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On the cutting edge
This month, we take a look at remote access for life-sciences and diagnostic products, a commitment to sequencing technology to help push genomics forward in Scotland, a lung cancer monitoring collaboration and a cloud-based system for patient-centered translational research.
RealVNC licenses remote access technology to Beckman Coulter
BREA, Calif.—This winter saw Beckman Coulter, a world leader in the in-vitro diagnostics industry, and Cambridge, U.K.-based RealVNC, a global provider of VNC remote access technology, announce that Beckman Coulter will be licensing RealVNC’s technology for its support systems. VNC enables a computer user to remotely access another computer or device in a secure and reliable manner, and Beckman Coulter will be deploying RealVNC’s top-end solution, VNC, with an enterprise license to its life-sciences and diagnostics products to enable it to efficiently support these systems.
In addition, Beckman Coulter will also use RealVNC’s VNC Viewer SDK to create its own viewer for iOS, which will enable its technical support representatives to take control of their systems remotely from an iPad or iPhone, enabling reps the flexibility to use the technology in the field and onsite.
“RealVNC’s technology and expertise will allow us to enhance our products and the way we serve our laboratory customers,” said John Hetzler, software engineering senior manager for workflow and IT solutions at Beckman Coulter Diagnostics. “The collaboration with RealVNC will enable us to develop customized technology that will enhance our IT solutions.”
“This is yet another great example of a large organization leveraging the power of VNC as part of a range of commercially available devices worldwide,” said Richard Pickul, strategic alliances manager for RealVNC. “We are delighted to be working with Beckman Coulter to deliver remote access capabilities to their life-sciences and diagnostics products and continue to look forward to expanding the relationship in the future.”
Illumina seeks to help put Scotland at forefront of gene-led healthcare
EDINBURGH & GLASGOW, Scotland—San Diego-based sequencing and genomics company Illumina Inc. is partnering with the University of Edinburgh and University of Glasgow in a £15-million (about $23 million) project with a goal to “secure Scotland’s place as a world leader in a genomics revolution that is set to transform healthcare.”
The initiative reportedly will enable scientists and clinicians to access equipment that can decode the entire genetic makeup of a person for less than £750 and study the genomes of both healthy and sick people on a large scale and faster than they have before. The investment will establish the Scottish Genomes Partnership, which will install 15 state-of-the-art Illumina HiSeq X sequencing instruments divided between two hubs within the universities.
Linking genetic data with clinical information will enable more precise, molecular diagnoses for patients in the Scottish NHS, leading to more personalized treatment and safer selection of drug therapies, the partners say, and will bring new understanding of the causes of both rare and common diseases, opening the door to the development of new treatments. The partnership will initially focus on very rapid screening of cancer patients, diagnosing childhood illnesses, disorders of the central nervous system and population studies.
Prof. Jonathan Seckl, vice principal of research at the University of Edinburgh, said, “Scotland is uniquely placed to make a significant contribution to the field of genomics medicine. It has well-established and approved methods of linking electronic health records to medical research programs, governed by NHS and academic regulations. Edinburgh is also home to the U.K.’s national supercomputer facility, which will provide the high-performance data processing ability needed to analyze the vast volume of information that will be generated from this research. This affords an exceptional opportunity for Scotland’s outstanding researchers and clinicians to transform the way medicine is practiced in the coming years.”
“Scotland has an ideal ecosystem to lead the world in precision medicine,” added Prof. Anna Dominiczak, vice principal and head of the College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences at the University of Glasgow. “With a population of 5.3 million, cohesive and collaborative NHS, academia and industry, we have developed unique capability to screen DNA from patients with cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory and infectious diseases.”
“By unlocking the power of the genome, we can better understand cancer and rare diseases and ultimately transform how they are diagnosed and treated,” said Jay Flatley, CEO of Illumina.
Monitoring EGFR mutational status in lung cancer patients
SAN DIEGO—Trovagene Inc. announced recently that it has entered into a clinical collaboration with California-based City of Hope to conduct studies to determine the clinical utility of detecting and monitoring EGFR mutations in lung cancer patients using Trovagene’s Precision Cancer Monitoring platform.
“Tracking various alterations in the EGFR oncogene, particularly emergence of the T790M mutation, has potential to improve therapeutic strategies for treating patients with non-small cell lung cancer,” said Dr. Mihaela Cristea, lead investigator and associate professor for the City of Hope Lung Cancer and Thoracic Oncology Program. “We look forward to evaluating Trovagene’s molecular diagnostics for the monitoring of circulating tumor DNA found in both urine and blood, with the goal of delivering highly personalized cancer treatment to improve patient outcomes.”
The clinical study is expected to enroll 75 patients with lung cancer. Primary objectives of the study include evaluating concordance between urinary circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA), blood ctDNA and tumor tissue for determining EGFR mutational status. Additionally, the study investigators will evaluate the quantitative and qualitative performance of longitudinal EGFR mutation monitoring using both urine and blood specimens, as they relate to response to therapy over time. Exploratory objectives include evaluating the feasibility of identifying the TKI-resistant mutation, T790M, in urinary and blood ctDNA at the time of progression.
“Enabling physicians to detect the emergence of problematic mutations in real-time is a key benefit of our Precision Cancer Monitoring platform, and one such mutation is EGFR T790M, which drives treatment resistance in non-small cell lung cancer patients,” said Dr. Mark Erlander, chief scientific officer of Trovagene. “This is an important part of our strategy to realize the full potential of our platform, as we partner with major cancer treatment centers in the U.S. to obtain clinical utility data and to integrate our technology into clinical practice.”
Appistry launches cloud-based system for patient-centered translational research
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.—Appistry Inc., a provider of tools, software and services that enable healthcare institutions to practice genomically enhanced medicine, launched in late January a cloud-based system for conducting patient-centered translational research. Appistry CloudDx Translational is said to meet a critical need in clinical research centers: centralizing and coordinating data, processes and communication in order to leverage institutional expertise and deliver high-quality results to patients and the research community.
CloudDx Translational enables clinical research centers engaged in the study of human disease to build a personalized medicine framework for organizing research activities. All project information is tied to individual patients—including clinical observations, research activities, reporting of results and deposition of appropriate findings into the public domain. CloudDx Translational integrates the various tasks needed to perform translational research, provides expert systems to facilitate the work of project team members and ensures that valuable data and insights are searchable and shareable to inform hypothesis generation and decision-making, while holding patient identifiable information secure in accordance with ethical practices of human-subject research.
“CloudDx solutions have at their core a keen understanding of the complex workflows that must be managed and facilitated to put patients at the center of care, whether it be a research project or a genomic test,” said Kevin Haar, CEO of Appistry. “CloudDx Translational and CloudDx Clinical are very different products, because they are designed to meet the needs of different users. Yet they share a connection to using the cloud to minimize overhead and help institutions gain the capabilities they need to deliver value-added services based on genomics—what we call genomically enhanced medicine.”