When it comes to the cutting-edge of diagnosis and treatment for the world’s most deadly diseases, MolecularHealth‘s vision for next-generation bioinformatics analysis is just about as forward-thinking as you’ll find in the world today.
The company, which initially operated in Europe, with its R&D team in Heidelberg, Germany and corporate offices in Basel, Switzerland, has a truly panoramic worldview of where medicine will have advanced to in a generation, and how MolecularHealth’s analysis and treatment solutions will be positioned at the forefront of how cancer and other diseases are diagnosed, treated, and cured.
What’s particularly exciting is that the company has chosen The Woodlands, Texas as the headquarters for their U.S. division, which will also serve as the worldwide sales and commercialization arm of the business’ service offerings.
MolecularHealth CEO Dr. Lloyd Everson spoke with BioNews Texas in an exclusive interview, explaining why an international biotech firm like MolecularHealth chose Texas as its preferred location for establishing its business in the U.S. Not surprisingly, Dr. Everson explained that the pro-business climate of the state, led by the Governor Perry’s current administration and a supportive legislature, played a major role in the company’s decision in choosing Texas. The Woodlands was a particularly attractive city for the new office, due to its close proximity to Houston, access to top biotech talent, a booming biotech sector, and a well-established low cost of living balanced with a high quality of life.
Dr. Everson also noted that while other well-established biotech hubs, such as the Silicon Valley and Boston, offer equally enriching biotech spheres to do business in and high standards of living, Texas — and particularly The Woodlands — offer the same benefits, plus a decidedly pro-business environment.
The “Panome,” And Moving Towards A New Level of Abstraction In Bioinformatics
Speaking with Dr. Everson brought to light a new lexicon and perspective on how disease is perceived, researched, and treated. “We’re really only at the vanguard of understanding disease,” Dr. Everson explained. “The first disease state is cancer. Cancer doesn’t begin in a particular organ, however, but rather in the panomic fingerprint, which is unique.”
Dr. Everson went on to explain that the DNA “fingerprint” of cancers is different for each type, and for each patient as well. With this idea in mind, “as treatments become more targeted, we have to characterize cancer on a molecular basis to match a therapy.” This is precisely what Dr. Everson means when he talks about a “panomic.” While the forefront of diagnostics and treatment are looking increasing at genomics, MolecularHealth’s vision for the future of medicine takes into account the immense complexity of the “panome” — the entire composition of the cell:
“When you look at the cell, it’s a very complex environment,” explains Dr. Everson. “If you think about the construction of a house, and all of the components and work processes that go into building it, from its base, structure, wiring, and plumbing, as well as its styling and finishing touches — it’s an extremely complex and sophisticated construct. The composition of a cell, in contrast, while infinitely smaller, is ten million times more complex. Because of the complexities of the cell’s composition — DNA, RNA metabolic pathways — next-generation medicine will need to process and understand the panome. the entirety of these cellular elements, how they combine to create robust, virulent diseases, and how they can be targeted and treated with precision.”
Dr. Everson believes that this approach, which is still evolving toward mainstream adoption in research and medicine, is precisely what MolecularHealth is on the forefront of achieving.
MolecularHealth Moves to Take Hold of the “Panomic Space” in Biotech
It takes more than a vision of the future to position a biotech company at the forefront of next-generation diagnostic and treatment technology. Dr. Everson and the rest of the team at MolecularHeath have already developed a solution that offers a vertically integrated client base — from the researcher all the way up to the patients themselves — an “end to end” service offering that dramatically facilitates and targets analysis and treatment options for cancer.
While genetic testing on tumors is quickly becoming more affordable and accessible to the mainstream, MolecularHealth is moving to bring together advanced technological computing and a comprehensive set of hands-on services that deliver key bioinformatics and results in the shortest amount of time possible. “A wide range of genetic tests can now be performed on tumors,” says Dr. Everson. “But genetic tests are not ‘one size fits all.’ Does the patient need a whole exome test, or simply a specific gene panel? Now, there’s value in getting targeted, appropriate tests performed at the outset of the analysis and treatment process.”
MolecularHealth will provide this targeted approach by completely micromanaging the entire process. For a patient, this means the set-up, including slides, tissue samples, and analysis/sequencing for gene variance, as well as working with healthcare providers and insurers to seek out reimbursement for these services.
Once the data for a patient is collected, it is then processed through MolecularHealth’s robust SAP-powered technology, leveraging the SAP HANA platform, thanks to the involvement of Dietmar Hopp, the co-founder and former Chairman and CEO of SAP. This analytics platform processes and conflates patient data with the tremendous amount of raw data that already exists on previous genomic and DNA research on diseases like cancer. By processing all of this data together, MolecularHealth can “translate terabytes of clinical, molecular and drug data in real-time and deliver actionable information in as little as 12 hours,” according to their website. “No other option provides the speed, genetic precision and patient personalization of MolecularHealth, thanks to SAP and its continued partnership and shared commitment to human health.”
The opening of the office in the Woodlands appears to be closely associated with MolecularHealth’s aggressive move to begin rolling out their services, with a plan to have their new Texas office up and running between mid-November and early December, and commercialization to begin in Q1 of 2014. with a vertically integrated customer base model, the company will market their services to patients with cancer, molecular pathologist, treatment providers, and biopharma industry.
Because of the comprehensive approach that MolecularHealth is taking, they also envision a rapid expansion of new jobs into the Texas biotech sector, with Dr. Everson anticipates that over the next couple of years, MolecularHealth’s Woodlands office could reach 100 employees. The company will look to rapidly expand the executive team, as well, in addition to the 40 biotech professionals in Germany, who are the backbone of the company’s R&D efforts.
With bioinformatics fast becoming the next generation of disease analysis and treatment, there’s no doubt that MolecularHealth’s presence in Texas will help vault the biotech sector to yet a higher level of respect and significance on the world stage.