WESTBOROUGH, Mass.—By entering a collaboration recently withFrench pharma company Servier to improve specificity of microarray probes andqPCR results, GenomeQuest Inc. is getting more than just a chance to make aproduct for a longtime client—it's also getting something it can market anddevelop for others as well.
In the collaboration, Servier provided scientific insightsand guidance in relation to product requirements while GenomeQuest used itsexpertise in bioinformatics, high-performance computing, and data management toproduce a system that optimizes experimental study design and analysis byproviding a simple way to view and analyze the transcripts and biologicalassays for a gene.
This gave Servier access to, among other things, easilymaintainable catalogs for human, mouse and rat genes, as well as a companionvisualization module that integrates all Servier proprietary content withpublic and vendor reagent libraries. In turn, GenomeQuest has retained theright to commercialize the software and knowledge to help other companies withsimilar requirements to integrate their own proprietary data sets.
"This set the stage for a true win-win partnership," saysDr. Emmanuel Canet, Servier's vicepresident of research and development. "Servier gains early access to thetechnology and GenomeQuest is able to leverage the investment for thelong-term."
It isn't the first time the two companies have workedtogether, Canet points out, noting that they have a "long track record ofsuccessful innovations…on a range of bioinformatics projects over many years."
Working with a company like Servier so closely is a hugeboon to making practical products, says Ronald Ranauro, president and CEO ofGenomeQuest. "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 sparkmight not jump, but when they work alongside each other, you can solve problemsand find innovations that might otherwise remain unsolved or hidden."
The resulting product that other customers will seethemselves when version 4.0 of GenomeQuest is released this summer is called GQGene Viewer. The company is still working on the specific packaging and pricingof the product, but notes that if and when customers do decide to access GQGene Viewer, it will be a fully integrated part of GenomeQuest and not astand-alone product.
In addition to making the lives of researchers easier, thepurpose of a product like GQ Gene Viewer is to elevate the level of drugdiscovery and development, notes Dr. Michael J. McManus, vice president andgeneral manager of GenomeQuest.
"We want researchers to have this unified view to figure outthe specificity of specific probes or qPCR result or transcripts and otherissues along those lines," he says. "That's largely done manually right now,and under the operational style in many pharmaceutical companies, people areused to doing it manually. But we are hoping we can show them a way to do thismore efficiently and perhaps eliminate some user error along the way."