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Looking for New Revenue, LSBC to Sell Clustering, Gene Analysis, LIMS Software

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Although not previously known for its software products, Large Scale Biology Corporation is now selling several of the computational tools it developed for in-house use, the company told ProteoMonitor last week. The move is unrelated to the recent restructuring, according to Gary Wolfe, LSBC’s vice president for informatics systems, but it’s certainly in line with the company’s new emphasis on creating revenue, and has the potential to lead to additional research collaborations.

One of LSBC’s applications for sale is a classification clustering algorithm called Biomarker Amplification Filter. It resulted from an internal project to re-analyze mass spectra published in The Lancet earlier this year in a paper describing protein profiles for classifying ovarian cancer. Wolfe said that LSBC found and has filed patents on several new markers for the disease state that went undiscovered in the publication using its own algorithm, which involves a “unique way of classification and feature enhancement.”

LSBC has since used the software to analyze mass spectrometry and other data sets for biotechnology and instrumentation companies, and several are interested in licensing the software, Wolfe said. Potential users can test a slimmed-down version of the algorithm using their own data at informatics.lsbc.com.

Wolfe said that biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies in the “double digits” have also expressed an interest in LSBC’s laboratory information management system, which manages the data flow between instruments in all the companies’ laboratories, said Wolfe.

The system — called LSIMS for Large Scale Information Management System — is fast and scalable, he claimed, and LSBC will also offer custom-built workflows to accommodate special needs.

Because it is web-based, LSIMS is platform-independent; it uses open-source utilities and processes data on a Linux-cluster. Wolfe said companies first became interested in the LSIMS last fall when he presented examples of LSBC’s workflows in talks, and internal discussions to make it available as a commercial product started at the beginning of this year.

What distinguishes LSBC from many software companies, he explained, is that product development costs were minimal — four programmers constitute the company’s entire informatics workforce, and all products were developed for internal use originally. Many companies, he said, develop elaborate solutions, “but in the end, it’s not what the customer [wants].”

— JK

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