Getting to the core of the matter

Almac licenses MetaCore for cancer-oriented microarrays and genomic services

Jeffrey Bouley
CRAIGAVON, Northern Ireland—Almac Group announced recently adecision to license St. Joseph, Mich.-based GeneGo's flagship data miningsuite, MetaCore, for use by its Almac Diagnostics division. GeneGo is a globalprovider of software, databases and services for systems biology.
Financial terms were not released, but Julie Bryant, vicepresident of business development and marketing for GeneGo, notes that it ismerely the beginning of a multiyear partnership and that future announcementsabout the companies' interactions will be forthcoming.
Under the terms of the licensing deal, Almac Diagnosticsscientists in the United Kingdomregion and the United Stateswill use MetaCore in the development of novel microarray-based products for thediagnosis and treatment of cancer. In addition, the Genomic Services divisionof Almac Diagnostics, which delivers comprehensive genomic services toacademic, biotech and pharmaceutical customers, will also use MetaCore.MetaCore will be used both for internal research programs at Almac as well asfor analyses for customers who run arrays with the company.
Almac values the comprehensiveness and overall quality ofMetaCore's content, covering areas from signaling ligands to core metabolicpathways, notes Dr. Vitali Proutski, bioinformatics manager at AlmacDiagnostics. In addition, he says that MetaCore's intuitive interface andautomated analysis workflows were important to his company.
"We compared several platforms before we finally decided onGeneGo," he explains. "MetaCore has broad and deep high-quality contentcoverage, which was important to us. Furthermore its ability to work with mixedIDs is critical for our internal R&D work and service offerings…We werealso very impressed by GeneGo's responsiveness and strong customer supportwhich we feel is vital in relationships with our partners."
"Our content collection philosophy is different from what isavailable from other companies in that we have a strong scientific, biologicaland chemistry background that provides a unique foundation that provides ourcustomers with more meaningful biological results," says GeneGo's Bryant. "Weare told over and over again that GeneGo is the company for realisticbiologically accurate results, not a company based on informatics alone."
By using MetaCore, Almac will be able to discover newbiomarkers and biological insights that may not be apparent from the literaturealone, Bryant says, and they can find pathway-based biomarkers that can be madeinto high-throughput arrays. These arrays can be used for applications rangingfrom preclinical to clinical to diagnostic.
While the deal is certainly important for Almac's work, italso 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. "Almaccombines both as a highly reputable, scientific-oriented, new-generation CRO." The Almac Group comprises five closely integrateddivisions offering a broad range of global services from R&D,diagnostic/genomic services, API manufacture, formulation development, clinicaltrial supply and technology, and commercial-scale manufacture. Almac providesservices to over 600 companies including world leaders in the pharmaceuticaland 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.
 

Jeffrey Bouley

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