Despite a dip in the fortunes of the biotechnology industry, bioinformatics firm BlueGnome has achieved profit in less than three years since its formation. The firm's fortunes are in contrast to similar start up firms within this sector and is attributible to the success of its first product BlueFuse for Microarrays.
BlueGnome which started in 2001 as a commerical venture at the University of Cambridge, applies advances in statistical modelling theory to data quality problems faced by pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries.
Released in March this year, BlueFuse is used to extract data from DNA microarrays, a process that normally takes two to three hours. BlueGnome claims that the product can provide better and more reliable information in just 20 minutes.
Nick Haan, CEO for BlueGnome said: "BlueFuse can achieve results from DNA microarrays in 20 minutes as it takes into account the variables such as atmospheric conditions in the mathematical models it generates."
"The major advantages of the Bluefuse technology is its result reproductability due to its full automation."
BlueFuse uses statistical modelling techniques to eliminate 'noise' generated in microarray experiments, enabling researchers to automatically identify the presence or absence of genes and proteins with a higher level of confidence than is currently possible.
The technology uses statistical methods with BlueGnomes' own proprietary technology to automate an analysis that removes cost, error and delay of manual intervention and enable drug discovery companies to base crucial commercial decisions on a broader range of data than is currently possible.
Haan said: "The technology is suitable for any process that results in high throughput. The microarray specifically focuses on gene/protein expression as well as compound selection, adding to its adaptability."
"Within the drug discovery industry there are huge volumes of data generated, most of which is of generally poor quality. When you think of the major decisions that are based on this data, the need is there for a technology to produce high quality statistics."
In April of this year, Cambridge University's pathology Department was amongst the first to install BlueFuse for Microarrays enabling the activity of all 30,000 of the body's genes to be measured in a single experiment. Britain's largest pathology unit estimated the software would make the initial stages of their microarray analysis up to six times faster.
Despite the strong base and government programs in the UK, biotechnology entrepreneurs have experienced the shock of a worldwide recession and slowdown in biotechnology funding. Since 2001, funding has been difficult, even for well established companies within this industry.
Jeanette Walker, business development director of bio-industry group ERBI, said of BlueGnome: "You don't often hear the words biotech and profitable in the same sentence."
Commenting on the future, Nick Haan said: "The biotechnology industry has suffered from a downturn in investment. The trend we are seeing is a lean towards the informatics aspect which companies are keen to capitalise on."
"BlueFuse technology was developed in the right place at the right time. We now have orders from companies such as Unilever which will set to make this technology the industry standard."