NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Core Informatics, a developer of data management software, is broadening its reach in the next-generation sequencing space by adding new customers to its client roster and exploring partnership opportunities with genomics data analysis companies.
The company said this week that researchers at Biogen, Mount Sinai Hospital, and Thermo Fisher Scientific are now using its Platform-for-Science system to handle NGS workflows and data in their laboratories. The web-based infrastructure offers access to Core's laboratory information management system, electronic laboratory notebook, scientific data management system, and collaborations products.
The platform also features a marketplace, launched this past July, with preconfigured scientific applications for biobanking, NGS, and drug discovery projects. Its NGS applications cover patient sample accessioning through to sequencing, quality control, and analysis. NGS labs can select from a range of apps that provide preconfigured integration with sequencing instrumentation including Illumina; Ion Torrent; and PacBio systems; sample prep kits for whole genome, exome, targeted, and RNA sequencing; and quality control and analysis systems.
Furthermore, scientists in both research and clinical labs can implement their own bespoke NGS workflows on the company's system without requiring custom coding. They can also implement custom workflows for NGS-adjacent research activities such as immunohistochemistry experiments, flow cytometry, pathology, biobanking, and more, Anthony Uzzo, Core Informatics' president and co-founder, told GenomeWeb this week.
The freedom to customize the product based on internal requirements was what set Core's solutions apart from competing products in the market, Todd Arnold, managing director of Mount Sinai's genetic testing lab in Branford, Connecticut, told GenomeWeb. The lab, which is an extension of Mount Sinai's department of genetics and genomics sciences, currently uses Core's LIMS to manage NGS research samples, data, and more. Arnold told GenomeWeb that the Core LIMS will also be used to manage clinical testing workflows when the lab obtains CLIA certification.
"We were looking for a flexible LIMS ... one that we could actually do some configuration that could work well for the workflow that we have," he said. Existing off-the-shelf solutions that the lab considered in addition to Core offered comparable capabilities to the company's LIMS, "but what differentiated it was the ability right out of the gate to build something specific and configure something very specific to our particular workflow or a particular instrumentation."
For their part, researchers at Biogen were looking for an alternative to internally built LIMS software that they'd traditionally used to handle lab processes, Norm Allaire, genomics laboratory manager and senior scientist at Biogen, told GenomeWeb. Allaire lab is part of a core facility at Biogen that does expression profiling using various techniques including qPCR, microarrays, and NGS.
Probably, the biggest draw for Allaire's lab was the fact that Core's LIMS is cloud-based, he said. In addition to running experiments for clients in house, Biogen also works with external collaborators and wanted a forum through which it could easily share information with its partners. Moreover, developing, installing, and maintaining a bespoke LIMS software requires investment of time and resources, he added, and a commercial system would lift the burden of those tasks off the internal IT team's shoulders. Allaire also noted the flexibility of Core's system as one its benefits.
Currently, the researchers are mulling various uses for Core LIMS including support for NGS, Allaire said. They are using more of the prebuilt capabilities that the system comes with but have also implemented some specific functionalities such as adding the ability to run multiple experiments in parallel which would help improve lab efficiency, he said.
In addition to building up its client base in both the NGS clinical and research market, Core also continues to add new capabilities to its products. Uzzo said that Core will continue to roll out new collections of applications in the marketplace on a quarterly basis that will, among other things, provide additional support for NGS technologies and laboratory prep workflows.
Uzzo also said that the company is currently working on establishing partnerships with bioinformatics companies so that it can include support for bioinformatics workflows in its platform. He declined to disclose who these partners are as discussions are still at an early stage. The company currently has a multi-year partnership with ChemAxon to combine ChemAxon's cheminformatics toolkit with Core's LIMS and ELN solutions.
Privately-held Core opened its doors ten years ago and currently has over 80 employees and 100 customers. This past summer, the company raised $17.5 million from a Series B funding round led by Oak HC/FT. In total, it has raised approximately $25 million from Series A and B investments. Uzzo said that the company is using those funds to expand its team as well as execute its product roadmap, which includes launching the scientific applications marketplace this past summer.
Besides targeting NGS clients, Core peddles its products to customers in the bioprocessing, crop science, chemicals, and food and beverage markets, among others. In the NGS space, its product competes with LIMS solutions offered by companies such as GenoLogics, which is now owned by Illumina and integrated with the sequencing vendor's instruments as well as its BaseSpace cloud infrastructure and associated applications.
However, Core Informatics' platform offers multiple data management options and supports a broad range of NGS workflows and related non-NGS workflows such as immunohistochemistry, for instance, Uzzo noted. Currently, no other data management software or LIMS vendor offers the same breadth of coverage, he said.