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Deal bundles genetic analysis app and validation services
SEATTLE—Geospiza and Pharmaceutical Services Corp. (PSC) announced in late April a collaboration joining Geospiza's genetic analysis software with PSC's services for validating the software for use in commercial manufacturing of gene-based diagnostics and therapies.
The open-ended alliance arose through working with a joint customer, says Kevin Banks, vice president business development at Geospiza, and blossomed thanks to similar corporate styles and market approaches. "Our products," notes Banks, "are focused on gathering and making sense of the genetic information from a software perspective." Geospiza's Finch Suite, named for Charles Darwin's birds, takes genetic data from instruments and puts them into data management systems for partially automated analysis.
PSC's experience validating systems to meet FDA regulations expanded as the drug industry, particularly biotech companies, moved from R&D toward commercial applications drawing on genetic information. "Commercialization," says Banks, "may be having new diagnostic tests to test for AIDS or HCV or HPV or genetic diseases like Alzheimer's, so those are now beginning to move into the mainstream and be offered by doctors."
Geospiza's specialty in bioinformatics software and PSC's focus on FDA validation, says Patricia Rossman, vice president of PSC, creates a three-way win. "Their product has been in research and development and diagnostic laboratories, and they needed [PSC validation] expertise. And we needed them because, obviously, if we're partners with them and we're very familiar with their product, we would be the preferable solution to the customers when they need help validating their product in their own environment." Geospiza and PSC will jointly offer the validated system, either off-the-shelf or with customization. While the companies will share revenues, further details of the agreement were not released.
Biotech companies moving from R&D to commercialization should be a ready-made market for Geospiza and PSC, since most lack familiarity with FDA regulations after focusing for years on research.
"Biomanufacturing and personalized vaccine companies are really interested in the Finch Suite product and in our FDA consulting and validation," Rossman says. Finch Suite aims to provide small companies with the capacity to make the transition from research to manufacturing because it can handle large quantities of data. "The uniqueness is that the software solution includes the FDA compliance as well. And other softwares in this arena would not include that."
Banks says Finch provides customers with scale and efficiency, particularly in large labs employing several dozen analysts, where employee turnover can affect quality. Geospiza clients have reported immediate efficiency gains using Finch Suite, he says. Banks also sees additional market potential using the genetic technology to identify contaminants.
Geospiza's Finch client list includes the Mayo Clinic, Wyeth, and Merck. PSC's customer list also includes Wyeth, plus biotech and pharma companies such as Genentech and Eli Lilly, as well as small GLP labs.