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Strand to Develop Computational Tools for Head and Neck Cancer Translational Research

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By Uduak Grace Thomas

Strand Life Sciences plans to develop some new computational tools for use in translational cancer research focused on head and neck cancer.

The Bangalore, India-based software company announced this week that it will work with the Mazumdar Shaw Comprehensive Cancer Centre of Narayana Hrudalaya to develop informatics tools to study the molecular mechanisms involved in head and neck cancer, which is the most prevalent form of the disease in country.

The company said in a statement that the partnership "is aimed at performing joint research and training in the field of translational cancer genomics and proteomics initially, leading to early detection, cure, and prolonging lives of cancer patients and providing affordable solutions."

Strand said that it has also entered into in a private-public partnership with the Indian government to build Ganit labs, a functional genomics and next-generation sequencing center in Bangalore.

The company did not close additional details about either agreement.

Binay Panda, senior vice president of Strand, told BioInform that the cancer project will bring together researchers and clinicians from the clinical, genomic, and computational sciences, which is a "first for India."

Panda, who is also the head of Ganit labs, said that Strand plans to develop a pipeline to analyze next-generation sequence data and identify changes in the genes that are linked to head and neck cancer.

"We are developing some computational tools to understand what's going on at the genomic, transcriptomic, and epigenomic level," he said, noting that such tools are "new in the context of the cancer samples we are looking at."

Because the project has just begun and Strand's developers are still finalizing their pipeline development plans, Panda declined to provide specific details about how the tools will work.

He pointed out that while any software developed for the project "would not necessarily" be commercialized through Strand, "if we see a broader use of a tool [that] can be used by other researchers, then we will commercialize [it]."
In addition to the pipeline, the company plans to use GeneSpring, the microarray analysis tool it developed for marketing partner Agilent Technologies, to analyze gene expression and copy number variation in the cancer genomic data.

GeneSpring is built upon the company's Avadis development platform, which also underlies its Sarchitect software for predicting quantitative structure activity relationships and the BioLego modeling and simulation platform.

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