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!

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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!

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.

New Feature: Facility & Project Metrics

December 4, 2013 | Posted by Brianne Villano in Lab Admin Tools, New Feature |

Scientists, among most other professions, know that reputation is the key to a sustainable career. Every time you publish your latest research, you’re putting your life’s work out in the world for public consumption. Similarly, every time you order or perform an experimental service on Science Exchange, you are putting your name out there and saying, “this work represents who I am as a scientist,” and we think you should be rewarded for that.

So, Science Exchange has implemented new facility metrics! The reviews have changed and the way we display our metrics have changed – let’s go through them.

rating-icon Reviews

Every time a project is completed, both the requester and the provider have the opportunity to rate and review each other. Our previous system was a 1-5 star scale, and our data showed that the majority of the ratings fell on one end or the other. Therefore, we upgraded to the binary review system below. The percentage of positive ratings received are shown as a part of the search results and on each individual facility page.

ratingreview.png

There are two contributions for each review:

  • The user can choose that yes, you would work with your project partner again, or no, you would not.
  • A user can also leave a comment describing their experience working with their project partner.  A requester’s comment is then viewable on their provider’s facility page, and a provider’s comment is then viewable on their requester’s profile page.

complete-icon Completed Projects

Our previous blog post on increasing provider search rank went into great detail about the importance of completing projects through Science Exchange and how they affect search rank. Each completed project on Science Exchange improves a provider’s rank, and those completed projects are now visible directly in the search results:

pcr results.png

As a requester, you know immediately whether the facility has a proven track record of successfully completing projects on the site, and as a provider, you are able to showcase that track record of success.

endorse-icon Endorsements

Endorsements are ways to give merit to a facility if you haven’t yet worked with them on Science Exchange, but have worked with them outside of Science Exchange in the past.

facility page.png

Endorsements are also an easy way to bump facility search rankings. Share a facility link with whomever you wish, and they can endorse that facility at any time by visiting the page and clicking the blue “Endorse This Facility” button in the sidebar.

Future versions will include the ability to filter search results even further based on all these criteria.

We’re really excited about continuing to improve our metrics, implementing new ways to search for the experimental services you need, filtering providers based on your individual criteria, and giving service providers the opportunity to generate even more revenue and showcase their expertise. If you have any questions or feedback, please leave a comment below and we’ll be happy to chat!

Science Exchange Provider Profile: Tamas Nagy from the Comparative Pathology Lab

July 24, 2013 | Posted by Tess Mayall in Core facilities |

TamasNagy

For this week’s provider profile we caught up with Dr. Tamas Nagy, the Director of the Comparative Pathology Laboratory. Read all about his unique path to veterinary pathology, and that one time he did histopathology on an amorphous material found on a commercial refrigeration line.

Read the rest of this entry »

ACGT – Clinical Applications for Next Generation Sequencing

June 10, 2013 | Posted by Guest in Education |

This is a guest post by David Cook, Legal Counsel at ACGT, Inc.

Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) holds the exciting promise of a real world integration of genomics into medicine.  While the use of this technology in clinical applications is at a nascent stage, DNA sequencing providers have been adapting their NGS services to meet the needs of a new clinician clientele.

ACGT, Inc., a Chicago-based sequencing provider, will also begin offering clinical NGS services with the anticipated launch of ACGT, Inc. Molecular Diagnostics in late 2013.

Read the rest of this entry »

Why Geneticists Need Designers: Making DNA Into Art

February 27, 2013 | Posted by Team in Science as Art |

Modern  interior design of living room

This is a guest post by Kishan Bhoopalam of Genetik Ink, a startup developing interactive DNA art.

We are now at a point in which advances in genetics are personally affecting consumers lives. With companies such as 23andMe and deCODEme, consumers now have the ability to see their own genetic information and make important health decisions.

This direct-to-consumer model of genetics and analysis has the potential to revolutionize society. But while this new era seems promising, there must be a cultural change in how scientists approach the development of these new technologies. Read the rest of this entry »

Crowdsourcing Human Microbiome Research

December 21, 2012 | Posted by Guest in Research |

This is a guest post from Jessica Richman, co-founder of uBiome and a PhD scholar at Oxford University

Amidst the current focus on genomic testing, there is a new field emerging with a different approach to metagenomics: direct-to-consumer sequencing of the microbiome.

The microbiome are the bacteria that live on and within us; all of us are actually covered in helpful germs (or co-evolved symbionts if you prefer). Like the rainforest, the healthy human microbiome is a balanced ecosystem. The correct balance of microbes serves to keep potential pathogens in check and regulate the immune system. Microbes also perform essential functions such as digesting food and synthesizing vitamins. Some research also suggests that microbial activity influences mammalian mood and behavior.

Read the rest of this entry »

Science Exchange provider 3Scan awarded $350K by Thiel Foundation

April 17, 2012 | Posted by Team in Science Exchange News |

At Science Exchange, we’re continually inspired by the accomplishments of our service providers as they seek to make scientific services more open and available.

As such, we’d like to congratulate one of our listed providers, 3Scan on receiving $350K in grant funding from the Thiel Foundation’s Breakout Labs.

3Scan was one of six grantees awarded for their potential to commercialize new methods in scientific research. They develop 3-D reconstructions of brain tissue, using novel Knife Edge Scanning Microscopes to produce high-resolution images within a short time-spans.  The increase in funding will help 3Scan continue their operations while maintaining full control of their IP, given the unique funding model of the Thiel Foundation.

Again, congratulations to 3Scan. We look forward to following their groundbreaking venture in the years to come.

Read the rest of this entry »

Guest post: C-CAMP – A new model for enabling science in India

March 13, 2012 | Posted by Guest in Core facilities |

This is a guest post by Taslimarif Saiyed, Ph.D., Director and COO of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Platforms (C-CAMP) (full bio below). 

India has great scientists, but has not achieved maximum output as a community in science, especially in the biological sciences.  One reason has been lack of access to cutting-edge technologies to support scientific talent. A simple example: up until at least the 1980s, common technologies such as RT-PCR and confocal microscopy only arrived in India with a 10-15 year delay. Although this deplorable situation has since improved in select research settings like the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS)the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), the National Institute of Immunology (NII), the Center for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), and the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB), to name only a few, many excellent scientists who are not fortunate enough to be at premier institutions have remained disadvantaged.

To address this problem, India’s Department of Biotechnology (a federal funding agency) established the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Platforms (C-CAMP) as part of the Bangalore Bio-cluster. Our mandate is to establish cutting edge technology platforms and use them to provide services and training for researchers nationwide. In less than two years, we have been able to establish technology platforms including high-throughput screening, mass spectrometry, next generation genomics, confocal imaging, flow cytometry, a protein technology core and a transgenic fly facility.

Read the rest of this entry »

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