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Curie Institute, GenoSplice Combine Forces to ID Predictive Cancer Biomarkers

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Curie-Cancer and GenoSplice Technology this week announced a five-year partnership that will combine their respective expertise in cancer research and bioinformatics services.

Curie-Cancer oversees industry partnerships for the Curie Institute, a cancer research foundation located in Paris. Researchers there work on cancer-centered projects in cell biology, immunology, human genetics and oncogenesis, pharmacochemistry, and more.

GenoSplice has offices in Paris and Evry. The services provider offers mainly bioinformatics analysis but its product portfolio also includes sequencing, custom software development, general consulting, and other services.

Customers include pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies as well as academic and medical institutions such as the University of Kentucky and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Marc Rajaud, GenoSplice's president and co-founder, told BioInform this week.

The partners — who have collaborated on other projects before — hope that by combining their efforts they'll be able to better understand the genetic basis of cancer and contribute to the development of more effective therapies for the disease.

As part of the collaboration, GenoSplice will have access to the Curie Institute's technology platforms and research programs. These include an internal bioinformatics platform that integrates clinical, genomic, proteomic, and transcriptome data; a compound library that contains more than 8,000 compounds; a SOLiD sequencer; and tools for flow cytometry as well as gene expression and image analysis.

It's also an opportunity to work in close contact with academic researchers, enabling GenoSplice to keep up with novel developments and products, adapt to new technologies that crop up, and continue to improve its proprietary platform and services offering, Rajaud said.

The company will also profit financially from any intellectual property resulting from the collaboration, such as patented biomarkers that could be sold or developed into tests, Rajaud said.

Finally, the collaboration will help GenoSplice better understand analysis needs in the clinical space, he said.

For its part, the Curie Institute will have access to GenoSplice's proprietary informatics solutions, which will supplement its own internal bioinformatics capabilities by handling data analysis in areas not covered by the center's pipeline, according to Rajaud.

The center will also tap GenoSplice's bioinformatics savvy in areas such as alternative splicing analysis, which is a particular area of expertise for the firm, he said.

It's where the company focused its initial commercialization efforts when it set up shop in 2008, he said.

Following its launch, the company offered services on an internally developed system called Easy Alternative Splicing Analysis, or EASANA, and serviced clients such as the European Alternative Splicing Network — an EU-funded consortium that is investigating the principles of alternative splicing and how they affect human health.

GenoSplice has since expanded its services portfolio to incorporate other kinds of analysis and other sources of data including next-generation sequencing, Rajaud said.

Currently, GenoSplice offers SNP analysis including genotype calling and genome-wide association analysis; copy number variation analysis including CNV detection and association; and it analyzes methylation and histone modification for epigenetics projects. It also analyzes RNA- and DNA- sequencing data.

All of these analyses are done on the EASANA platform, which GenoSplice has extended to include new tools and analysis capabilities, Rajaud said. He explained that the company chose to keep referring to its platform as EASANA because current clients are familiar with the name.

Besides analysis, the six-person firm also does wetlab work in conjunction with the Curie Institute. Its offering here includes RNA and DNA extraction, microarray analysis including sample preparation, hybridization and scanning; high-throughput sequencing, and qPCR validation. GenoSplice also advises clients on experimental design and helps customers write and publish research papers.

Pricing for the company's services varies depending on the nature of the project, and academics do receive a discount, Rajaud said.

Roughly, a microarray analysis project that includes quality control and analysis and additional follow up — which could include help putting together a paper for publication — would cost around €200 ($272) per array, he said. Meanwhile, a sequencing project including data analysis would cost around €600 ($815) per sample, he said.

Turnaround times also vary depending on the project, according to Rajaud, but generally speaking, the company gets results within about three weeks.

Since it's been in business GenoSplice has worked on disease-related projects focused on HIV and neurological conditions such as Alzheimer and Parkinson's disease. It's also done some work in the cosmetics industry and in agronomy-based research and development.

BioInform was unable to get comments from Curie-Cancer's management team for this article as of press time.

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