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Databiology, Tute Combine Software Solutions to Better Support Genomics Research


NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Privately held life sciences software and services firm Databiology recently announced that it has integrated Tute Genomics' interpretation capabilities with its Databiology for Enterprise (DBE), a cloud-based information management platform that the company developed and sells.

Specifically, the arrangement pairs Tute's genetic variant knowledgebase and interpretation algorithms with a software-as-a-service offering that provides life science organizations with project management tools for omics-based and other kinds of biological studies. DBE's abilities cover data acquisition and curation through data analysis, retrieval, and integration — and the flexible platform can be configured according to project requirements, workload, information, and infrastructure requirements. Its open architecture supports interoperability with multiple third-party scientific, commercial, and clinical applications, and it enables intra- and extra- collaboration in projects, among other capabilities.

Together, the combined solution offers a one-stop shop for information management, cancer annotation, and customizable reporting for cancer genomic research, according to the partners. Moreover, it streamlines the computational and data management components of the genome interpretation process, freeing researchers and clinicians to focus on discovery and diagnosis, Reid Robison, Tute co-founder and CEO, said in a statement.

Databiology pursued a partnership with Tute because it sought to "facilitate an environment that allows our users to work with best-in-class analytics engines while automating and capturing each step of the process" in a manner that scales from "single site to industrial-grade multi-national deployments," Georges Heiter, Databiology's founder and director, said in a statement.

This is the first of so-called "instrument to insight," or I2I solutions, that Databiology has planned for the market, he told BioInform. It plans to develop additional I2Is — some of which are being finalized and should be announced soon — under the same sort of partnership model it has with Tute.

"It's important for us to find [informatics tools] that we believe the market really wants and are really ready for proliferation, and make it really easy to and more flexible to use them than they currently are." Tute, for example, he said, has good genome annotation tools but does not include tools for the data processing that precedes the annotation step. Furthermore, it's not well suited for very large-scale products involving thousands of samples. Those are areas where "we want to add value to [the] product and make it a bit more flexible to adopt in large-scale environments or in smaller environments."

It's a model that could make Databiology a more competitive player in the market; and it benefits both partners by making their products visible to a wider pool of potential customers, he said.

Databiology officially launched DBE at the Bio-IT World Conference in Boston earlier this year. The system combines technology that was initially developed at an unnamed European institution with proprietary solutions developed by Databiology. It comes equipped with a default set of software applications and hardware that customers can use for their projects.

However, as clients become more comfortable with the system, they have the option to swap existing components with applications of their own choosing in their DBE implementations. More knowledgeable users can, for instance, integrate their own homegrown informatics applications as well as incorporate open-source and commercial applications that they want to use on their data, Heiter said. DBE can also be linked to customers' local hardware including in-house compute farms, storage resources, and cloud accounts, for instance.

Furthermore, "you can mix and match these elements as you see fit," Heiter added. A hypothetical user could, for instance, use the DBE to import genome annotation information from servers at the NCBI or EBI, move the data to a compute platform of choice, and then analyze it using the newly added Tute engine. "It's a degree of flexibility that I don't think anybody else offers at the moment," he said.

What's also flexible is pricing for DBE. Heiter said that the company is experimenting with multiple models, but at present, customers pay an undisclosed amount per user per month for access to a version of the platform that includes a number of applications and customer support. Customers can also purchase storage and compute infrastructure from the company for an additional cost. The company also charges separately for bespoke software integration and support for the integration.

Access to Tute's solution can be purchased under a pay-per-use or subscription model, while the joint solution can be bought from both Databiology and Tute. The companies are currently mulling incentives to drum up interest in the solution, Heiter said, though they'll disclose these at a later date.

Databiology officially opened its doors last year. Its offices are in Oxford, UK, and San Francisco, Calif. Since its launch, the company has peddled its product to life science customers using omics data including those in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and biofuels industries. It has focused primarily on larger enterprises, for instance, global projects involving multiple laboratories and partners and large quantities of data, but it intends to begin marketing its system to smaller groups as well offering these clients a subset of the larger list of features available in DBE.

The firm believes that DBE's core applications are at least comparable to similar ones in the marketplace, and have the added advantage of being part of a system that can in a facile fashion link and manage many of the point solutions offered by existing informatics vendors, Heiter noted.

Besides forging software integration agreements, Databiology is continuing to develop its platform. Planned updates include adding genome visualization tools and also improving the robustness and scalability of the platform to better support very large system deployments, Heiter said. Meanwhile, the company is building a network of partners on the service side that "we can engage for heavier systems integration tasks or pure consulting," he said.

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