GeneGo said this week that it is collaborating with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation to develop a disease-specific software package called MetaMiner — the first of a line of disease-focused analysis products that the company has in the works.
The new package, MetaMiner (CF), will include GeneGo’s existing MetaDrug, MetaCore, MetaLink, and MapEditor packages, but will also contain “omics” data and other information that is specific to cystic fibrosis.
Julie Bryant, vice president of business development for GeneGo, told BioInform that the company is working with a committee at the CF Foundation to ensure that MetaMiner (CF) will be cystic fibrosis-specific.
MetaMiner (CF) will be built on top of the company’s flagship MetaCore suite, which integrates and analyzes a range of omics data, including microarray and SAGE gene expression, SNPs, proteomics, metabolomics, pathway analysis, and yeast-two-hybrid interaction data.
“MetaCore has broad and deep disease coverage, but MetaMiner will go into even more detail,” Bryant explained via e-mail. “We will be building CF disease-specific canonical pathway maps and pre-built CF pathway networks from the additional literature coverage” that will come from the collaboration.
The venture is a multi-year agreement, Bryant said, and includes several academic and commercial partners that she could not disclose.
“The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is funding this, but we work with a group of academic researchers and collaborators and one industry collaborator,” Bryant said. “Everything we develop is going into a general medical MetaDrug environment so anybody working in the cystic fibrosis area will have access to the data, the content, and tools.”
Bryant said the CF committee is coordinating data collection among the project’s participants, and then GeneGo will use that information to build proprietary networks and conical pathway maps.
Diana Wetmore, who is responsible for business development and strategic planning of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s drug development portfolio, told BioInform that the organization decided to work with GeneGo because “we were interested in finding software that would help us collate all the information that is in the public domain and is emerging in various studies.”
Another important factor, she said was the fact that GeneGo’s MetaDrug platform addresses metabolomics, which is a factor in determining the cause and severity of cystic fibrosis. Growth failure can be attributed to increased metabolic demand due to chronic illness in CF sufferers.
Wetmore said that the foundation didn’t solicit bids for the project, “but we did have multiple companies we were evaluating and we found that GeneGo had the platform that would suit our needs. So we talked to them about having a collaborative approach for focusing … bioinformatics … on cystic fibrosis.”
“It’s not exactly a virtual environment, but it connects PIs from different research areas, with the eventual goal to develop drugs for preventive care.”
GeneGo said it expects to complete MetaMiner (CF) in February 2008. Terms of the agreement stipulate that GeneGo will be able to launch a commercial version of the product apart from the CFF arrangement "at a later date," Bryant said.
Wetmore said that talks for the partnership began “some time ago,” but the contract wasn’t signed until July of this year. Further terms of the agreement could not be disclosed.
GeneGo CEO Yuri Nikolsky told BioInform that MetaMiner (CF) will require input from investigators in chemistry, microbiology, and other areas, “some of whom work with proteomic data, some with gene expression data, and so forth.”
“It’s not exactly a virtual environment, but it connects PIs from different research areas, with the eventual goal to develop drugs for preventive care,” said Nikolsky.
He added that MetaMiner will be “much broader” than other software platforms of other companies, which are not disease-specific.
MetaCore is a “mature system” designed for analyzing chemical and biological data, “and built on top of that is the disease component,” Nikolsky said.
Bryant said that GeneGo is presently in talks with other foundations regarding the development of additional disease-specific versions of MetaMiner in areas like oncology and metabolic disease, but said the company cannot yet disclose these potential partners.