Biomax Informatics said recently that its knowledge integration platform, BioXM, is being used by scientists involved in the Synergy-COPD project — a research effort funded by the European Commission's Seventh Framework Program that aims to study the underlying mechanisms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease phenotypes associated with poor prognosis.
Biomax says it has met its first milestone for the project by developing an approach based on BioXM that combines different sources of biological data with clinical information.
Dieter Maier, the company’s head of project management, explained to BioInform that the COPD projects is using its BioXM platform to integrate clinical, molecular, and modeling data related to the disease.
BioXM provides the tools that researchers need to make "semantic connections" between computational models, clinical data, and other molecular knowledge such as gene expression, proteomics, and metabolomics data, he explained.
Previously, "there was no generic framework to bring together computational models describing different levels of information such as cellular or organ level and [other] data," he said.
For the Synergy study, BioXM was configured to handle COPD-specific data including information from several public databases as well as clinical data contributed by project participants.
The Synergy group is studying the disease by using computer models to simulate different functions of the human body at different levels — sub-cellular, tissue, organ, and organ system — so that the behavior of each physiological network can be observed both separately and in an integrated fashion.
It hopes to develop more complete computer models of COPD mechanisms which can be used to improve patient care and health outcomes.
Specifically, Biomax used its BioXM technology to create a COPD knowledgebase that integrates human physiology simulations with biomedical data drawn from experimental studies, epidemiological data, clinical trials, physician interviews, a multi-center longitudinal study on COPD phenotyping, and public datasets, the company said.
Furthermore, the Synergy consortium is creating a clinical decision support system based on BioXM that will provide information that doctors need to predict disease progression and select effective therapies, the company said.
Biomax expects its platform will find use in disease studies beyond COPD; for example, in projects focused on complex diseases such as cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, diabetes, and inflammatory diseases, Klaus Heumann, Biomax's CEO told BioInform.
"The disease-specific knowledge has to be recreated if we are in another framework [since] some of the rules and ... knowledge [are] disease specific" but the platform itself can be applied in different settings, Maier said.
In fact, BioXM is already being used by customers in the biotechnology, pharmaceutical, and food industries as well as in clinical settings, Heumann said.
In these markets, Biomax is "doing very well," Heumann said.
In addition to BioXM, Biomax also offers the Viscovery data mining software which it purchased from its previous owner, Eudaptics Software, in 2007.
Last year, Biomax announced that it had secured several life science customers for Viscovery — which has traditionally included firms in telecom, finance, retail, and industry — meeting a goal that the bioinformatics company set when it first purchased the business (BI 6/12/2011).
"Viscovery has proven extremely valuable in the life science space" and it's being used in the Synergy-COPD study for "predictive purposes," Heumann said.
Key features that make Viscovery a good "fit" for biomedical research include allowing users to "work with numeric and non-numeric information" and providing a "visual interpretation of complex statistics," he said.
The tool also allows users to "validate [their] outcomes in a way that’s mathematically robust and makes sense from a medical perspective," he said.
Biomax's Heumann also stated that the company hasn’t seen any products on the market that compete directly with its own, however, "we hope to see increasing competition" because it would indicate a growing awareness of the need for tools to integrate computational models and other kinds of information, he said.
Biomax currently has 35 employees and maintains offices in Germany, Korea, China, and the US.