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Integromics Targets Microarray Market With Biomarker-Discovery Software Tool

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Integromics, a Granada, Spain-based bioinformatics shop, later this month will release a new software tool that targets end users involved in microarray research, the company said this week.
 
Called Integromics Biomarker Discovery, or IBD, the software tool is designed to complement the firm’s existing data-analysis products and its laboratory information-management system, and is meant to expand its stake in what one official called a “very healthy” market.
 
Founded in 2002, Integromics has to date focused on selling a LIMS called ArrayHub, as well as a gene expression qPCR analysis tool called StatMiner. Additionally, the company sells secondary analysis tools for quantitative PCR experiments, resources that commercial director Imad Yassin said are used in Integromics’ new software.
 
“The IBD release is intended to bring on board our array users,” Yassin told BioArray News this week. “We have been quite successful in building applications that are used for qPCR analysis, and we are bringing it to IBD in combination with other tools to provide a full biomarkers suite.”
 
According to Yassin, the first version of IBD is designed to work with data from both Affymetrix and two-channel platforms such as Agilent. The software, which has not yet been priced, is designed to offer interactive experiment design and visualization; enable researchers to study background signal values; perform quality control; and provide filter methods, inter- and intra-array normalization, and differential expression analysis.
 
IBD also offers a host of analytical features, such as SAM, eBayes-moderated t-statistic, and false-discovery rate, as well as a number of clustering algorithms and tools for comparative genomic hybridization analysis.
 
The software is designed to work with Spotfire’s DecisionSite and the Bioconductor open-source software suite. Yassin said that Integromics designed IBD to reach customers that are unfamiliar with both platforms and who are looking for an easy-to-use data-analysis tool for biomarker discovery work.
 
“Expert tools like Bioconductor that are industry standards have been limited to people that have been able to do R programming and are very specialized,” said Yassin. “We have the expertise to bring these tools to end users,” he said. “We have built guided tools for the client to input data, quantitate it, visualize it, get accurate results every time, and ask detailed scientific questions out of the data,” he said.
 
Yassin said that the visualization capabilities gained by using the new software plus the additional algorithms justify upgrading customers to IBD from their existing Integromics setups. “We have worked pretty closely with Spotfire and we have seen that the new functionality of this platform is exciting for our customers,” Yassin said. “Spotfire has invested a lot in bringing their new technology online and we have extended and built new algorithms and guided workflows. From the visualization point of view alone, it makes sense for [customers] to upgrade.”
 

“Over the past 10 years, we have seen magnificent technologies appear and disappear.”

It’s not the first time Integromics and Spotfire have worked together. In February, the duo began developing a genomics platform for the region of Andalusia in southern Spain. Integromics was selected to create the platform using Spotfire's suite of products to give university, hospital, and laboratory researchers in the region an interactive and visual approach to data analysis (see BAN 2/19/2008).
 
Yassin said Integromics plans to release follow-on upgrades to IBD. Early next year, the tool will be able to import data from other widely used microarray platforms, such as the BeadArray platform sold by Illumina, Yassin said. He said that when it comes to sales and marketing, much of Integromics strategy relies on reaching users online.
 
“More and more people use the Internet as a resource for information and education about our products,” said Yassin. “We provide a lot of information through our website, and we will offer online interactive web trainings where clients can download trial packages, get help on how to use our applications.”
 
Integromics has also been making the rounds at trade shows. The company gave potential users a preview of IBD at the Microarray Gene Expression Data society meeting in Riva del Garda, Italy. This week, the firm is presenting at Advances in qPCR, held in Stockholm. Beyond Europe, Integromics’ office in Philadelphia, opened in October 2007, will support the North American roll-out of IBD, while the firm will rely on distributor CeresBioscience to reach customers in Japan and the broader Asia-Pacific market.
 
The Market
 
For Integromics, the market for IBD is shaped by not only offerings by rival bioinformatics companies, such as St. Louis-based Partek or Munich, Germany-based Genomatix, but the growing number of open-source platforms and home-built informatics solutions.
 
In order to reach customers, many of whom are accustomed to going it alone when it comes to informatics challenges, Yassin said that Integromics draws on its experience in the research market to break the ice.
 
“Over the past 10 years we have seen magnificent analysis tools appear and disappear,” he said. “Having come from the research side of the market, we are able to take what is relevant to researchers and give them a package that is well supported and well built that they can use themselves. So far it has been quite a healthy market for us.”
 
He added that the company’s free trial policy gives prospective customers access to Integromics that can later lead to a more intense customer relationship. “The nice thing is to be in a business where you are working with scientists, because they are always willing to see what is new,” he said. “When people try what we have to offer, they are able to understand why we are better.”
 
The company is also looking to upgrade customers to IBD that are existing users of its LIMS or data analysis tools. “In reality, IBD fits into our entire family of products,” said Yassin.

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