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Getting to the core of the matter
CRAIGAVON, Northern Ireland—Almac Group announced recently a decision to license St. Joseph, Mich.-based GeneGo's flagship data mining suite, MetaCore, for use by its Almac Diagnostics division. GeneGo is a global provider of software, databases and services for systems biology.
Financial terms were not released, but Julie Bryant, vice president of business development and marketing for GeneGo, notes that it is merely the beginning of a multiyear partnership and that future announcements about the companies' interactions will be forthcoming.
Under the terms of the licensing deal, Almac Diagnostics scientists in the United Kingdom region and the United States will use MetaCore in the development of novel microarray-based products for the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. In addition, the Genomic Services division of Almac Diagnostics, which delivers comprehensive genomic services to academic, biotech and pharmaceutical customers, will also use MetaCore. MetaCore will be used both for internal research programs at Almac as well as for analyses for customers who run arrays with the company.
Almac values the comprehensiveness and overall quality of MetaCore's content, covering areas from signaling ligands to core metabolic pathways, notes Dr. Vitali Proutski, bioinformatics manager at Almac Diagnostics. In addition, he says that MetaCore's intuitive interface and automated analysis workflows were important to his company.
"We compared several platforms before we finally decided on GeneGo," he explains. "MetaCore has broad and deep high-quality content coverage, which was important to us. Furthermore its ability to work with mixed IDs is critical for our internal R&D work and service offerings…We were also very impressed by GeneGo's responsiveness and strong customer support which we feel is vital in relationships with our partners."
"Our content collection philosophy is different from what is available from other companies in that we have a strong scientific, biological and chemistry background that provides a unique foundation that provides our customers with more meaningful biological results," says GeneGo's Bryant. "We are told over and over again that GeneGo is the company for realistic biologically accurate results, not a company based on informatics alone."
By using MetaCore, Almac will be able to discover new biomarkers and biological insights that may not be apparent from the literature alone, Bryant says, and they can find pathway-based biomarkers that can be made into high-throughput arrays. These arrays can be used for applications ranging from preclinical to clinical to diagnostic.
While the deal is certainly important for Almac's work, it also marks growth in GeneGo's market base.
"Our products are gaining momentum in clinical diagnostics, both on the development side and among practitioners," Bryant says. "Almac combines both as a highly reputable, scientific-oriented, new-generation CRO." The Almac Group comprises five closely integrated divisions offering a broad range of global services from R&D, diagnostic/genomic services, API manufacture, formulation development, clinical trial supply and technology, and commercial-scale manufacture. Almac provides services to over 600 companies including world leaders in the pharmaceutical and biotech sectors. The company employs more than 1,16o people in Northern Ireland, nearly 160 in the United Kingdom and Ireland and more than 600 in the United States.