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Elsevier Continues Focus on Pharmacovigilance, Updates Sequence Analysis Software


NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Elsevier, a provider of scientific, technical, and medical information products and services, is continuing its efforts in pharmacovigilance in 2015 with plans to launch a bespoke system for the space in 2016.

The company plans to develop a system for tracking pharmacovigilance needs that will leverage Embase, its database of biomedical information culled from published literature, Tim Hoctor, Elsevier's vice president of life science solutions services, told GenomeWeb. The planned system will provide regulatory-compliant tracking of pharmacovigilance needs to small pharmaceutical companies with one or two drug candidates on the market all the way up larger pharma firms who are tracking hundreds of compounds. In addition, the company plans to update its Reaxys product suite to provide greater support for biologics, and develop smarter search functionality for the suite, he said.

Elsevier made some moves in the drug safety space last year. For example, it connected content from Embase to PharmaPendium, its repository of pre-clinical, clinical, and post-release drug safety and regulatory data. Both solutions are part of the company's life science solutions portfolio, which consists of tools and services that support drug discovery and development projects. By connecting the resources, the company hoped to make it easier for pharma scientists to search for safety information related to new or existing drugs and devices.

The company also plans to improve its professional services and consulting offering, through which Hoctor and his team help pharma companies combine their proprietary data with content from Elsevier's repositories using Elsevier products such as Reaxys and Pathway Studio or using their own applications and workflows. The company uses a combination of public and proprietary taxonomies to normalize and harmonize input datasets so that customers can search and explore them in the same infrastructure. "That's one of our core competencies," he told GenomeWeb, adding that the company has decades of experience with normalizing and harmonizing datasets for its drug research products.

Last year, for example, Elsevier worked with Merck to combine information on drug, target, and disease-related information from journals, patents, and grant applications. For that project, Hoctor said, the company used tools such as Reaxys Medicinal Chemistry as well as information from PharmaPendium. "We can pull data from different sources … and we normalize it and then put it out into an application," he said. "It's a huge value for customers and something [they] are absolutely looking at as a mandate."

The company is keeping its eye on the genomics arena and gauging how pharma companies are incorporating next-generation sequencing technologies into their precision medicine strategies. Seeking to tap into the NGS arm of the pharma market, last year the company added a new module to the desktop version of Pathway Studio, its software for visualizing and exploring gene expression, proteomics, and metabolomics datasets. Current customers of the module include the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and University College London. "[We are] slowly bringing this to market because we wanted to make sure, because it is a new module, that we have all the validation," Hoctor said.

Also last year, Elsevier signed an agreement with Maverix Biomics that let the companies integrate the Maverix Analytic platform with Elsevier's Pathway Studio software to improve customers' ability to analyze and interpret next-generation sequencing data.

But NGS is only one component of Elsevier's strategy for precision medicine, Hoctor noted. "We are looking at NGS, we put [the Pathway Studio NGS module] out there. But we are having this as an umbrella strategy around precision medicine, there are other areas that are being looked at."

In addition to the on-premise version of the software, Elsevier also offers a web-based version of Pathway Studio, which does not include the NGS module. The company released an updated version of the tool in December that includes features that help researchers more easily explore and understand disease progression mechanisms and treatment response including a simpler menu and detailed help documents. Also available is an interactive wizard that guides new users through the process of creating pathways, and new filters that help users sift through literature and research data to find information relevant to their research.