Easing the Bioinformatics Bottleneck: OnRamp Bioinformatics

October 4, 2017 | Posted by Team in Helpful products, Lab Profiles, New Innovations, Research, Uncategorized |

By Natalie Foote, Director of Service Provider Operations, Science Exchange | www.scienceexchange.comOnRamp Bio Logo

According to Tim Wesselman, CEO of today’s featured provider OnRamp Bioinformatics, there are only 15,000 bioinformaticians worldwide today to support more than 2 million biologists and other researchers. As a result, analysis has become the rate-limiting step in next-generation sequencing studies, and very large datasets may go un-analyzed to the point of obsoletion.

To ease this bottleneck, OnRamp Bio offers services that empower researchers with insights that they can understand and put into action.

Software as a service: accessible bioinformatics for non-experts

OnRamp Bio has made significant progress in making bioinformatics accessible to larger numbers of researchers. Earlier this year, OnRamp Bio launched a new software-as-a-service for RNA-Seq analysis, to meet the needs of researchers needing assistance in making decisions based on the large data sets yielded by RNA-Seq experiments.

Genomics big data and complex software analyses have historically required highly trained PhDs in Bioinformatics using complicated command-line tools. OnRamp Bio’s intuitive user interface, automated analyses and robust data management make it faster and easier for scientists, biologists, clinicians and other medical professionals to obtain interpretations of genomic data without the complexity of traditional deployments.

“IT complexity has stood in the way of progress for far too long. We’ve combined our deep knowledge of IT and biology to provide intuitive, integrated systems and services that accelerate mainstream adoption of NGS analyses within biotech and pharma,” said Tim Wesselman, CEO of OnRamp Bio. “For institutions focused on drug discovery, cancer research, diagnostic, or therapeutic development, OnRamp Bio can help show how to implement next generation sequencing to securely build into future research, while getting immediate answers more cost-efficiently.”

In addition to offering end-to-end genomic analysis services, OnRamp Bio recently made the news when it launched Rosalind™, the first-ever software platform specifically designed to simplify genomic analysis (named for one of the researchers who discovered the double helix structure of DNA).

Faces of OnRamp Bioinformatics

Jeremy Davis-Turak OnRamp BioJeremy Davis-Turak, VP of Bioinformatics, earned his Ph.D. in Bioinformatics and Systems Biology in the lab of Dr. Alexander Hoffmann at UCSD, researching kinetic models of co-transcriptional splicing.  In his studies, Dr. Davis-Turak developed analyses for RNA-seq, nascent RNA-seq, GRO-seq and MNase-seq that were intimately linked with mechanistic models.  He set up the Bioinformatics Core at the San Diego Center for Systems Biology, optimizing pipeline for RNA-seq and ChIP-seq.  

 

Jean Lozach OnRamp BioJean Lozach, Chief Technology Officer, joined OnRamp Bio after more than 25 years experience in Genomics, Bioinformatics and Information Technology at Illumina and UCSD. Jean brought deep experience and knowledge of biology, wet lab operations, microarrays, and next generation sequencing together with advanced bioinformatics, software development and enterprise IT infrastructure. Jean is recognized as an industry expert in genomics and bioinformatics, and has led tens of successful customer deployments of next generation sequencing and informatics systems.

Roshni Patel OnRamp BioRoshni Patel, Bioinformatician, has helped complete many projects for OnRamp Bio’s clients. She earned her BS of Bioinformatics from the University of California at San Diego, and she is passionate about breaking down workflow complexity, improving data metrics and visualization.

 

 

What Science Exchange Requesters are saying about OnRamp Bioinformatics

OnRamp Bio’s storefront shows several testimonials from Science Exchange requesters. One review, in particular, applauds both the breadth and quality of their services: “I highly recommend OnRamp for their Bioinformatics expertise. I have worked with them on several genomics and metagenomics projects and the team is professional, completes the work on deadline and budget, and generated results we hadn’t expected. OnRamp will work with you every step of the way, from project inception, through interfacing with sequencing partners, through developing novel informatics solutions for your project. OnRamp’s bioinformatics platform has many unique attributes that make it appealing, but their data and analysis tracking is just amazing: provenance for all your analyses from the minute the sequences arrive.”

 

Visit the OnRamp Bio storefront today to request some quotes!

 

The Robotic Cloud Laboratory for the Life Sciences: Transcriptic

September 20, 2017 | Posted by Team in Drug Discovery, Lab Profiles, New Innovations, Research |

Transcriptic LogoBy Natalie Foote, Director of Service Provider Operations, Science Exchange | www.scienceexchange.com

 

In this Provider Innovation Profile, we’re proud to feature Transcriptic, whose automated cellular and molecular biology platform enables scalable life science research with flexibility and precision.

Automation is a rapidly advancing area of biotechnology, and Science Exchange hopes to give our researchers access to unique robotics platforms while helping them save on equipment costs and manage laboratory space limitations.

Transcriptic’s robotic cloud lab paradigm means biologists can be running experiments on the other side of the planet from their lab, leveraging a bank of robotic workcells for massive experimentation.

Transcriptic frees researchers to focus on the creative aspects of their science by providing faster, more reliable and repeatable processes with vastly lower capital costs than previously possible.

Differentiators: Transparency, flexibility, multiplex-ity

Transcriptic Robotic Workcell

Multiple integrated automated devices per workcell

  • Transparency: No other service provider on the planet can tell you exactly how they run an experiment on the user’s behalf. Transcriptic provides deep transparency into how users’ experiments were run by executing experiments exactly as specified and also providing retrospective diagnostic data on individual instrument performance during the experiment.
  • Flexible robotics: Being a robotic cloud lab, the Transcriptic system can dynamically provision robotic resources to process samples for users. For example, the system might start the week at a scale of one plate and end the week on hundreds of plates. Users only pay for the resources they use, reaping the reproducibility and throughput benefits of robotics without any of the overhead.
  • Easy multiplexing: The Transcriptic web application makes it easy as checking a box to detect an additional analyte in your sample. When it’s that easy, you can perform multiplexed quantiation of more analytes, starting to generate a more accurate picture of the phenotypic state of your sample.

Featured Service: Mesocale Discovery (MSD) Assay

The MSD assay, validated in many bioanalytical methods per U.S. FDA and EMA guidances, is offered as a service by Transcriptic. The Mesoscale Discovery Sector S 600 instrument is fully integrated with the Transcriptic robotic cloud lab.

The MSD S 600 instrument performs multiplexed detection of up to 10 analytes per well, ensuring the highest data-to-sample quantity efficiency, in immunoassays. Multiple assay panels are available from the V-Plex line, all conducted with complete automated precision by robots in the cloud. Custom panel assays are also available through the MSD U-Plex system.

Why requesters choose Transcriptic

Transcriptic, in collaboration with multiple biopharma companies and non-academic laboratories, has delivered many peer-reviewed publications and conference presentations.

Transcriptic presented one interesting study at SynBioBeta 2016. In collaboration with EpiBiome, Transcriptic’s automated platform provided a robust, reproducible and high-throughput method for on-demand microbiome characterization. This workflow captured sample prep through NGS and sequencing analysis in 7-10 days, allowing for fast, iterative cycles of microbiome screening.

Visit the Transcriptic storefront today to request some quotes!

 

Science Exchange Signs on as LabCentral Sponsor to Support Life Science Startups with Outsourced Services

August 30, 2017 | Posted by Team in Company, Press Release, Science Exchange News, Small Biotech Stories |

LabCentral Partners with Science Exchange

Cambridge-based LabCentral’s high-potential startups will now have access to the Science Exchange network of more than 2,500 qualified scientific service providers

PALO ALTO, Calif. and CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (August 30, 2017) – Biotech innovation hub LabCentral today announced that it has signed Science Exchange, the world’s leading and most secure platform for outsourced research and development (R&D), as a sponsor to support its life science and biotech resident startups. Companies within LabCentral’s shared workspaces are now able to order R&D services instantly via a customized Science Exchanged-powered marketplace, with access to more than 2,500 qualified scientific service providers.

“We’ve designed LabCentral as a supportive and nurturing environment designed to inspire interaction and collaboration, providing everything that early-stage companies need to thrive, moving their science forward faster, and cost-effectively,” said LabCentral Cofounder and President Johannes Fruehauf, M.D., Ph.D. , LabCentral. “We’re thrilled to have Science Exchange support our companies by offering instant access to their network of innovative service providers — it’s another way we can provide our startups the resources they need to accelerate their groundbreaking discoveries.”

LabCentral joins more than 30 enterprise clients that are using Science Exchange-powered marketplaces to manage their outsourced R&D. This partnership addresses the needs of LabCentral’s unique ecosystem, giving its startup network the same level of access to advanced scientific services that is enjoyed by Science Exchange’s established global pharmaceutical and biotechnology clients. With these new resources, early-stage companies will be able to continue to drive their discoveries forward.

A biotech innovation hub, LabCentral is a first-of-its-kind shared laboratory space designed as a launch-pad for high-potential life science and biotech startups. It offers fully permitted laboratory and office space for dozens of startups. LabCentral provides facility and administrative support, skilled laboratory personnel, and other critical services and support that early-stage companies need to begin laboratory operations on day one.

“The opportunity to partner with organizations like LabCentral is why we founded Science Exchange six years ago,” said Dr. Elizabeth Iorns, founder and CEO of Science Exchange. “We deliver efficient and secure access to thousands of qualified scientific service providers – removing significant barriers to innovation and helping companies bring important products to market faster.”

The Science Exchange marketplace will help LabCentral’s resident companies:

  • Gain immediate access to qualified service providers. Science Exchange offers a network of more than 2,500 service providers that have been qualified through a stringent, ISO 9001-certified evaluation process that includes metrics tied to performance on past projects.
  • Reduce administrative and regulatory review costs. Under the partnership, all service providers on the LabCentral-Science Exchange network are available under a single contract that protects intellectual property and confidentiality. Science Exchange’s in-house audit team also conducts inspections to ensure that contracted service providers possess necessary certifications, licenses, informed consent of subjects, and data security.
  • Save time and money. The LabCentral entrepreneurs and startups working on groundbreaking scientific discoveries will now be able to quickly request competitive bids through the Science Exchange platform and select the right partner to keep their projects on track. 

About LabCentral (www.labcentral.org; twitter @labcentral)

LabCentral is a first-of-its-kind shared laboratory workspace in the heart of the Kendall Square, Cambridge, biotech innovation hub. Designed as a launchpad for high-potential life-sciences and biotech startups, it offers everything startups need to begin laboratory operations on day one and move their science forward faster and more cost-efficiently. This includes: fully permitted laboratory and office space, first-class facility and administrative support, skilled laboratory personnel, a domain-relevant expert speaker series ‒ as well as the other critical services and support. A private, nonprofit institution, LabCentral’s first site opened in 2013, thanks to a capital grant from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, with support from its real-estate partner, MIT. Founding sponsors include Triumvirate Environmental and Johnson & Johnson Innovation.

 

New on Science Exchange: Nobel-worthy Nanosensors, MacroDSF, Fluidigm, and More

August 22, 2017 | Posted by Team in Drug Discovery, Lab Profiles, New Innovations, Research |

Nobel-worthy nanosensors

In 2007, Charles Lieber, the Harvard scientist who many say is in the running for a Nobel prize, co-founded Vista NanoBioSciences to enable drug discovery researchers to use his team’s nanosensor technologies for label-free, ultrasensitive detection of proteins, nucleic acids, and even single viral particles.

Functionalized Nanowires Vista NanoBioSciences

Vista NanoBioSciences’ ultrasensitive biomarker detection platform (left) uses functionalized nanowires (“NW”) that respond to interactions with individual biomolecules.

Vista NanoBioSensor

Now available through Science Exchange, Vista NanoBioSciences offers biomarker assays using its portable NanoBioSensor™ and BioTracker™ platforms. Vista’s NanoBioSensor precisely detects and measures biomarkers in a finger-stick drop of blood, other bodily fluid, or tissue culture – without labeling and in less than 10 minutes. Vista’s BioTracker provides continuous monitoring of dynamic changes in the targeted analytes of any biological material.  Both devices are portable, exhibiting very high sensitivity (10³ increase over ELISA), high specificity, across multiple logs of concentration, in real time.

Taking the pain out of protein purification with MacroDSF

Empowered by high-throughput protein purification and structure determination technologies, structure-based drug discovery is enjoying a resurgence.

NovAliX, a new provider on the Science Exchange network, gives you access to the ProteoPlex MacroDSF platform, an exciting tool for rapidly optimizing conditions for protein purification and crystallization.

The instrument quickly optimizes  protein concentration, pH value, salt, buffer, stabilizing additive, etc — potentially increasing a purified protein’s stability or even the resolution of its crystal structure!

NovAliX also offers a broad range of biophysical characterization services to provide a complete picture of the protein of interest.

Fluidigm custom assay development

Interested in Fluidigm’s powerful mass cytometry and microfluidics platforms, but lack the resources to design the perfect assay?

Now you can take advantage of Fluidigm’s expertise using the company’s own team of assay development scientists. Through Science Exchange, you can order custom assays for Fluidigm’s CyTOF®, Helios®, and integrated fluidic circuit-based platforms.

Oncology, from ABL1 to ZAP70

Based in Freiburg, Germany, ProQinase has been supporting oncology research for 16 years. Now on Science Exchange, ProQinase offers biochemical assay services (such as kinase screens), cellular assay services (such as proliferation, invasion and spheroid assays), and in vivo assay services (including immuno-oncology and metastasis models).

The scientific staff at ProQinase are thought leaders in oncology research. At the 2017 AACR Annual Meeting, they presented a novel assay platform to distinguish ATP-competitive from non-ATP-competitive kinase inhibitors.

Medicinal chemistry and process optimization

If you’re looking for a full-service laboratory to execute your chemistry projects, you’ll be happy to see the addition of Kalexsyn, a chemical synthesis powerhouse based in Michigan, U.S.A, to the Science Exchange network.

Whether it’s developing novel scaffolds, SAR, modification of complex natural products or challenging macrocyclic peptides, Kalexsyn’s deep bench of Ph.D. chemists provides IP-enabling expertise.

The Kalexsyn team has produced over 1000 publications and patents and has served over 85 pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.

 

Connect with a new provider today!

Are you new to Science Exchange? See how it works.

In vivo Phenotypic Screening: Melior Discovery

August 19, 2017 | Posted by Team in Drug Discovery, Helpful products, Lab Profiles, New Innovations, Research |

By Natalie Foote, Director of Service Provider Operations, Science Exchange | www.scienceexchange.com

Melior Logo

Phenotypic Screening Pioneer Launches Novel Analgesia Panel

In this Provider Innovation Profile, we’re proud to feature Melior Discovery, a pioneer of in vivo phenotypic screening and a leader in the area of drug repositioning.

Melior’s platform evaluates compounds through up to 40 different animal models representing 14 broad therapeutic areas, potentially uncovering therapeutic efficacy that might be undetected using traditional assessments.

Recently, Melior made the news with its novel opioidTRACE® Analgesic Profiling Platform. Given the need to develop low-abuse analgesics to address the opioid crisis, Melior has configured an in vivo platform aimed at specifically profiling opioid therapeutics and related analgesics.

The opioidTRACE® platform addresses the multiple features characteristic of opioids, including rodent models that evaluate acute analgesia, chronic analgesia, respiratory depression, GI mobility, and abuse liability. In addition to opioid testing, Melior has a wide array of animal models of analgesia ranging models of acute pain to chronic neuropathy models. 

[click to view larger view of opioidTRACE® animal models]Opioid Trace In Vivo Models

Backed by Expertise in In Vivo Screening

Melior’s new panel is just the latest demonstration of the team’s unique know-how in applying “production-mode” methods for in vivo screening across multiple therapeutic areas. Its proprietary theraTRACE® platform enables rapid and cost-effective identification of new therapeutic potential by systematically screening candidates in a diverse array of validated in vivo disease models.

Fibrosis is another disease area for which Melior’s panels have exemplified the utility of in vivo  phenotypic screening. Melior has validated models of liver and lung fibrosis; download the validation data for these models from the Resources section of Melior’s Science Exchange storefront.

Why Requesters are Choosing Melior for In vivo Studies

Melior’s capability directly translates to efficiencies combined with high levels of quality for their clients. Positive ratings and testimonials illustrate the benefits that attract repeat business for Melior:

  • High reproducibility and predictive power of in vivo methodologies, models, and assays assuring high quality of data
  • Lower overall costs resulting from the availability of highly cost effective preclinical services from Melior
  • Rapid responses to requests for service and quick turnaround times for preclinical studies
  • Ability to rapidly customize, design, and modify models in response to requests for specialized in vivo services or changes in protocols or unexpected results at any stage of the study

Dr. Sridharan Rajamani, Senior Research Scientist at Gilead Sciences, said that his team chose Melior Discovery because they were responsive and cost effective.  “We are staying with them as a chosen scientific partner because of their thoughtful scientific input to experimental design and attention to detail,” said Dr. Rajamani. “Their expertise and flexibility allowed us to quickly adapt the study design and evaluate additional outcome measures to pursue unexpected activity.”  

Interested in working with Melior Discovery? Request a quote to start the discussion.

New Service Providers Available on Science Exchange

August 2, 2017 | Posted by Team in Drug Discovery, Lab Profiles, New Innovations, Research |
Image of Colon Tumor Cells courtesy of OcellO

Image of Colon Tumor Stem Cells courtesy of OcellO

If you aren’t exploring the latest cell culture models of human tissue for nonclinical and preclinical testing, you should be.

That’s the bottom line of today’s Science Exchange service provider roundup — three of the five newest service providers on our platform are experts in developing predictive models.

Advances in predictive model systems

Axiogenesis, based in Germany, develops iPSC-derived models of cardiac tissue, neurons, and other cell types. In late 2016, the company made the news when researchers at the United States FDA published a peer-reviewed study showing that Axiogenesis’s Cor.4U cardiomyocyte model was the most predictive model in cardiac safety tests. Last month, researchers at Wake Forest University used the Cor.4U model to develop a digitally trackable beating-heart biosensor. The future of cardiac safety clearly lies beyond hERG channel electrophysiology!

Generating tissue models with precise spatial resolution is possible using 3D bioprinting, in which Cypre Biotech is an expert. Based in San Francisco, USA, the company focuses on customizing the extracellular matrix of tumor microenvironment models to match certain cancer subtypes. Given the impact of new cancer drugs, including certain immunotherapies, on the tumor microenvironment, technologies such as that developed by Cypre are going to be needed for testing safety and efficacy.

The third service provider in this roundup excelling in the development of clinically relevant microtissue models is OcellO, headquartered in the Netherlands. Researchers at OcellO have published numerous peer-reviewed studies showing how combining three-dimensional tissue culture with high-throughput imaging can enable efficient, automated screening and phenotypic profiling. Their most recent publication showed that phenotypic screening of kinase inhibitors could reveal potential new targets for polycystic kidney disease (view abstract in the Resources section of the OcellO storefront).

Analytical methods for translational research

As model systems advance in complexity and throughput, analytical methods must keep pace. Two service providers new on Science Exchange are known for their expertise in developing reliable analytical methods.

Pangaea Oncology is one of the most prestigious laboratories in the world in the fields of molecular diagnostics, pathology, and related analysis services for translational research. We are thrilled to have the Pangaea team, led by expert Dr. Rafael Rosell and Nobel laureate Dr. Santiago Ramón y Cajal, join the Science Exchange platform! Pangaea Oncology was the first laboratory in Spain to be accredited to perform certain genetic tests for cancer in serum/plasma samples, advancing precision medicine.

We also bring you Metis Laboratories, whose analytical expertise centers on radiotracer-based assays. These assays remain one of the most sensitive and specific platforms for assessing ligand binding and compound distribution; however, complex handling requirements mean that outsourcing these studies is far more practical than developing radiotracer assays in house.

Connect with a new provider today!

Are you new to Science Exchange? See how it works.

Shark Poaching Exposed by the Science Exchange Network

June 8, 2017 | Posted by Team in Research, Stories |

by Kaitlin Ziemer and JR Clark, Science Exchange | www.scienceexchange.com

Today, we celebrate World Oceans Day with a Science Exchange success story. This is a story about connecting ocean conservation advocates with the scientists whose expertise is helping to guide conservation strategy.  

World Oceans Day -- Sharks

Robust shark populations are a sign of healthy oceans. [photo credit: JR Clark]

The Project Earth team from Fusion TV approached Science Exchange with a unique sequencing project. They were working on a documentary film about the illegal poaching of sharks for use in shark cartilage capsules.

Studies have shown that shark cartilage is ineffective or even pro-inflammatory. Despite this and the importance of conserving sharks, who are the ocean’s apex predators, the cartilage capsule industry has managed to persuade retailers and consumers that shark cartilage could promote joint and bone health.

The Fusion TV Project Earth team wanted to find out if cartilage pills contained illegally obtained shark tissue. They needed a service provider who could perform DNA sequencing on 30 different supplements to see if they contained protected or endangered sharks.

Through the Science Exchange network, the Fusion TV Project Earth team obtained sequencing services from Laragen, Inc., a California-based service provider. Together, they were able to detect DNA from the endangered scalloped hammerhead sharks, whose trade is highly regulated, in the capsules sold at nationwide health food stores and pharmacies.

The Fusion TV Project Earth team urged both the cartilage pill manufacturers and retailers to share more precise information about the origins of the shark material found in the pills. In response, two major retailers removed shark cartilage pills from their stores and website.

These results showed that scientific evidence can influence positive change and help to protect our natural environment. And by providing the Fusion TV Project Earth team with easy access to the world’s best scientific service providers, Science Exchange helped put the data directly into the hands of the agents of change.

About the authors:

 

Kaitlin Ziemer, B.S., is a Senior Sourcing Manager and Account Lead at Science Exchange. With her extensive prior experience in managing toxicology and regulated studies for large biopharma and contract research organizations, Kaitlin now specializes in human and animal tissue procurement.

JR Clark, M.S., is Science Exchange’s expert in shark biology, given his extensive research experience in evolutionary development and reproductive behavior of vertebrates. As a Sourcing Manager, he manages a wide variety of projects from basic research through drug discovery.

Trinity Bioactives – Measuring Bioactivity in Everything

February 7, 2017 | Posted by Team in Lab Profiles |

Trinity Bioactives

We’re pretty sure we can measure the bioactivity of almost anything.

‘Bioactive’ is one of those tricky terms… it can mean many things to many people.

Trinity Bioactive’s definition of it is a compound that does something to living tissue.

Trinity’s expertise is to prove that products such as skin cream, honey-based products, green-lipped mussel powders, oils, and other mostly natural products, ‘do’ something. They use other scientists’ internationally published, peer-reviewed methods to verify that product X has Y effect, which they show as evidence of bioactivity.

Trinity solves the problem of many health product companies and developers of being able to demonstrate that their products work.

To this end, Trinity reckons that it can measure the biological presence and activity of almost anything, if it exists.

Dr Paul Davis

Dr Paul Davis – Research Director and CEO – Trinity Bioactives

Research Director and CEO Paul Davis is tempted to say that there’s no product or extract whose biological activity Trinity can’t measure. But, being the experienced biomedical researcher that he is, he prefers to err on the side of caution.

The Wellington-based laboratory, with satellite offices in Melbourne and Salt Lake City, uses assays or models as a proxy to establish that an extract, mixture, compound or product has biologically active and available properties.

The company’s team is consists mostly of PhD holders, who uses almost 200 assay models to measure a diverse range of biological potencies and efficiencies. Many are cell cultures — stomach cells, tumors, or cell models that measure diabetic or skin responses.

“All of our methodologies are peer-reviewed, and written up and published in reputable international scientific and medical journals,” says Paul. “When we put together our study protocols, we cite the papers the methods are based on.”

The studies consist of mostly natural products including the safety, toxicology, and efficacies of honey, bee propolis, dairy products, green-lipped mussels, traditional medicines, emu oil and other oils, and a number of other raw materials.

Manufacturers of nutraceuticals, functional foods, skin care compounds, over-the-counter internet products, supermarkets, and health food stores are among the global clients for whom Trinity carries out its specialized tests.

These clients include companies:

  • developing new processing methods to improve their products
  • looking for useful functionality from their biological waste streams
  • investigating new activities for existing bioactives and products
  • investigating the possible synergistic effect of combining two or more compounds

“Everything we do is customized to the clients’ requirements,” says Paul. “This is based on a Study Plan; an agreement and approval of what and how we are going to measure a biological presence and response. After the conclusion of the study, a confidential report is supplied back to the client.”

“That’s why our conversations with clients beforehand are so important. We’re aware of the latest regulations out of Europe or the USA, we’re up with the latest modeling research, we appreciate a client wants authentic and verifiable data to provide them with an evidence-led, marketing story.”

Trinity Bioactives Lab

Davis says that the experience, methodologies and consultancy practices developed over the company’s 22-year history are major factors in providing cost-effective proof of bioactivity.

The other advantage of operating in a tightly connected, highly-educated, well-regulated market such as New Zealand is that Trinity Bioactives is able to link into the expertise of other researchers and science providers. These include the universities (including the medical schools), the crown research institutes, other R&D companies and institutions and clinical trials groups. “We have a real concentration of facilities and expertise quite close to us,” says Paul.

“We know what we and others can do, and can tap into that. It means that when someone asks if we can do something, we don’t need to say no, as if it is not in our portfolio, we know someone who can help. We just need a day or two to work on a plan. We almost invariably get back with a way we’d provide scientific evidence and proof of what they wish to validate.”

“From a bioactivity point of view, there’s not much that we or our networks can’t scientifically measure and validate,” says Paul.

“We have expertise, connectivity, and can answer important questions for clients about their products… We realize that our clients are seeking data to assist the marketing of their products and we are happy to assist.”


Would you like to work with Trinity Bioactives on your next project? Trinity Bioactives and thousands of other high-quality service providers look forward to doing business with you on the Science Exchange platform. Request a free quote from any of these service providers today!

AsureQuality

November 21, 2016 | Posted by Team in Lab Profiles |

Science Exchange has top quality service providers located in all parts of the world. Today we’re profiling one of our newest service providers AsureQuality, a New Zealand based provider of food safety and biosecurity services to the food and primary production sectors worldwide.

Science Exchange correspondent Peter Kerr recently paid a visit to their Lower Hutt laboratory where he caught up with Chief Science Officer (CSO) Dr. Harry van Enckevort.

Global mindset drives Kiwi ‘stamp of approval’ enterprise

AsureQuality

Dr. Harry van Enckevort AsureQuality CSO

How does an organisation from the bottom of the world, excel internationally in verifying and stamping its approval on food quality and safety?

The first answer is because New Zealand exports over 90% of the food it produces, and other countries demand assurances of quality and safety against their market access standards.

The second is through 120 years of experience backed by expertise, professionalism and integrity which sees AsureQuality as its home country’s premier food assurances provider. These attributes also see it with significant operations in Australia, Singapore, China and the Middle East.

AsureQuality’s 1700 people have inherited and continue to develop world-leading inspection, auditing, certification, testing, training, advisory and authentication services.

As a recognised Conformity Assessment Body (CAB) it has a mandate that integrates inspection and certification with testing.

Dr. van Enckevort says food is the State Owned Enterprise’s main focus – giving consumers confidence in what they eat while also protecting the brands of countries and companies.

As well as New Zealand clients, customers include very well known non-NZ multinationals, with some of these brands also in the very sensitive infant formula space.

“AsureQuality also has a key role in New Zealand’s food safety regulatory framework and to do that we have to walk the line between customers and regulators. To achieve it we can’t have conflicts of interest. In practice it means across all AsureQuality services, we have to maintain our independence. We can only do that because we carefully cultivate our expertise, professionalism and integrity.”

Dr. van Enckevort says the organisation is based on a deeply skilled people resource underpinned by its science and technical capabilities.

“We also have a worldwide overview – helping take exports out of New Zealand and bringing global perspectives back home,” he says. “That customer focus is a two-way flow; they lead us and we lead them. If we didn’t there is no way we’d have our global expertise in food quality and safety.”

He says the company instills continual improvement through looking at ourselves and customer feedback and surveys.

“We’re constantly looking at what we need to do to stay relevant and ahead of the game and competition,” Dr van Enckevort says. “We’re always looking to find a better way, challenging our people how we can do things better, faster and smarter while still maintaining the quality of our output. Because there’s always changes in customers and industry as well as customer needs, we have feedback loops and responses.”

A particular point of focus is to add value for a customer beyond mere compliance, not simply ticking a box as part of an audit or certification.

When we give customer feedback in an audit, they might ask what the options are to mitigate the issues, “We say, here are some options – we don’t tell them what to do – they need to make their own call,” he says.

For AsureQuality to still be thriving in five years time, “to still have relevance, we will have to be commercially successful.”

“Our market offering will have to continue to be relevant, and we’ll need to maintain our comparative advantage against our competitors. If we do that we’d like to think we’ll have a larger global presence than we presently do. To achieve that we’ll need to continue to have the right people in the right place with the right expertise and service.”

“So far we’ve met the demands of customers and stakeholders all across the world. By maintaining our core focus on science and technology that is how we will continue to provide the services they want, how we will continue to grow.”

AsureQuality Lab


Would you like to work with AsureQuality on your next project? AsureQuality and thousands of other high quality service providers look forward to doing business with you on the Science Exchange platform. Request a free quote from any of these service providers today!

Mass Spec: Shedding Light on Cancer Biomarkers with Century-Old Technology

October 5, 2016 | Posted by Christina Cordova in Research, Stories, Uncategorized |

Imagine telling the inventor of the radio that the technology he discovered was now found in almost every kitchen in America, and that you used it to make your popcorn last night. He’d probably be surprised, and maybe you are, too.  Sound far-fetched? Many aspects of modern life rely on technology that was first identified by 19th century physicists and then adapted to new applications. This not only includes microwave ovens from the example above, but state-of-the-art lab equipment which is poised to change the way researchers treat cancer. It might be hard to imagine cutting-edge discoveries in proteomics or precision medicine are the result of technology first conceived over a hundred years ago, but that’s what a new application called proteomic mass spectrometry imaging is doing for cancer diagnostic tests.

Many life scientists utilize research tools built on principles first explored and defined by physics, and mass spectrometry is a particularly impactful example. The technology we now use to measure mass-to-charge ratios of ions for the purpose of molecular analysis was first developed by J.J. Thomson on an instrument called a parabolic spectrograph in 1913. The spectrograph generated ions in gas discharge tubes, then passed the ions through parallel electric and magnetic fields. Subjecting the ions to these fields forced them to move in certain parabolic trajectories which would then be recorded on a photographic plate, as seen in the rather beautiful image below.

Discovery_of_neon_isotopesIt was Thomson’s research at the end of the 19th century that lead to the discovery of the electron, work that eventually won him the Nobel Prize in physics in 1906. To hear a 77 year-old Thomson talk about that research (and how very small electrons are at around the 2:50 mark), watch this video filmed in 1934.

Besides the name change (there aren’t any spectrographs in labs these days), mass spectrometry has come a long way technologically. Advances by subsequent researchers made the technology more precise and the resulting output more accurate. In 1920 the first modern mass spectrometer was developed by Arthur Dempster, of uranium isotope fame, and by the 1970s scientists had begun experimenting with joining liquid chromatography techniques to the process. In 1989 the first LC-MS instrument was launched, securing it as a ubiquitous technique now in its third decade of use. The staying power of this technology is due to its versatility; it is able to directly analyze any biological molecule receptive to ionization. Scientists can use LC-MS to better understand the molecular structure of everything from wastewater to skin cream. The data collected during analysis can inform evaluation of product effectiveness, environmental toxins, or the function of a protein. For this reason it provides valuable research applications in environmental analysis, consumer products, agriculture, and in this case, precision medicine.

Now a bona fide buzzword, the concept of precision medicine was catapulted into the social vernacular in 2015 when President Obama announced the Precision Medicine Initiative in his State of the Union Address. In practice, precision medicine isn’t entirely new; physicians and researchers have long understood the importance of individualized factors in treating or diagnosing patients. The concept of blood type matching and bone marrow donation registries are both examples of precision medicine we have accepted as standard treatments. Advances in biotechnology are ushering in a new emphasis on specialized medicine and carry with it the hope of more effective diagnostics and treatments for ailments like cardiovascular disease and cancer. Much of this promise rests on discoveries being made in the field of proteomics, particularly about the role of proteins in healthy cells versus diseased cells. The form, function, and interaction of these proteins can indicate the presence of disease, identify molecular therapeutic targets, and help define molecular disease taxonomies for future research. Finding a measurable indicator for any of these biological states is called a biomarker, making it the focus of many proteomics and cancer researchers.

It turns out, a very familiar technology is proving to be the best tool for unlocking the largely unknown world of proteins. LC-MS breaks down the complicated protein structures from their three dimensional form, and then into even smaller units called peptides. The quantitative analysis of these peptides makes it possible for scientists to identify protein expression profiles associated with certain cancers. Clinically viable biomarker panels could greatly increase early detection and definitive disease identification in patients, both of which are known to improve patient survival rate. This specificity in diagnosis allows patients and physicians to be better informed when making treatment decisions by understanding the disease on a molecular level. Biomarkers can improve standard differential diagnosis descriptions, which up to now have largely included physical symptoms that manifest at later stages of disease development, like metastasis. Some diseases like malignant melanoma present in very cryptic ways, making them difficult to diagnose, even for highly trained dermatopathologists. Inconclusive biopsy results or histological features that are also found in non-cancerous moles complicate diagnosis and can lead to costly mistakes in the course of treatment for such a common and potentially deadly disease. According to the American Cancer Society over 10,000 people will die this year from the disease, making it the most lethal of all skin cancers. A collaborative research project between Yale scientists and Protea Biosciences is seeking to change that with a new diagnostic technology. In April of this year they announced exclusive licensing for a method which uses unique protein expression profiles to discern the presence of cancer. The results of the first clinical study were presented in 2015, showing 99 percent accuracy in identifying malignant melanoma and benign melanocytic nevi.

Achievements like this highlight the benefit of partnerships between academia and industry, which are becoming more common in many sectors of biotechnology. If precision medicine is to become a reality, it will have to tackle complex disease models that have historically confounded individual pharmaceutical companies or research labs. Open innovation between researchers on both sides advances scientific discovery and expedites successful clinical implementation of potentially life-saving drugs. As scientists work on more complicated human health issues, they will need to find collaborators who are best suited to solve the research objective at hand, while accessing novel technologies best suited for the job.

Just as the concept of precision medicine has expanded with scientific discoveries in biotechnology, the technique of mass spectrometry has evolved to address new research questions with advances in bioinformatics and lab technology. Deciphering the human proteome is still a ways off, but innovative techniques and research partnerships will surely have a role to play in unlocking the power of proteomics for human health. As LC-MS capabilities continue to improve, new disease diagnostics and treatments will be added to the arsenal of options available to physicians. The next time you hear about an advancement in precision medicine (or pop a bag of popcorn), thank a physicist.

Looking for a cutting-edge collaborator like Protea to help with your research project? Visit our marketplace to find the right provider for your mass spec analysis, or any of the thousands of experiment types we offer.

About Science Exchange

We are transforming scientific collaboration by creating a marketplace where scientists can order experiments from the world's top labs.

Check the Science Exchange blog for updates, opinions, guest posts and the latest happenings at Science Exchange HQ!

Visit Science Exchange →

Subscribe to the blog
Never miss a post! Science Exchange blog posts delivered right to your inbox.
Thank you for joining the SciEx revolution!
Powered By WPFruits.com