Is bioinformatics still a viable career choice or a business model?

If you are on linkedin take a look at the question posted by Jake Chen, Founding Director at Indiana Center for Systems Biology and Personalized Medicine.

One area where bioinformatics havn’t experimented a lot is probably adopting SaaS (software as a service) methodology for growth. Software being developed for scientists is still not that user-friendly. Bioinformatics have evolved; but has it been hijacked by engineers?.

Though bioinformatics companies have lost the sheen, the growing need for data analysis is unmistakable , with more large genome projects being announced everyday.

1996-2002 was a period when bioinformatics was the darling of budding entrepreneurs and scientists the world over. Depending on your point of view the industry is now either passé or futuristic. The only ones that made money were the equipment companies and the those making reagents. Propelling the acquisitions phase that is still going on, transforming most of the erstwhile famous names from pure play bioinformatics to drug discovery/development services companies.

The future is there as a CEO puts it “We’re just at the tip of the iceberg of addressing the real problem — helping scientists understand how to use software to make a discovery,”

surprisingly given below is a quote I found in the website of the Stanford University Center for Molecular and Genetic Medicine , for the class on introduction to bioinformatics for fall-quarter 2007. here is the actual link . I hope am not going to be denied an admission there for posting this. But I agree with it completely, and its time for the industry to take note

“There are a wide variety of companies trying to commercialize bioinformatics. Some of these businesses have been around for many years, but a lot of them are just jumping in with nothing but hype to sell, trying and gain some market share and position themselves as “leaders” in the new area of genomics, hoping to become profitable or get bought out before the venture capital funds dry up”.

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Affymetrix and Illumina in war path again as fresh patent litigation on microarray patents

Illumina and Affymetrix have been in a patent battle since 2004. In its second wave of patent infringement litigation cas against illumina filed in UK, Germany and US, Affymetrix has targeted technology offered by Solexa, the company acquired by Illumina in January 2007, as well as all of Illumina’s BeadArray(TM) products.

The new case is for patents 5,902,723, 6,403,320, 6,420,169, 6,576,42, 7,056,666, 0834575, 0853679, 0799897

Affymetrix previously sued Illumina for patent infringement in 2004 in the United States District Court for the District of Delaware. In March 2007, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Affymetrix.

Affymetrix has developed one of the industry’s strongest patent portfolios, featuring more than 400 patents granted in the U.S. and more than 40 patents granted in Europe.

More details on the case is available at Affymetrix Investor Website

Things have improved for Affymetrix this year, The company has aposted Q3 profits with the company’s revenues for the quarter increasing 12 per cent to $94.9m compared with $84.7m during the same period last year.

The results of these lawsuits could dramatically change the face of the DNA microarray market that has seen such growth due to the application of genetic information to drug discovery and ‘personalised medicine’.

 

Gene Logic sells in genomics division

It hardly a week I have wrote about acquisition and mergers , it seems the rain is noit going to stop any time soon, the latest one , to give away the home plate is Genelogic agreeing to sell its genomics division to India HQ Ocimum Biosolutions subject to the authorization of the transaction at a special meeting of shareholders of Gene Logic.

This is a transforming event of significant strategic proportion,” said Charles L. Dimmler, III, President and Chief Executive Officer of Gene Logic.

Genelogic bought its preclinical division from TherImmune, a Gaithersburg company, in April 2003 for $51 million which was sold to Bridge Pharmaceuticals for $15 Million,

Gene Logic Inc said it agreed to sell its Genomics assets to Ocimum Biosolutions Ltd for $10 million in cash. Under the terms of the Ocimum sale agreement, Gene Logic retains full rights in perpetuity to utilize the existing information data bases of its former Genomics business as key elements in building its emerging drug repositioning and development business. Furthermore, the Company will retain specified assets related to molecular diagnostics and will continue to explore strategic alternatives for these assets

The sale is part of the Genelogic new strategy to focus on to build drug repositioning and development business which was decided last year.

Ocium will assume certain liabilities associated with the Genomics assets and business and will pay Gene Logic $7 million at closing and $3 million payable in a promissory note due 18 months from closing.

The purchase includes Gene Logic’s Knowledge Products business including the The BioExpress® System a continually growing genomic database of gene expression data and associated clinical information from over 18,000 human and animal tissues and cell line samples. ToxExpress® a toxicogenomics reference database.

Ocimum will continue to operate the business out of the current state-of-the-art laboratory facility of Gene Logic in Gaithersburg, Maryland.

Mergers Acquisitions Consolidation-Microarray Industry bubble in making- The days are numbered

Bioinformatics promise has already had its brush with plenty of resistance, not it seems the time for microarray industry with consolidation and acqusitions and megers announced almost every week. The slow adoption and too many fragmented with disparate standards has made the industry a victim of its own success.

the new kid on the block to unload its microarray and genomics business include Nanogen with its plans to unload its loss making microarray business, While the most of the biotech IPO featured in the market in the last 6 month in US have failed to generate expected results.

But pharmaceutical firms are racing to buy up biotech firms Roche has acquired 454 Life science,and Nimblegen and now Bristol-Myers Squibb is buying Adnexus Therapeutics for $430 million. Wyeth has bought Haptogen Ltd, which emerged from Aberdeen University five years ago, pharmaceutical firm Wyeth is the fourth largest biotechnology company in the world. PerkinElmer is planning to buy the cord blood banking firm Viacell Inc

On the the report of Bradstreet Israel warning on Sunday that majority of Israel’s publicly-traded biotechnology companies will be forced to halt their research and development activities in as little as two-and-a-half years if they do not alter their business strategies immediately, research company Dun & In many cases, biotech companies are not doing sales, but only conducting research programs,” said Reuven Kuvent, director-general of D&B Israel. “They don’t focus enough on raising capital or attracting investor things they must do if they intend to continue to be operational over the next few years.”

While Asian genomics and biotech companies like Biocon which recently sold its enzu=yem business to NovoZyme and Strand Genomics which was selected as TECHNOLOGY PIONEERS 2007 by World Ecconomic Forum and smaller startups like Ocimum Biosolutions which are now pumping vast amount of funds into acquiring genomics business across US and Europe are waiting inthe wings to take off . Still there are others racing to create the cheapest microarray and sequencing methods only time will tell theeir fate,

Laying with the Lions

The following article is one of the best I just came across which talkes about advantages of better collaboration in pharma companies.

 

The study and articles are on Act Magazine website

 

Growing like IT companies- can Biotech do the magic

Information technologies have significantly contributed to the evolution of work over the last fifty years. At first, IT was primarily applied to automate back office, highly repetitive and fairly standardized tasks, such as financial transactions, payroll, and inventory management.

Customer self-service was arguably the commercial killer-app of the Web in the ’90s. Now giving way to SOA and web collaboration technology, and the SaaS

So where does that put the pharma and biotech industry, we are not so famous for collaboration within the industry. The blatant patent wars and the triumphs to outdo the competitor by developing better and blockbuster drugs have certainly not contributed much to the developemnt of Drug industry in ways that supported the end users/customers. Infact the majority of the big inventions in the last 25 years were borne out of intelligent observations rather than from technological marvels, most of them were the bi product or came across as a lightning discovery during some other research projects.

That role is changing atleast now IT is looked upon and using it to drive business innovation. The involvement is present at every department, from Collaborative drug designing, Online Data sharing, ERP, CRM, use of enterprise systems in clinical research and post launch studies and Business intelligence

Better adoption of IT can dramatically improve the efficiency of and drive business innovation  even using internet to speedup clinical research

Its interesting to learn about Conformia a company that claims to do so by Product performance and life cycle managemnet software for pharmaceutical product development industry and people seem to take attention -SAP an Enterprise application provider has mae investment in joint collaboration with conformia

Perhaps it time we see some major investment and IT helping Pharma companies in post product launch studies, to this date pharma companies do not have enough access to pefroamce data of the drugs present in the market , since hopsitlas and GPs will not like to part with data. Perhaps cost effective IT services might help in avoiding vioxx like incidents by giving pharma companies access to patient data,

Such improvements can only cement the future of genomics /personnal medicine such as samller steps are taken in this direction such as the  Large-Scale Medical Sequencing Clinical Research 

Is the SBIR grant program is unfairly towards small biotech companies

28 patient organizations joined BIO in asking Congress to restore eligibility to venture-backed biotech companies to “help innovative research move forward in order to foster breakthrough cures.”

Under the SBA’s new rules, companies with more than 50 percent of their backing from venture capital can’t compete for grants

 Biotech industry calls on Congress to change grant program

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