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GenomeQuest, Servier collaborate
WESTBOROUGH, Mass.—By entering a collaboration recently with French pharma company Servier to improve specificity of microarray probes and qPCR results, GenomeQuest Inc. is getting more than just a chance to make a product for a longtime client—it's also getting something it can market and develop for others as well.
In the collaboration, Servier provided scientific insights and guidance in relation to product requirements while GenomeQuest used its expertise in bioinformatics, high-performance computing, and data management to produce a system that optimizes experimental study design and analysis by providing a simple way to view and analyze the transcripts and biological assays for a gene.
This gave Servier access to, among other things, easily maintainable catalogs for human, mouse and rat genes, as well as a companion visualization module that integrates all Servier proprietary content with public and vendor reagent libraries. In turn, GenomeQuest has retained the right to commercialize the software and knowledge to help other companies with similar requirements to integrate their own proprietary data sets.
"This set the stage for a true win-win partnership," says Dr. Emmanuel Canet, Servier's vice president of research and development. "Servier gains early access to the technology and GenomeQuest is able to leverage the investment for the long-term."
It isn't the first time the two companies have worked together, Canet points out, noting that they have a "long track record of successful innovations…on a range of bioinformatics projects over many years."
Working with a company like Servier so closely is a huge boon to making practical products, says Ronald Ranauro, president and CEO of GenomeQuest. "The computational biologists have a sense of what can be done, while the bench biologists have a sense of what's truly needed," he explains. "Bringing them together like this is important because separately, the spark might not jump, but when they work alongside each other, you can solve problems and find innovations that might otherwise remain unsolved or hidden."
The resulting product that other customers will see themselves when version 4.0 of GenomeQuest is released this summer is called GQ Gene Viewer. The company is still working on the specific packaging and pricing of the product, but notes that if and when customers do decide to access GQ Gene Viewer, it will be a fully integrated part of GenomeQuest and not a stand-alone product.
In addition to making the lives of researchers easier, the purpose of a product like GQ Gene Viewer is to elevate the level of drug discovery and development, notes Dr. Michael J. McManus, vice president and general manager of GenomeQuest.
"We want researchers to have this unified view to figure out the specificity of specific probes or qPCR result or transcripts and other issues along those lines," he says. "That's largely done manually right now, and under the operational style in many pharmaceutical companies, people are used to doing it manually. But we are hoping we can show them a way to do this more efficiently and perhaps eliminate some user error along the way."