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Xpogen Pins Hopes for Success on Proprietary Platform and Academic Ties

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Xpogen, a new arrival in the Cambridge, Mass., biotech cluster, is maintaining strong ties with the local academic community.

Its first clients, the Genomics and Cardiogenomics Centers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and the Bioinformatics Program at the Children’s Hospital of Boston, were instrumental in the development of the company’s bioinformatics tools, said Kim Seth, president of Xpogen.

“We started with an academic client base in order to provide a sounding board for the product and really tweak it so that it performs even better,” Seth said. “We can expect that as they publish papers based on some of the analysis that they’ve done on our system that it will help us from a visibility standpoint as well as a validation standpoint.”

In addition, Xpogen recently provided its BioinformatiX Engine microarray expression analysis software for a conference sponsored by the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology — Experiencing the Frontiers of Biomedical Technology, March 12-13.

Seth said that attendees of the conference offered “great feedback.”

“We provided the software for people to get a feel for bioinformatics and why it’s useful,” said Seth. “It allowed a lot of the participants, who included venture capitalists, consultants, and other professionals, to finally see what bioinformatics is all about and see the advantages and the difficulties that still exist in interpreting functional genomics information.”

The company, which released version 2.0 of the BioinformatiX Engine in February, is currently developing version 3.0 of the software for a summer release.

Xpogen’s web-based platform includes the Relevance Networks tool, a patent-pending clustering algorithm that Seth said offers a number of advantages over clustering approaches based on Euclidian distance, self-organizing maps, or dendrograms. These include the ability to cluster non-gene-expression data along with the results of microarray experiments and the ability to find positive as well as negative correlations in gene expression.

Seth said that the algorithm sets Xpogen’s platform apart from other gene expression analysis methods. “The majority of the other ones out there have essentially repackaged a lot of the publicly available analysis algorithms,” he said.

The software can annotate and analyze gene expression data across multiple expression-profiling platforms, including Affymetrix, Molecular Dynamics, Agilent, and custom chips. Seth said that Xpogen is “actively pursuing relationships” with microarray providers.

Also in the works are new approaches for looking at pathways and other types of annotation data. The company is looking for development partners in this area as well.

Xpogen is currently seeking $2 million in a first round of financing to boost its marketing efforts.

Seth said the company is looking to expand beyond its core academic client base and is currently in talks with a number of potential biotech clients.

— BT

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