Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News

MAY15 2018

Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News (GEN) is the world's most widely read biotech publication. It provides the R&D community with critical information on the tools, technologies, and trends that drive the biotech industry.

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8 | MAY 15, 2018 | GENengnews.com | Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News Gail Dutton If a biologist wants to check the sequence alignment of DNA, she may have to request the services of a bioinformatician, who may keep her waiting hours, even days, for a complete analysis. To avoid such delays, the biologist might consider another option: analytics technology from Dotmatics. This company provides informatics solutions that let researchers generate analyses—querying and importing data, running multiple analy- ses and visualizations, getting a complete re- sult—in timespans as short as a coffee break. It shouldn't take hours to generate data for analysis. "Time is money," acknowl- edges Stephen Gallagher, Ph.D., CEO of Dotmatics. And sensitivity to time, he sug- gests, animates Dotmatics' work: "We have algorithms that are two orders of magnitude faster than anyone else's. We can perform se- quence alignments at a rate of 1 trillion bases per second. This kind of performance is just unheard of. "Our aim is real-time analysis—coffee- break analytics." Eliminating analytical de- lays that have challenged biologists in the past accelerates therapeutic development and thus benefits drug developers and pa- tients alike. Dotmatics is aggressively committed to making complex analytics tools easy for bench scientists to use without becoming informaticians themselves. As a result, sci- entists needn't send data out to informatics specialists and wait for the results. That commitment to ease of use extends to graphics, too. "Graphics scale indepen- dently of the size of the data," Dr. Gallagher points out. "Users can load and analyze the entire human genome on a laptop, and the graphics will be smooth and seamless—even smoother than in the gaming industry." Founding In 2001, Dr. Gallagher and Alastair Hill, Dotmatics' director and chief technical offi- cer, were working together at Merck in the United Kingdom to improve access to data. "Back then, data access was a big problem," Dr. Gallagher recalls. "There were few actu- al tools to make searches and collaboration easy across projects. By 2005, we thought, 'If it works here, it can work elsewhere.'" Rather than participate in a Merck spin- off business, Dr. Gallagher and Mr. Hill left the company, acquired the rights to the technology they had been developing, and founded Dotmatics. "Our mission was, and remains, the provision of scientifically aware tools to bench chemists and biolo- gists to let them capture, query, and analyze scientific data for drug development," af- firms Dr. Gallagher. In Dotmatics' earliest days, Dr. Gallagher and Mr. Hill worked in a spare bedroom writing code. Their challenge was to make the code specific enough for a given com- pany, but flexible enough that any company could use it. The next challenge was finding a buyer. "Our aim was to develop products for small biotechs that didn't have the resources of big pharma," Dr. Gallagher says. Six months along, the Belgian biotech UCB became Dot- matics' first customer. It was soon followed by others such as the University of Dundee and BioFocus. (All of the institutions named here are still Dotmatics' customers today.) Dotmatic wasn't overly focused on gen- erating a fast return on its investment. "Our main goal was to help scientists by making good products," notes Dr. Gallagher. The first two products were Browser and Gate- way, which UCB initially licensed for hun- dreds of users. "That was quite exceptional," Dr. Gallagher says. Then, Dotmatics devel- oped an electronic notebook. Today it has a suite of 14 highly integrated tools. During those early days, "potential clients would say we had great products but wonder whether we'd be around in five years," Dr. Gallagher admits. "Eventually, that stopped, and companies began to seek us out. People believed in us, and sales grew from there." Today, the company has offices in the Unit- ed States, the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and South Korea. Bio- and Cheminformatics Support "It's rare to have a company fully support both chemists and biologists," Dr. Gallagher says. He considers that product breadth is one of Dotmatics' distinguishing features. "Some companies have a few competing products, but we provide a full platform of full-fledged products and customer support." Many of those products were developed with input from customers to ensure they meet sci- entists' real needs. "Early on, we were chemistry-led," Dr. Gallagher recalls. "Our focus was to take complicated tools for cheminformatics and make them easy to use and readily available to bench chemists. A few years ago, we saw the industry was changing to incorporate bio- logics molecular medicine." Biologists didn't have access to the type of robust, easy-to-use tools Dotmatics had developed for chemists, so the company developed them. Vortex for Bioinformatics is a prime exam- ple. Released in March, it offers analytical and visualization capabilities for sequence data and other types of data, as well as very large data- sets such as DNA, RNA, and protein or pep- tide sequences. Vortex lets researchers search, edit, and annotate sequences, and search and browse for antibody complementarity-deter- mining region (CDR) number schemes and CDR alignment. It also integrates with Vortex' cheminformatics features. Other tools in Dotmatics' platform enable sample and asset tracking, file importation into a unified database, graphical workflows, chemical registration and reagent manage- ment, chemical sourcing, communications, browsing of corporate scientific databases, biologics entity registration, protein produc- tion process management, and importation into Microsoft Office. Standalone and SaaS Deployments The software is available for local or cloud deployment. The software as a service (SaaS) implementation, which has been available Self-Serve Informatics Platform from Dotmatics Grinds through Data, Sustains Workflows Analytics Times as Brief as Coffee Breaks Corporate Profile Dotmatics provides informatics software and services. The company, which recently announced an expansion of its biologics capabilities, aims to help biologists and chemists in dispersed research environments handle complex workflows and a variety of data types. Vortex for Bioinformatics, an extended version of Vortex, Dotmatics' data visualization and analytics solution, can help scientists engaged in biologics drug discovery and other biology research areas process antibody sequences as well as genomic, proteomic, metabolomic, and peptide data.

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