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GNS Healthcare to Use Series B Funds to Improve REFS Technology, Add New Products

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GNS Healthcare will use a portion of the proceeds from a recently wrapped $10 million funding round to add support for new types of data to its proprietary analytics platform and to reengineer the system’s software and code so that its analysis is more automated, according to a company executive.

Some funds will be used to develop stronger informatics support for next-generation sequencing data to the company's platform so that it can better handle the large number of data points that genomic datasets generate and help customers extract the most useful insights from their data, Tom Neyarapally, the company's executive vice president, told BioInform this week.

The company is also expanding its platform development team, hiring software engineers to make improvements to the infrastructure that will make it generate results faster and more efficiently, Neyarapally said.

Longer-term plans include developing capabilities for analyzing less structured sorts of information such as physicians' notes in electronic medical records. The company will also invest in ongoing development of new products specifically for customers in the health insurance market as well as on it business development side, hiring new sales and marketing staff to help commercialize both the platform and products, Neyarapally said.

Cambridge, Mass.-based GNS Healthcare offers services and products based on its so-called reverse engineering and forward simulation (REFS) platform, which uses patented algorithms and supercomputing capabilities to identify causal relationships in diverse datasets and build predictive models based on these relationships that help users answer specific questions. Pharmaceutical companies, health plans, and providers use its solutions to predict individual and population risk and costs, comparing treatments’ effectiveness, improving medication adherence, and identifying biomarkers that predict how patients respond to treatment.

Some of its clients come from the research and development arms of pharma companies. These clients, as well as academic and medical institutions, generally use the REFS platform to extract information from clinical and molecular data such as NGS, gene expression, proteomics, metabolomics, clinical trials, and outcomes data in their efforts to improve the care and treatment of their patients, Neyarapally said.

The company also works with pharma companies, payors, and, to some extent, providers to analyze data from claims, electronic medical records, and registries among other sources, he said. This particular business segment is one the company hopes to grow in 2014, "substantially advancing the development of products … for use in the payor market," Neyarapally said. For example, its platform and products could help pharma and payors tackle questions about drug values and appropriate price points. "[We can] apply our platform to the relevant data and build a model that both [groups] can …use as a tool to adjudicate how payment approaches should be designed in order to properly deal with value that’s being brought from that therapeutic to the particular payor and [its] members," he said.

GNS Healthcare's current list of customers includes Orion Bionetworks, a non-profit alliance that aims to use computational modeling to study disease mechanisms to select and develop more effective treatments. Orion is working with GNS Healthcare to develop a predictive model for multiple sclerosis initially, with plans to move on to studying other diseases. Another customer is the CHDI Foundation, which tapped the company to develop models of Huntington’s disease using genomic, expression, and cell signaling data. GNS Healthcare also signed a deal with the Inova Translational Medicine Institute to develop and commercialize computer models based on NGS and EMR data that can predict live birth risks.

Meanwhile, researchers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Mount Sinai School of Medicine used the REFS platform to engineer network models of multiple myeloma using NGS data, proteomic data, information on patient outcomes, and other clinical data. And the National Cancer Institute selected the REFS platform to build computer models of non-small cell lung cancer based on imaging, genetics, pathology, and other sources of data. The company’s pharma clients include Bristol-Myers Squibb, which used the REFS platform to build models based on clinical and molecular information to better understand immuno-inflammation.

The funds raised in this round came from current investor and partner Cambia Health Solutions, a nonprofit company that offers health insurance plans, healthcare information technology, and other products and services. Last year, Cambia and GNS Healthcare began developing a platform based on the company's data analytics capabilities that would predict when improving medication adherence would have the most meaningful impact on clinical and cost outcomes. Joining Cambia in this round are two new investors: California's Heritage Provider Network, and Mitsui & Co. (USA).

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