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MediSapiens Bags First Pharma Customer for Cloud-Based Oncology R&D Software

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Finnish bioinformatics firm MediSapiens has signed its first customer for OncoGenomics Explorer, a cloud computing-based application launched last September for use in cancer genomics research (BI 9/21/2012).

The company said this week that Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals has licensed the software for use in target discovery and drug repositioning projects. The tool will provide Bayer Healthcare’s researchers with centralized access to genomics data culled from public resources such as The Cancer Genome Atlas, as well as the ability to upload and compare their proprietary data to published information, Rami Kakonen, MediSapiens’ vice president of business development, told BioInform this week.

MediSapiens’ OncoGenomics Explorer provides tools for users to mine, visualize, and analyze different kinds of genomics data. It also lets researchers stratify and recruit patients for clinical trials based on their genetic profiles.

A unique feature of the software, according to Kakonen, is its data “unification process,” which makes it possible for users to compare data from different kinds of research studies and “draw correlations between genetic events.”

Users also have the option to submit proprietary data to MediSapiens, which then passes it through the same unification protocol that it applies to public data and makes it available to the customer in the cloud, Kakonen said.

The company offers flexible licensing options for access to OncoGenomics Explorer, including annual licenses for single users or multiple users within a company. Pricing is also based on which software features customers select.

OncoGenomics Explorer is available on MediSapiens' internal cloud infrastructure, Kakonen said, explaining that the company chose to build its own cloud so that it could provide adequate security for customer’s proprietary data, among other reasons.

MediSapiens is currently promoting OncoGenomics Explorer to “multiple” pharma companies and “it has been received well” so far, Kakonen said.

While Bayer Healthcare is the first customer for OncoGenomics Explorer, it is the pharma’s second purchase from MediSapiens.

Last October, Bayer Healthcare tapped MediSapiens to develop a separate bespoke platform for cancer genomics data management and analysis to help its researchers "more effectively" use their oncology data in both preclinical and clinical research settings (BI 10/14/2011).

Kakonen declined to provide details about the existing partnership between the two companies. Bayer Healthcare is also not commenting about its arrangement with MediSapiens.

MediSapiens hopes to add two more employees to its current headcount of 12, Kakonen said. Specifically, the company is looking for software engineers and systems application specialists.

Meanwhile, the company believes that its business is holding its own in the market for informatics applications for oncology. In particular, Kakonen noted that Life Technologies' purchase of cancer informatics firm Compendia last month (BI 10/12/2012) has eliminated a key competitor.

“I think if you look at the independent smaller bioinformatics companies in the field of oncology, MediSapiens [ranks] pretty high,” Kakonen said.