New proteomics tool revolutionizes disease diagnosis

Study of the body’s proteins – dubbed proteomics – often helps researchers determine the root cause of a disease, and consequently, its cure.

However, such studies can be time consuming and pricey, requiring laborious manual data analysis. Toronto-based Protana Inc. has found the antidote. Protana is a successor to the business of MDS Proteomics Inc. – regarded in biotech’s halcyon days as an industry heavyweight.

The company has deployed a tool that automates and dramatically speeds up protein data analysis.

This data management, integration and analysis tool was jointly developed by IBM in Armonk, N.Y. and TurboWorx in Shelton, Conn.

The new tool, Protana scientists say, has slashed data processing times. Analysis of proteins and their peptides that previously took several weeks can now be completed in minutes, they say.

For Protana, this is a triumph for proteomics, disease diagnosis, and drug discovery.

“Identifying proteins and studying their interaction, helps scientists learn a great deal about how new drugs interact with one other and with humans,” said Sal Causi, business development executive, life sciences, IBM Canada.

He said with technology advances, scientists are generating colossal amounts of data at a much faster pace, and in more places around the world. This makes it challenging to find information relevant only to specific types of research.

Formerly this data glut was an issue at Protana as well.

At the company, the volume of data scientists had to capture, analyze and manage was expanding exponentially. As information crucial to drug optimization resided in multiple applications, across different computing environments, data interpretation was very difficult.

Protana says the joint IBM-TurboWorkx tool has resolved this problem.

It has improved Protana’s analytical data processing by nearly 100 percent, said Shane Climie, senior vice-president, Science Strategy and Business Development at Protana.

And according to Pearson, this is not just a data management success story, but a triumph for knowledge management as well. “Scientists [are able to] spend more time on science and less time on data manipulation. At the end of the day it’s the science that really counts.”

The rolllout has also increased capital efficiencies, as Protana now spends money on talented scientists instead of data manipulation grunt work, he said.

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