinformatics team at Chugai. "This has greatly increased processing speed, facilitated sophisticated software analysis and improved the quality of our results significantly."

Genedata Expressionist is an enterprise solution that was 12 years in development, Pfannes notes. It integrates, stores and analyzes transcriptomics, proteomics and metabolomics data as well as a wide variety of phenotypic data.

"From a scientific viewpoint," he adds, "it also supports 'crossomics,' the ability to look at proteins and metabolites at the same time, for example."

Expressionist consists of several modules that support high-throughput, standardized and workflow-based data processing and statistical analysis.

"It fits to a large variety of pharmaceutical, biotechnological and agricultural R&D processes," Pfannes adds. The software-based system is installed on customers' computers with different levels of programming for end users and experts. The system is "user-friendly" and low maintenance, Pfannes says.

In addition to Expressionist, the company provides Genedata Phylosopher for target discovery and integrative biological data management and Genedata Screener for automated high-throughput screening and high-content screening. The company is privately held, with offices in Boston and San Francisco; Konstanz and Munich, Germany; and Tokyo.

"Our goal is to continue our growth pattern of 30 percent per year," he says, and adds that Genedata will have a new product to release in six months. In addition to personalized medicine, which he notes is a "big target," the company is also aiming for growth in the agricultural space, cosmetics and biofuels, all areas where profiling compounds to enhance yields and the effect of active ingredients offer attractive potential.

Since October 2002, Chugai has pursued prescription pharmaceutical R&D activities in Japan and abroad as a member of the Roche Group. Specifically, Chugai is focusing on the oncology and chronic disease areas. Outside Japan, Chugai Pharma USA and Chugai Pharma Europe are engaged in clinical development activities in the United States and Europe. The consolidated sales in 2008 of Chugai totaled $3.5 billion and the operating profit was $553 million. In March, its shares fell as much as 11 percent after Chugai reported 15 deaths among people who had used its Actemra drug for rheumatoid arthritis. Actemra won approval in Europe in January, but has not been approved in the U.S.
 
 
Code: E080912

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