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Davis company reaches to Midwest for answers to better cancer care

Nationwide Children’s Biopathology Center leaders examine tumor samples using the group’s digital pathology tool. Courtesy photo

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From page A18 | November 04, 2012 | Leave Comment

Despite being separated by more than 2,000 miles, dedication to improving the treatment of those who have life-threatening diseases has bound two medical entities together into one cohesive effort.

Ken Murray, founder and CEO of Davis-based Transformatix Technologies Inc., said his company is now connected with the well-respected Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

Being plugged into one of the largest pediatric hospitals and research institutes in the United States, he said, already has enhanced the local company’s understanding of a disease that accounts for one in four deaths for Americans, according to the National Center of Health Statistics.

“We’ve learned a plethora of information about the challenges faced by people who have cancer,” Murray said. “Part of our main focus is expediting the treatment of cancer.”

The two companies have formed a new biomedical informatics company called BioLinQ. This will provide a boost to the informatics industry, which builds mathematical-and computer-databases that benefit the analysis of diseases.

Transformatix’s objective in the partnership with the Ohio-based cancer institute is to commercialize tools that can be used not just for research, but for the improvement of how diseases are handled.

“We want to bring these tools from the laboratory to the bedside,” Murray said. “The goal is to allow analysis to occur much more quickly; for example, a lot of lab work can take weeks — not good for patients who may be severely ill.

“We want the assessment and treatment of the disease to be fast enough that it helps save lives.”

To accomplish this, the BioLinQ joint-development team design advanced software solutions that are intended to expedite diagnosis and research.

BioLinQ’s headquarters will be in Dublin, Ohio, at the Dublin Entrepreneurial Center. It is set to officially open for business sometime in January.

Until then, the partners remain busy marketing their software solutions and incorporating the tools onto a cloud-application management infrastructure through a large network.

Dave Billiter, director of informatics at Nationwide Children’s Hopital, said the need for these solutions generated from a significant amount of data and technological advancements in life sciences.

“Right now, finding solutions that can integrate all those data sources and providing the tooling to analyze all that data put together is a big field to advance,” Billiter said.

Three web-based tools have been developed at BioLinQ that will provide a set of solutions in digital pathology, biospecimen analysis and biorepository management. This software is planned for use in hospitals, medical research centers and the pharmaceutical industry.

Billiter explained how these solutions will be a breakthrough in disease treatment for individuals:

“If you look at both personalized medicine and the predictive medicine — there is a significant amount of data sources that go into making those a reality. With these solutions … researchers can pull all that data together to actually move forward with drug discovery and move the drug to market more timely.”

And it’s the prevalence of cancer cases nationwide that has acted as personal motivation for Murray to find solutions, who also credits Billiter and John Barnard of the pediatrics research team for their efforts to combine forces.

“We shouldn’t have to worry about cancer acting as a looming specter that everyone has to be fearful of their entire life,” Murray said. “Quite frankly, as I’m getting older, I’m seeing more friends getting cancer and dying.

“The good news is we’re living longer, and the bad news is that we’re more likely to cancer the longer we live. The best thing to do is develop methods so that we can live longer and retain a quality of life, and not be intimated by cancer.”

— Reach Brett Johnson at bjohnson@davisenterprise.net or 530-747-8052.

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