Is A Shortage Of Bioinformaticians Holding Back Adoption Of Precision Therapies?

Published: Jul 31, 2017

Dr Misha Kapushesky, CEO of Genestack, selected for Frost & Sullivan masterclass

Many key scientists lack essential skills in bioinformatics and this is potentially a bottleneck for therapeutic research in big pharma. Dr Misha Kapushesky, CEO of Genestack, will discuss how increasing pressure on bioinformaticians is slowing the pace of discovery in a webinar ‘NGS: New Business Models in Diagnostics and Drug Development’ organised by Frost & Sullivan on 9th August.

“Managing population-scale genomics data is a major challenge,” Dr Kapushesky explains, “and there are still many challenges to be addressed around inconsistencies in the way that data is collected and stored. Data management is a priority for bioinformaticians but their time is also split by serving large teams of biologists and chemists working within focused therapeutic areas.

“Good bioinformaticians are a rare resource, so the grand ambition here is to build tools that automate the more routine analytics, enabling biologists and others to interrogate the data themselves. This would allow scientists to concentrate on discovery and free bioinformaticians to look at the big picture integration issues. This focus is vital to accelerate the adoption of multiomics data throughout the organisation – a prerequisite for precision therapeutics.”

Frost & Sullivan has just released a report* which estimates the European NGS Informatics market will be worth $508.6 million by 2021, driven by an emphasis on precision and personalised medicine.

Piyush Bansal, Life Science Senior Industry Analyst at Frost & Sullivan, sees this as a key industry growth driver. He says: “We expect to see a strong increase in the number of large scale genome sequencing projects launched by pharmaceuticals and biotech companies to support their genomics drug development programs.”

Dr Kapushesky understands well the pain-points this creates for pharma that need to quickly transition from a focus on chemistry to that of genomics.

Before establishing Genestack, Dr Kapushesky was a Team Leader in Functional Genomics at the European Bioinformatics Institute. There he led a team developing pioneering bioinformatics data systems, such as the Expression Atlas and R Cloud, designed to manage and query the data EBI was archiving.

He explains: “When talking to large pharma it soon became clear that what they really wanted was their own version of the data management and analytics infrastructure that we were developing for EBI. They wanted to be able to put in their own data and look at it in the context of public data.

“So at Genestack we have worked closely with the potential end users to develop a bioinformatics infrastructure that allows them to find, combine, analyse and visualise data.”

One of the authors of the report, Neelotpal Goswami, Transformational Health Senior Industry Analyst at Frost & Sullivan, comments that as the industry matures, “users of NGS informatics services will seek seamless end-to-end genetic solutions in an easy-to-use format.”

So is Dr Kapushesky concerned about consolidation in the industry?

“There is much vertical integration in the market, but I still think there is still potential for niche tools,” he replies. “Pharmas have all made significant investments in their data and they want to leverage more value from their legacy systems.

“Genestack is designed to be open in that it integrates with existing systems so that data is made accessible wherever it is held, which supports the analysis of population-scale studies.

“In addition, it also provides an environment that can support the scale-up of specialist analytical or visualisation tools developed by inhouse teams or third party collaborators and tailored for particular applications.

“This means that our solution works alongside those of the bigger vendors and also provides a window of opportunity for niche players.” The discussion between Misha Kapushesky, Piyush Bansal and Neelotpal Goswami will take place in the ‘NGS: New Business Models in Diagnostics and Drug Development’ webinar on 9th August 2017. For more information about how to participate please visit https://goo.gl/1DFa8n or email Mariana Fernandez, Corporate Communications: mariana.fernandez@frost.com

Back to news