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Biomatters Launches WebApp Group to Offer Omic Data Analysis Consulting, Tool Development Services

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Biomatters has launched a development group that will work with customers to build analysis pipelines and reporting engines that will be implemented on public and private cloud platforms.

The company's chief technology officer, Matthew Landry, will relocate from the firm's Aukland, New Zealand, headquarters to head up the so-called WebApp Development Group, out of Biomatters' San Francisco, Calif.-based office.

Two members of the five-person team will be located on the West Coast while the remaining three members will work out of the company's Auckland headquarters. Landry told BioInform that the team is working from both locations because “being in the US lets us better collaborate with clients and the broader user base; and maintaining our New Zealand roots leverages the depth of experience working with omics data that Biomatters has built over the last nine years.”

Also relocating to the San Francisco office to work on the app development team is Biomatter's director of products, Landry said. The company also plans to add two employees to the team in the near future.

Biomatters formed its WebApp group after Landry's team released an application called Molecular Profiler on Illumina's BaseSpace, which officially opened last November (BI 11/2/2012). The application, which was developed in conjunction with the University of Auckland, is used to analyze associations between mutated genes, pathways, and druggable targets in exome data from melanoma tumors.

At the Bio-IT World conference in Boston last week, Landry told BioInform that his company launched the group because it believes the life sciences industry is moving towards an app-based approach to analysis.

The company, he said, sees a need in the "applied omics market" for "purpose-built" apps that are developed based on customers' needs and requirements as well as an "effective and useful" cloud-based infrastructure that can host these applications.

Current software tools are designed to run multiple computational workflows and analyze different kinds of data but the sort of apps that Biomatters hopes to develop would be much “smaller, purpose-built tools that only try to play a well-delineated role” – for example, an app to specifically analyze colon cancer, breast cancer, or melanoma data, he said.

For example, the group could develop an app that “takes some combination of tumor/normal sequence data, expression data, and perhaps even clinical feature data; annotates it with actionable information like driver mutations and associated targeted drugs; and presents it in a form that fits into the clinician's routine,” he said.

Landry said his team will work with customers to select the most appropriate hosting infrastructure – for example, Illumina's BaseSpace and DNANexus cloud platform – for their application, and that it is also willing to host the apps if no existing platforms meet customer specifications.

The group's app development activities will be driven by the specific demands of customers such as clinical and forensic laboratories that avail themselves of its consulting and software development services. A sample project might involve working with a pathology laboratory looking to develop an application that would let clinicians view the results of sequencing-based tests or assays and drill down into the underlying data.

He also said that the group will keep an eye out for opportunities to develop and commercialize applications that are more generally applicable to the omics community.

Pricing for the group's services will vary depending on the type of analysis that the application is used to run.

The team has begun receiving app development requests from customers, Landry said although he would not disclose specific details.

Meanwhile, Biomatters will continue to develop its flagship Genious software, its bioinformatics software suite that includes applications for sequence data assembly, alignment, and analysis and other functionalities. The tool is being used by organizations such as Genewiz, a genomic services provider that partnered with Biomatters to develop an analysis solution that streamlines DNA-based services from ordering to data analysis (BI 6/3/2011).

Last year, Biomatters was tapped to provide bioinformatics support for an integrated genomics service funded by the New Zealand government that would provide sequencing technologies, expertise, and information technology solutions.

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