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British Firm Geneix Seeks to Build Business on Pharmacogenetics Software Service


NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – London -based bioinformatics firm Geneix is seeking to make its bread and butter by offering pharmacogenetics analysis software to help physicians provide their patients with more personalized therapy options.

The company has developed a bioinformatics pipeline that analyzes patients' sequence information and culls published literature to generate personal drug response profiles that describe how likely the patient is to respond to different treatments and highlight potential adverse drug reactions. The system also checks for drug-drug interactions, dose safety, and possible drug allergies.

The system isn't yet commercially available and doesn't have a hard launch date, as Genix is still refining it and getting it validated and tested in hospitals, Mark Bartlett, Geneix's founder and managing director, told GenomeWeb. The company is currently holding talks with two London-based hospitals and hopes to have signed agreements with them soon, he said.

When it does launch, Geneix will offer its solution under a software-as-a-service model where customers will likely be charged on a per-run basis, Bartlett said. The exact price point is still to be determined. The company plans to target the product to public and private hospitals and healthcare systems as well as testing laboratories first in the UK and then other parts of Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.

Bartlett founded Geneix two years ago after a stint with the UK's National Health Service with the goal of providing tools to help physicians better integrate genetic information in routine clinical use. Currently, there's quite a lot of evidence from the pharmacogenetics domain that could be brought to bear on patients' care, but interpreting and integrating that information remains a bottleneck for physicians, he told GenomeWeb.

At first, Geneix developed and planned to market an electronic prescribing tool, dubbed Interact, that allowed doctors to search for information about drug-drug interactions, Bartlett said, with the goal of adding in drug-gene interactions over time. However, getting that software integrated into hospitals' workflows proved problematic because of requirements set down by the NHS to govern the way software is purchased and used in UK hospitals, he said. Geneix then shifted its focus to providing an analysis pipeline that allows physicians to take advantage of existing information on genes of pharmacogenetic relevance such as the cytochrome p450 family.

The system that it has developed combines internally developed tools with repositories maintained by the National Center for Biotechnology Information and other sources. It takes as input genetic data generated by direct-to-consumer companies such as 23andMe — which launched its Personal Genome Service in the UK late last year — as well as data from firms such as Genomics England, which aims to sequence the genomes of 100,000 people to obtain more in depth information about cancer and other diseases and develop more effective treatments. The data is analyzed and the system picks out known pharmacogenetic variants and generates unique drug response profile for each patient. The results can be visualized and explored using the Geneix electronic prescribing tool as well as other systems. The goal is to have the drug response profile included in the patient's electronic health record so that it's readily available at the point of care, according to Bartlett.

Geneix plans to provide general information about drug-gene interactions rather than focus on specific areas such as oncology to avoid extensive overlap with existing providers and also to ensure that the patient's drug response profile can be used well into the future, Bartlett said.