19 July 2022
Jake Catterill By Jake Catterill

Bioinformatics Companies Paving the Way for Data Revolution.

Bioinformatics and life science software has grown into a true data revolution over recent years. The amount of medical data we have gained access to in the last decade is vast, and the interpretation, processing, and understanding of this data has generated a wealth of new study and investment across the bioinformatics industry. Amongst this momentum, there are a handful of companies that have gained particularly impressive traction. Any leaders in the bioinformatics space would be wise to become acquainted with their efforts, as they look set to trailblaze through the years ahead.

Next Generation Bioinformatics with Sampled.

In April 2022, market leaders Infinity Biologix (IBX) and Roylance Pharma joined forces to rebrand as Sampled, a next-generation laboratory working to perfect the science of biobanking, bioprocessing and analytics within bioinformatics. By utilising a technologically advanced infrastructure alongside top quality biomaterials, its scientists convert biosamples into renewable resources.

This gives the capability to extend research capabilities under the guidance of the company’s SMART Labs Propositions – ensuring a focus on Storing, Managing, Analysing, Researching, and Transporting biological materials with best practice at its core, and the future front of mind. Through its customised, end-to-end services, optimised for quality, speed, and scale, Sampled claim to ensure the best support for bioinformatics clients across the board.

I spoke with Aaron Venables, CCO, about what the data revolution means for the future of Sampled.

At Sampled we believe that leveraging the power of big data through bioinformatics platforms is one of the leading factors in the success of our industry.

With services ranging from complex bioinformatic storage and analysis to whole genome sequencing, whole exome sequencing, long read and custom panel sequencing, it’s clear there are big things on the horizon for Sampled.

“More and more we’re finding ways to utilize the data held alongside samples for a multitude of benefits from running minimal touch clinical trials to predicting the risk of diseases such as Alzheimer’s.”

Their high sensitivity detection of genetic signposts for disease can sequence smaller targeted genomic regions and more in-depth hereditary disease panels than their competitors. Aaron mentions how core it is the company success having a broad range of fully customisable assessments.

We are proud to be developing industry leading platforms that will enable this paradigm shift and are excited for how these tools will help our clients move forwards, faster.”

With these platforms including the likes of Illumina, PacBio, Fluidigim, ClearDX, and more, no doubt these guys are one to watch.

Digitising the System with BatchX.

A platform for bioinformatics tools that allows users to monetize their tools and pipelines based on their usage, BatchX is headquartered in San José. Brought to life in 2020 by three multidisciplinary founders; Prathik Gadde (UX research, BA), David Castillo (Bioinformatics), and Ignacio del Valle (Software Engineering), they now run a fully remote operation with 11 employees across the US, Spain, France, India, Canada and Belgium. I caught up with Ignacio del Valle Alles, founder, and CTO of BatchX, to discuss how this bioinfomatics innovator was born, and what makes it so special.

I spoke with co-founder, Ignacio del Valle, about bringing the company to life, and what triggered this.

As a computational platform, BatchX competes against the big players in enterprise bioinformatics, DNA Nexus, Seven Bridge [for example], providing reliable computation and storage in the cloud, as well a broad catalogue of ready-to-use tools and pipelines, mainly in the RNA-seq, Metagenomics and Oxford Nanopore areas.”

The inherent difference with BatchX, Ignacio tells me, is its unique differentiation when allowing any user or organisation to expose its tools and pipelines as a service, and receive funds based on other platform users’ usage. This allows open-source creators to generate recurring revenue streams, maintain and improve tools and monetising them more efficiently, at scale, without risking IP.

Whilst they are still awaiting an official public launch, he tells me there are big things on the horizon for the coming 12 months.

We are a team of passionate and like-minded individuals building a one-stop solution to find, share, and run professionally maintained bioinformatics tools.

[This] multi-billion [dollar] market is standing on the shoulders of open-source contributors, and it has failed so far at capturing the deserved value back to them. BatchX wants to help in that regard.”

Speaking to Ignacio truly highlighted the passion and excitement for the future of bioinformatics, and how the mindset of BatchX far surpasses the current market mindset.

We started BatchX to solve the problems we experienced working in the bioinformatics industry for a decade. The industry is operating in a highly bottlenecked and siloed environment. Existing solutions are dated and slowing down scientific advancement. It’s time for software innovation to catch up. We teamed up just to do that.”

Cytocast on the Importance of Computational Capacity.

Cytocast delved deep to recover the realisation and foundation of its company: the value of sufficient data and computational capacity to quantitatively model how proteins work together to form complexes, and how this affects cellular health. After uncovering this key research, it began taking samples from individual patients and processing them to showcase a much more affordable way, creating new opportunities for personalised medicine. The end goal? To create tailored therapies for each and every patient, designed by a computerised model of a human cell.

I caught up with Attila Csikász-Nagy, CEO at Cytocast, to further delve into how Cytocast carved this unique market position.

DNA is still just a blueprint for building proteins, the little machines of our cells. Cytocast focuses on understanding how proteins interact with each other, how diseases and drugs change these interactions, and how these eventually affect cellular health.

By creating the most detailed simulator of protein-protein interactions yet, Cytocast can qualitatively and quantitatively predict drug effects and side effects, providing an in-silico alternative to expensive clinical trials.”

Successfully entering the Bioinformatics market and partnering with pharmaceutical companies to help them with drug discovery, development, and repurposing, is, of course, the main aim for Cytocast in the coming year. However, Attila mentions other focusses too.

In the coming months, we will make our tools available to the wider community through releasing an online test version. We consider ourselves pioneers in personalised medicine, and as such, in the next year, we are continuing to work towards creating the Cytocast Digital Twin: a medical decision support tool for hospitals and clinics that can model the effect of different treatments on individual patients.”

There’s no mistaking the industry is one of the fastest growing in life sciences, driven by the consistent need to digest vast amounts of data generated by various omics techniques, which only continue to become cheaper and faster.

Attila comments that,

the current market competitors actually [only] offer complementary services… which address questions from a different angle, and answer them with different technology.”

Since these computational, simulation or AI-based technologies are not yet fully ‘accepted’ by the general public, pharma companies and physicians, he sees the opportunity is

truly in join[ing] forces to convince them about [their] predictive power… we believe that by partnering with some of these companies we can look at the human body and the cells within it from a unique angle.”

Cytocast’s computer simulation enables the identification of new targets to test the effect of biological perturbations (such as gene editing, drug administration, etc.). Through beginning tests of a simulation-centric pipeline to design personalised therapies with partnered institutes. The ultimate goal? Enabling personalised models based on patient specific data, providing optimal therapies for each and every one.

What Can We Expect For Bioinformatics?

It’s clear that the bioinformatics industry is at an incredibly exciting moment, and as the medical data revolution only looks set to grow further, I don’t expect this momentum to slow down anytime soon. This wealth of data offers incredible possibilities for research, future diagnostics, and the treatment and management of chronic diseases that have a stronghold throughout our natural world. Companies in the bioinformatics space that lead with curiosity and innovation are truly the ones to watch and promise some great developments over the next five to ten years in terms of industry development and future innovation.

I'll certainly be keeping an eye on opportunities for emerging companies as this space continues to develop and technologies adapt. Want to discuss what's next in bioinformatics, data or no data, in some more detail? Let’s chat!

Drop me a message at jake.catterill@lifesci-cm.com or connect with me on LinkedIn.

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Charlton Morris is a Talent Solutions business who offer search, contract, volume and employer branding solutions to the industrial markets.

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Jake Catterill

Jake Catterill is a specialist in the Life Science Software space, working with a range of exciting Biotech companies who focus on software and data science. Specialising in hires ranging from mid-management to C-Level appointments, Jake boasts an international network dedicated completely to this space.

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