With nearly 3,000 employees, Finnish industrial R&D firm VTT has a strong presence from northern Europe to Silicon Valley. Now, with the upcoming launch of megNet — a software tool designed to integrate ’omics data with higher-level images of cells and tissues — that presence could become even stronger, especially in the cardiology sector, where the company sees keen demand for such software.
MegNet’s chief research scientist, Matej Oresic of VTT’s Technical Research Center in Finland, says the software “is of particular interest to large healthcare companies like GE Healthcare and Phillips.”
The new software, which will be commercially available in the fall, follows a series of VTT entrees into the biotech domain. “Traditionally, the company has served the metabolic engineering domains such as bioethanol, nutrition, and protein production from microbes and engineering plants for production of high-value chemicals,” Oresic says.
The company also has a presence in IT, developing software for Nokia and simulation software for Rolls Royce airplane engines. VTT has also entered the systems biology field, combining its expertise in both IT and biotech.
Now with 3D imaging tool megNet, VTT seeks to marry ’omics data and magnetic imaging.
The software is designed to do this in a variety of ways, such as by quantifying image data and serum metabolic profiles for metabolic fingerprinting. “The data will be combined within the megNet framework, both for potential diagnostic purposes as well as interpretation,” says Oresic.
In proof-of-concept studies, Oresic says, VTT used the software to integrate data from several sources and to reconstruct biological pathways in order to successfully identify two pathways leading to the production of ceramides, toxic lipids known to affect insulin sensitivity. “Interestingly, our findings were recently confirmed independently since pharmacological inhibition of one of the pathways led to an increase in insulin sensitivity,” he says.
— Laurie Wiegler
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