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Clincal Data, IO Informatics nab ATP informatics grant
March 2006
by Chris Anderson  |  Email the author
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NEWTON, Mass.—Securing what it termed the largest Advanced Technology Program (ATP) grant for the National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST), Clinical Data and IO Informatics recently announced an agreement to partner on the final two years of a project that is designed to develop software and technology to interpret disparate data for researchers taking a systems biology approach to drug discovery.
 
The five-year, $11.7-million grant provides research funds to Clinical Data's wholly owned subsidiary Icoria which originally began work in this area three years ago. Under the latest phase of the grant, Clinical Data will apply its proprietary Gene to Cell System approach to discovery to generate data which will then be applied to IO's recently patented intelligent multidimensional object (IMO) extensible database record.
 
According to IO, the IMO technology­—which the company sells under the Sentient Suite brand—allows for the transformation of disparate pieces of data to be transformed into a single format. "Part of our intellectual property is a format by which all kinds of different data can be seen," says Pat Rougeau, president and CEO of IO Informatics. "So it allows the user to view the disparate data through a common format without transforming the data." It's a technology that she says could "transform data management in the same way PDFs transformed file sharing."
 
But it is also highly flexible, allowing for multiple ways of auditing the data, as well as providing for the propagation of standards and experimental processes, all while maintaining data integrity.
 
This capability hits Clinical Data subsidiary Icoria right in their sweet spot, considering the work it has done over the past few years in systems biology. Icoria's "multi-endpoint" research and discovery platform works to concurrently analyze gene expression, metabolomics and histomorphometry data. The goal, according to company information is "to concurrently analyze data from different levels of a biological system to discover key biological molecules that can classify clinically-relevant phenotypes."
 
According to Tom Colatsky, CSO of Icoria, the IMO technology will help the company analyze many of the large sets containing gene expression data, biochemical profiling data, metabolomics data and quantitative tissue analysis data it has generated over the past three years of the grant working with previous joint-venture grantees LION Biosciences and Agilent Technologies.
 
"It's important to note the way we are approaching this project is fundamental to the way we feel the pharmaceutical and biotechnology sectors are beginning to do discovery and development," Colatsky says. "It is no longer sufficient to rely on a single data set or data stream to generate information. It has become more and more important to look at multiple data sets and look at those not only in a linear fashion but in the same context and that is the goal of the grant: to apply a systems biology level approach to discovery."
 
It was the flexibility of the Sentient system that drew Icoria to IO, Colatsky notes, because it "didn't constrain us in a way that forced us to use tools that were pre-programmed."
 
This is exactly what IO hoped to accomplish. "It is a wonderful validating project for us and will allow us to add to our capabilities for Sentient through the work we are doing with Icoria," adds Rougeau. "It also shows that what we provide can be accomplished without a large enterprise project that can take years to roll out. With Sentient people can get results right away."
 
Code: E030609

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