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Dutch Startup Genalice to Provide Correlation and Predictive Tools for Aggression Research Group

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Privately-held Genalice has received a €200,000 ($266,000) grant to provide software for the Radboud University Nijmegen's Aggressotype consortium — a collaborative research effort studying the biological underpinnings of aggression in child psychiatric disorders.

The consortium will use capabilities in Genalice Link, the firm's software for processing and finding correlations in biomedical data, to correlate different sorts of subject data including behavioral data, clinical data, and genetic information. Bert Reijmerink, the company's chief scientific officer, told BioInform that the consortium hopes to identify biomarkers of aggression in data from 800 subjects — 400 normal and 400 with a disorder — using techniques such as sparse vector analysis and multilevel longitudinal modeling as well as probabilistic approaches.

The partners will also build "a relational database that describes all identified correlations that can be used with novel data of a particular source to predict markers in a different source," Hans Karten, Genalice's chief technology officer, said in a statement.

Genalice's grant is part of a larger €6,000,000 FP7 European Union grant awarded to the Aggressotype consortium to study attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder and conduct disorders in children with the aim of preventing aggressive behaviors and personalizing treatments. Researchers in the consortium are exploring genes, gene networks, and their epigenetic interactions, and mapping modes of action starting at the molecular level and moving up to the brain-circuit level.

Ultimately, they intend to develop and validate accurate algorithms that can reliably predict aggression in subjects — another aspect of the consortium's activities that will benefit from Genalice's development expertise.

In addition to developing the proprietary methods that underlie its correlation software, Genalice, which opened for business in 2011, has developed an algorithm for short read sequence alignments that it now markets in a product called Genalice Map. Last year, it released the results of benchmark tests comparing its software's performance with Bowtie, Bowtie 2, and the Burrows Wheeler Aligner that showed that Genalice Map had greater precision and more reliable alignments than the competition (BI 9/14/2012).

Although Genalice Link is being used by the Aggressotype consortium, it won’t be launched officially until the first quarter of next year, Reijmerink said. In a conversation with BioInform last year, he had said the company intended to release it in the first quarter of 2013, however the firm halted development for a few months to focus on completing and launching Genalice Map. Now that that's done, it's resumed working on Genalice Link, he said, and is currently beta testing the tool at several institutions as well as developing new capabilities.

It's also mulling pricing options and trying to figure out the best ways to market Genalice Link to potential customers in academic and clinical research settings as well as in the pharmaceutical and sequencing services arenas.

For Genalice Map, the company adopted a pay-per-use model that has two pricing options. The first is for customers who want to generate alignments using the standard BAM and FastQ file formats. This option — priced between €1500 and €3000, depending on the size of the data — offers customers speed and accuracy but it requires large amounts of computer memory since the company's technology relies on in memory processing to analyze data, Reijmerink said.

The second option — the more costly of the two with prices ranging from €100,000 to €500,000, again depending on data quantity — uses Genalice's internally developed .gar file format. However, this format requires less processing space so customers save money on memory costs.

Pay-per-use is one potential model to consider but there are "[lots] of ideas about it and we just have to do good market research … to see what will be the best way to reach the market," Reijmerink said

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