Dr Debbie Keenan, Head of Applications and Customer Support, at Genestack discusses their partnership with the Milner Therapeutics Consortium in Cambridge to support organisations to effectively manage, analyse and visualise their multi-omic data and support their drug discovery efforts.

In 2017, we joined a 66 affiliate strong consortium in Cambridge with one clear goal: to improve research through collaboration between academia and industry. Started by Jonathan Milner and Professor Tony Kouzarides in 2015, the Milner Therapeutics Consortium based at the University of Cambridge sought to bring institutes, venture partners and companies together to advance drug discovery through academia-industry collaboration.

With names such as Amgen, AstraZeneca, GSK, Pfizer and Johnson & Jonson part of the group, it might be surprising to see us, a bioinformatics SaaS company, in there. The reason for this partnership is simple: Genestack enables organisations to effectively manage, analyse and visualise their multi-omic data to support their drug discovery efforts. Data production is cheap and processing power readily available; the real challenge is in developing tools to better understand datasets and aid collaboration.

To increase the rate of drug discovery, many pharma companies are turning to external partnerships, including academic institutions, to identify innovative approaches to convert groundbreaking science into therapies. However, large scale collaborations can often come across challenges, such as a lack of transparency and funding.

Pharmaceutical companies may be less willing to share their data and previous findings than their academic partners, so at Genestack we enable users to control data access within and across organizational boundaries. This mitigates many risks which could lead to confidentiality breaches.

There is also the lack of adequate funding in academia, which translates to constraints in bringing cutting-edge technology to the table, making academic institutes less desirable partners. Genestack can support academia-industry collaborations to win grants to deliver solutions to the scientific community.

It is something we talk about frequently, but Genestack’s belief is that collaboration is key to accelerating drug discovery. By being in Cambridge and participating within the Milner Therapeutics Institute we have access to a vibrant ecosystem of people all pushing the edge of what is possible. Cambridge is not just a university town. With have the Cambridge Science Park, the Babraham Institute, the Wellcome Trust in Hinxton and Addenbrooke’s Hospital, it’s a fantastic place to be. Through these connections we have collaborators here, we have local events and conferences here, and we have customers here. It’s no wonder Cambridge is being labelled as the Silicon Fen.

Helping other organisations within this ecosystem understand what data they have, and how to manage and visualise this information is of paramount importance. In addition, we help organisations to improve data quality and increase knowledge absorption by allowing them to securely share data with external collaborators, improve data visualisation and share reports and learnings. All of this enables Genestack to deliver its mission: to help scientists working with biological data make decisions.

What better place to kick this off than Cambridge.

Genestack helps scientists to make decisions by bringing together omics and clinical data efficiently to accelerate drug discovery. For more information on Genestack visit https://genestack.com

Find out about the Genomics Revolution happening in the UK’s Golden Triangle at genomicsuk.com