BioDiscovery awarded NIH SBIR grant to improve TCGA copy number profiles
HAWTHORNE, Calif.—BioDiscovery Inc., the maker of Nexus Copy Number software, announced in early July the award of a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase 1 grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to improve the copy number variation (CNV) data from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), and has selected Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) at the University of Utah to assist in developing and validating the new product. The commercial release of the improved TCGA copy number and sequence variant data will reportedly let researchers make further discoveries into tumorigenesis and disease progression and provide a meaningful validation set for internal studies.
“Our techniques for analyzing CNVs from raw data is unique and has proven highly effective, being used and cited in hundreds of publications,” said Dr. Soheil Shams, BioDiscovery’s chief scientific officer. “We are applying methods, algorithms and best practices learned from our experiences in clinical pathology settings to TCGA data. It’s a painstaking process, but the result will be the highest-fidelity CNV data from TCGA and will integrate with our analysis platform to let researchers quickly access and interrogate this database.”
“Copy number aberrations have been established as important drivers of many types of cancer and as distinct from tumor classes driven primarily by somatic mutations,” added Louis Culot, vice president of marketing and business development at BioDiscovery. “The NIH has recognized this, along with BioDiscovery’s unique expertise in CNV data analysis in the issue of this award. We are pleased to begin this work and expect it to have significant impact on further understanding of cancer genetics.”
Dr. Joshua Schiffman, medical director of the High Risk Pediatric Cancer Clinic at HCI and associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Utah, will be the lead investigator on the HCI arm of the project.
“The TCGA project, funded by NIH, has amazing potential but has proven challenging to unlock due to the processing of CNV information and difficulty in data access and analysis,” said Schiffman. “At HCI, we will work with the BioDiscovery team to help test and validate their approach to improved interaction with TCGA data sets. Results from these efforts will further our understanding of many types of cancer and hopefully lead to improved clinical care for patients.”
As part of the SBIR grant, Schiffman will work with BioDiscovery to demonstrate the clinical utility and translational impact of the TCGA data.