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Sophia Genetics Acquires Interactive Biosoftware

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CHICAGO (GenomeWeb) – Sophia Genetics has acquired Interactive Biosoftware, a French maker of decision support technology for clinical genomic data interpretation.

Sophia Genetics made the announcement Saturday at the start of the 2018 European Human Genetics Conference in Milan, Italy. Financial terms were not disclosed.

The acquisition, which both companies called "complementary," effectively extends Sophia Genetics' SOPHiA artificial intelligence platform deeper into next-generation sequencing interpretation.

"Sophia Genetics is mostly addressing the needs of secondary NGS analysis, which means accurate detection of genomic variants," said Interactive Biosoftware (IBS) Founder and CEO André Blavier.

Meanwhile, IBS's  products cover the needs of tertiary analysis, namely variant annotation and visualization, where Sophia has been lacking outside of oncology.

"What we bring [as a combined company] is the ability to provide together the full breadth of the needs of genomic analysis," Blavier said.

Sophia Genetics does offer limited decision support in oncology, but SOPHiA AI is primarily for detecting genetic variants. "Candidate variants need to be investigated further," Blavier said. "That is where, hopefully, we bring strength to the comprehensive offering of both companies."

Blavier started Rouen-France-based IBS in 2007. The company produces Alamut, data-analysis software for mutation diagnostics and decision support.

Alamut is deployed in more than 450 hospitals, primarily academic hospitals in Europe and North America, according to Blavier. Sophia Genetics has a client base of more than 480 hospitals, said Gioia Althoff, senior vice president of genomics for St. Sulpice, Switzerland-based Sophia Genetics.

They share many of the same customers.

Users of the SOPHiA AI platform are also currently using Alamut to finalize their interpretations, said Tarik Dlala, vice president of marketing at Sophia Genetics. Alamut is capable of handling much more complex cases.

"We do believe this is a very nice, complementary acquisition," said Althoff. "We believe this will dramatically accelerate the adoption of clinical genomics."

IBS will be run as a wholly owned subsidiary of Sophia and will retain its Rouen headquarters. All employees will stay on board in the short term, though longer-range plans are unclear, the two merging parties said.

"We have not designed the precise scenarios yet," Blavier said.

Sophia Genetics and IBS are able to interface systems for their common customers, Althoff said. She added that Alamut's platform will remain available as a standalone product and or, eventually, bundled with SOPHiA AI.

"We intend to merge the technical infrastructures someday, so as to provide a very comprehensive and intuitive experience to the users. For now, it will remain separate products that talk to each other a lot," Blavier added. There is no timeline for platform unification yet.

IBS has formed numerous integration deals over the years — including with the likes of Centogene, Genohm and Cartagenia — that will remain in place.

However, Blavier said that he had been looking for a partner with more business savvy to help broaden the reach of IBS.

"We are a small company and I am not the type of manager who would be able to grow [a company] forever and ever," he confessed. "We have had the need to join forces with another player."

He did not just want to walk away from the company and technology he has spearheaded for the last 11 years, though.

"I didn't have the intent to just sell out the company and then go to another venture. I've always wanted to extend this project that we have had for years and to strengthen our capacity to develop it," Blavier said.

Sophia Genomics is well-capitalized. It closed a $30 million Series D round of venture capital in September.

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