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Geschickten Expands Product Portfolio in Bid to Increase its Footprint


By Uduak Grace Thomas

Bangalore, India-based bioinformatics firm Geschickten is making some changes to its business model and product lines in a bid to increase its customer base and expand its footprint.

The company plans to release three new software tools in the fall: miGenX, a web-based statistical package for microarray data analysis; Discoverer, a federated web-based human gene mutational database; and Gtrac, a web-based system for tracking next-generation sequencing projects.

In addition, Geschickten has renamed its cloud-based genomic analysis platform iOmics. Previously called GenomicsCloud, the platform provides tools for managing, analyzing, and visualizing next-generation sequencing data (BI 06/11/2010).

The company renamed the offering based on the results of a survey that indicated its clients could not relate to it, Prahalad Achutharao, Geschickten’s CEO, explained to BioInform.

IOmics can handle data from different sequencing technologies including Illumina, Roche 454, and Ion Torrent, and is offered primarily through Geschickten’s cloud, but can also be deployed on customers' internal systems. The system, which was originally slated to launch last year, is now targeted for beta release in July with plans to release additional versions later in the year.

Achutharao said the company delayed the release mostly due to “resource availability.”

With iOmics, users have three cloud “flavors” to choose from: do-it-yourself analysis, professional analysis, and enterprise analysis versions. The do-it-yourself analysis option has prebuilt NGS analysis workflows for researchers to use out of the box; the professional version requires researchers to work with Geschickten’s technology development team to build custom workflows for their data; and the enterprise version allows researchers to work with Geschickten’s scientific team to perform end-to-end downstream analysis.

The beta release includes prebuilt analysis workflows for sequence alignment, variation analysis, miRNA prediction and analysis, ChIP-seq, and exome sequencing.

Users are charged a one-time registration and setup fee of $1,000 as well as a $199 fee per month for the do-it-yourself and professional cloud options. The enterprise option is priced on a case-by-case basis.

IOmics will have to compete with offerings from companies like DNAnexus, which launched a cloud-based analysis service for NGS data analysis last spring and recently updated its platform to help researchers analyze and manage genomic variation (BI 02/04/2011).

In addition, some sequencing vendors are also offering cloud-based analysis services for analyzing next-gen sequencing data. Last week, Life Technologies launched its new LifeScope software for analyzing data from its SOLiD 5500 sequencers, which is available in several configurations including a cloud computing environment (BI 5/27/2011). Illumina has also said that it plans to implement cloud-based analysis services for its sequencers.

Expanding Services

Three months ago, Geschickten launched an Offshore Research Center, or ORC, that’s comprised of a dedicated team of programmers and analysts with backgrounds in computer science, statistics, and mathematics. The ORC team works with customers to create data analysis infrastructures that are tailored to their standards and specifications, Achutharao said.

The ORC team’s goal is to “augment [customers'] existing research and development” capabilities, he said. Since the center was launched, the team has been involved in several projects including a cancer study with an institute in Italy and research into brain tumors with a local research group.

The company's efforts seem to paying off. Although it initially provided services for clients in India such as Sandor Proteomics and India’s Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, Geschickten now has customers in the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and Europe and has worked on a yeast sequencing project with the Joint Genome Institute, the results of which will be published later this year, Achutharao said.

Geschickten markets its products and services to independent researchers and sequencing centers, as well as biotechs, pharmaceutical, chemical, consumer packaged goods, and biofuel companies.

The firm has been involved in several projects involving de novo assemblies and gene annotation. It has also participated in projects involving microRNA discovery, profiling, prediction, and analysis; gene-gene interaction network and pathway analyses; and targeted molecular dynamics, Achutharao said.

The firm anticipates the demand for its services to rise as the number of sequencers purchased in India increases. Archutharao estimated that currently there are between 15 and 20 next-generation sequencers in the country with an additional seven instruments purchased annually.

Moving forward, Geschickten plans to concentrate mostly on human genomics projects with particular emphasis on cancer biology and infectious and non-infectious disease research, although it will continue to develop expertise in other areas such as agricultural genomics.

"Our aim for 2012 and [beyond] is to become ... the first company from India that is completely global and has the first right of refusal on some of the important projects in the world,” Archutharao said. “It is a goal we have set.”

Currently Gechickten has 14 employees, five of whom are attached to the Offshore Research Center.

Have topics you'd like to see covered in BioInform? Contact the editor at uthomas [at] genomeweb [.] com.

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