The UK-based software firm has developed a portal that enables drug researchers to access and assess genomic information drawn from public repositories like Array Express, Gene Expression Omnibus, EGA, dbGaP and lesser known sources such as GigaDB.
The idea is that gathering the data and providing the infrastructure for efficient access will accelerate genomic research during early phase drug development as Repositve CEO Fiona Neilsen explained.
“High quality preclinical research depends both on having the right data available as well as having sufficient amount of data available. Our platform gives our users visibility of data sources worldwide and the opportunity to pick and choose the right data to acquire and use for their research.
She added that: “Larger sample sizes for analysis allow for higher accuracy of prediction, fewer false positives, more reliable results, and better targeting for stratified medicine. The earlier in the drug discovery pipeline false positives can be filtered out, the more resources are saved in downstream clinical research and clinical trials.”
At present drug researchers can access the basic version of the software for free. However, earlier this week Repositive secured £500,000 it will use to develop a paid version of the system with additional features tailored to commercial firms Nielsen said
She told us: “Our premium services are all about simplifying the data access workflow, both for the organisations that have a high demand for finding and accessing data, such as pharma, biotech and CROs, as well as for the data providing organisations that can reduce their governance overheads by using the Repositive platform.”
New features will include data management tools and systems that enable more efficient data sharing within collaborating groups and organisations Neilsen said, adding that the platform is being developed with a range of different types of users in mind.
“We are currently working closely with a genetic diagnostic company and an oncology research unit of a big pharma company. Our user base is as diverse as the location of our data sources, we have users from all over the world, including Europe, US, Saudi Arabia, India and China.”
Drug industry interest in rare diseases has increased markedly in recent years.
The perceived wisdom is that the combined impact of tax credits on trial expenses, orphan drugs' seven year exclusivity periods and waived user fees make developing products for smaller populations more attractive.
The industry has also realised that it can attach high price tags to such products safe in the knowledge that patients and payers will be forced to foot the bill as alternative treatments are not available.
But while the favourable economics have made orphan drugs and rare disease treatments more attractive – Pfizer, GSK and Novartis have all established dedicated research teams – the rarity of the conditions makes development a challenge.
This is where Repositive’s technology could help according to Neilsen, who said: “The rare disease communities across the world benefit greatly when finding each other and collaborate on their data sources.
“In situations where only little data is available for the disease in question, it becomes even more important to gain access to reference data for comparison to increase the significance of results.”