Leveraging informatics to improve drug therapy

Image courtesy Flickr user Chadou Yama


Informatics is, in many regards, still an emerging technology that continues to push the envelope and challenge the ever-evolving standard of what is considered cutting-edge.

More than ever before, scientists are using informatics technology to consider larger questions that encompass bigger pictures, such as: how can informatics improve the way chemists produce pharmaceutics?

When it comes to drug therapies, scientists understand how and why side effects might potentially affect patients negatively, but there is not yet a go-to strategy for anticipating side effects that a drug will have on an individual patient.

Informatics will change that – commonalities will be found across genetic subtypes to reveal how different genetic make-ups are impacted by specific drug compounds. In the future, pharmacists will consider the patient’s genomic information when prescribing drug treatments, choosing a therapy that will incur the least damage and most benefit.

In a matter of years, this ideal scenario may be a reality. This past week, researchers at The Scripps Research Institute announced that they had developed a chemical toolkit that will revolutionize the way drug compounds are produced.

The new technology will allow chemists to create hundreds of drug compound variants with drastically increased ease and cost effectiveness. Producing so many variants through such a technological advantage will allow pharmaceutical companies to discover and produce a range of the most effective and safe drug compounds faster and more accurately than before.

Many factors need to come together in order for doctors to be able to provide personalize prescriptions based upon individual genomic identities, but the necessary agents to achieve this goal are already in motion. At PerkinElmer Informatics, we look forward to being an integral entity in moving these initiatives toward reality.

Read more about The Scripps Research Institute’s new toolkit here.

Learn how to leverage PerkinElmer Informatics products here.

New chemical research reveals how the building blocks of life originated

Image courtesy of Flickr user Aranda\Lasch

It seems inconceivable that from a jumble of chemical molecules, an ordered and complex combination of chemicals could combine and multiply to give rise to life. Scientists have struggled to understand how such a molecular structure could have been created without pre-existing parameters.

But molecular modeling by researchers at National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent) may finally have given indication of how life originated from the primordial seas that once covered ancient Earth. The NESCent team, funded by a National Science Foundation grant, has been searching for clues to understand how a molecular network capable of self-replication first arose from “chemical soup”.

Scientists have already demonstrated that these networks can be created in labs. Now, the NESCent team has worked to analyze mathematical models of network structures to understand how they could have evolved to the next step of forming nucleic acids and membranes, the “building blocks of life”.

Through mathematical modeling, the researchers have discovered that within the various network structures, there exist smaller molecular subsets that share the ability to self-replicate rapidly. These smaller subsets have been able to split and interact with subsets from other networks to create more complex networks.

From those larger networks of chemical reactions, the building blocks of life are thought to have emerged.

The findings of the NESCent team are set to be published in the journal Acta Biotheoretica.

To read more about this topic, click here.


ChemBioDraw 13: Best Internet Tutorial Videos

"ChemBioDraw 13: Step By Step" will help users take advantage of the tools and functions

available on ChemBioDraw software through how-to video demonstrations

shared through PerkinElmer Informatics social media channels.


Last week, PerkinElmer Informatics launched a social media series entitled “ChemBioDraw 13: Step By Step”, a how-to video series following the release of the latest software version of ChemBioDraw.

In the spirit of our own tutorial campaign, designed to provide users with opportunities to learn new software skills on ChemBioDraw, we’ve decided to compile a collection of the additional ChemBioDraw how-to videos currently circulating on the internet.

These videos are created by users of ChemBioDraw and can be used as helpful learning tools for students and researchers who seek to create presentation-ready, scientifically-intelligent graphics.

First, check out Part 1 of “ChemBioDraw 13: Step By Step”, released last week: Arrow Pushing Using Electron Pushing Tool

And Part 2 of “ChemBioDraw 13: Step By Step”, released yesterday through the PerkinElmer Informatics Twitter and Facebook pages: Pasting Peptides and Nucleic Acid Sequences into ChemBioDraw

Then, watch the user-created videos that we’ve selected below:

ChemDraw: Drawing Electron Lone Pairs on Lewis Structures

ChemDraw Magic – Draw Viagra in 20 Seconds: Shortcuts to Draw Molecules Faster

Drawing ‘Beautiful’ Catalytic Cycles in ChemDraw

ChemDraw: Make Cool Curved Arrows Using Arrow Tools and Edit Curve Function

Finally, make sure to follow PerkinElmer Informatics on Twitter and Facebook to receive weekly links to the latest “ChemBioDraw 13: Step By Step” videos.

If you're a ChemBioDraw user looking to upgrade to the latest version 13, mark your calendar for Cyber Monday on November 26, when www.scistore.com products will be offered at 25% discounts.

Citizen ‘crowd sourcing’ and informatics: enabling data collection and collaboration

A University of Utah researcher used crowd sourcing and social media to engage

the help of the public to collect samples of storm water after Superstorm Sandy.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Goldmund100.

As a proponent of data organization and collection, the PerkinElmer Informatics team encourages the practice of citizen science because of its ability to share and communicate diverse data. The process of crowd sourcing research has several parallels to the benefits of information sharing within an organization through our enterprise electronic lab notebooks.

Recently, a University of Utah researcher engaged citizen scientists via Twitter to ask the public in regions affected by Superstorm Sandy to collect storm water. He will now use those samples to analyze the isotopic composition of the storm water to determine how moisture traveled from different sources throughout the storm.

By crowd sourcing data collection, large numbers of people across geographic locations and organizations can contribute data for analysis. To us, that sounds like ‘citizen informatics’ – ways of collecting, analyzing, sharing and interpreting data.

We recently entered a strategic relationship with TIBCO Software Inc., the provider of the TIBCO Spotfire® software program, to provide TIBCO Spotfire software to our customers in certain markets. Combining TIBCO Spotfire software’s highly-powerful data visualization capabilities with our electronic lab notebooks means that scientists and researchers can easily share and access data anywhere, anytime - regardless of what file format that data is in and without the need for special query language.

Crowd sourcing may very well be the key to success for many research initiatives, as enterprise and cloud solutions enable lab scientists across the world to supply data for shared analysis. We plan to help facilitate collaboration by continuing to provide competitive solutions for data organization and analysis to scientists.

Read more about how the University of Utah researcher used crowd sourcing here.

Learn about data visualization and enterprise sharing here.

New stem cell array technology capable of revolutionizing drug discovery

Image courtesy Flickr user psyberartist

Still very much an emerging field of science, stem cell research has traditionally been thought of as an effective method to create replacement cells and tissues for diseased components in the human body. Yet a new purpose for stem cells has emerged that has the capability to change the process of drug discovery and clinical trials.

Propelled by her son’s struggle with Type 1 diabetes and the loss of her parents to heart disease and cancer, social entrepreneur Susan Solomon founded the New York Stem Cell Foundation (NYSCF) in 2005. Earlier this year at TEDGlobal2012, Solomon revealed new technology to enable the production of genetically diverse arrays of stem cells for the advancement of drug discovery.

The NYSCF Global Stem Cell Array uses robot technology to produce thousands of stem cell lines representing all global genetic subtypes. The technology will allow clinical researchers and pharmaceutical drug developers to test human cells for efficacy and side effects – a far more relevant approach than traditional testing on animal organisms, tissues and cells.

Solomon predicts the method will revolutionize personalized health and lead to safer, more rapid and effective drug discovery, combined with significant reductions in cost. According to Solomon, the average prescription drug spends 13 years in trial and development at a cost of $4 billion.

By enabling scientists to analyze the specific cellular changes and effects clinical research drugs have on various genetic subtypes, drugs can be prescribed on a case-by-case basis after chemical composition is determined compatible with a patient’s individual genomic factors.

To view Solomon’s TED presentation, click here.

Coming soon to a pharmacy near you: Over-the-counter genetic sequencing

Consumers may soon be able to purchase over-the-counter whole genetic sequencing (WGS) kits.

Image courtesy of Flickr user jurvetson.

Less than a decade after the human genome was first mapped in 2003, whole gene sequencing is rapidly becoming available to the public clinically and commercially.

Yet genetic sequencing is viewed controversially by many medical geneticists: where is the line drawn between knowing enough about your genetic makeup and knowing too much?

While certain actionable information such as a predisposition to cancer or heart disease may allow individuals to make healthier lifestyle choices, finding other genetic markers for non-preventable conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s may pose greater psychological risk than benefit.

For that reason, many companies that offer whole gene sequencing will only map an individual’s genome at the request of a physician. Some companies do so because they believe genetic sequencing should only be performed in dire circumstances, such as making a diagnosis or prognosis in an ailing child, while other companies believe patients would be at risk of suffering psychological harm without the guidance of a doctor to explain the results of genetic sequencing.

Then there are other companies that believe individuals have the right to access their own genetic information at free will – with or without the assistance of a doctor. Direct-to-consumer genetics tests have come under fire by some experts because the tests only analyze a small number of specific points along a person’s genome, searching for genetic markers that indicate predispositions for diseases and medical conditions.

One such company that hopes to make whole gene sequencing available to the public is 23andMe, a company in Mountain View, Calif. In the future, predicts the author of the Time article “Test Your DNA for Diseases – No Doctor Required”, obtaining a 23andME test for one’s genetic information could be as easy as purchasing an over-the-counter pregnancy test.

Read the full Time article to learn about companies already offering whole genetic sequencing and to hear additional feedback on the pros and cons and commercial genetic sequencing

The future of global health: Personalized medicine at RGHS


Kevin Hrusovsky, president of PerkinElmer Life Sciences and Technology, gives a keynote entitled "Our Crusade to Revolutionize and Personalize Global Health" at the Revolutionaries for Global Health Summit held October 24-25 in San Francisco.

Kevin Hrusovsky, president of PerkinElmer Life Sciences and Technology, gives a keynote

entitled "Our Crusade to Revolutionize and Personalize Global Health" at the Revolutionaries for Global Health Summit

held October 24-25 in San Francisco. 


The Revolutionaries for Global Health Summit, held October 24 and 25 in San Francisco, saw the gathering of medical researchers, scientific visionaries and PerkinElmer leaders. The summit was one event of a series of worldwide PerkinElmer-sponsored conferences being held to facilitate the meeting of the greatest and most innovative minds in medical research, with the aim to encourage momentum toward the goal of cancer eradication through collaborative learnings amongst scientists and scientific tool providers.

Presented by Life Sciences and Technology’s president, Kevin Hrusovsky, the summit’s keynote speech entitled “Our Crusade to Revolutionize and Personalize Global Health” asked PerkinElmer scientists, customers and colleagues in medical, pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries to champion collaboration to achieve worldwide cancer eradication and improve diagnostic and patient treatment processes through efforts to personalize global health practices.

Crucial to the practice of personalized healthcare, Hrusovsky explained, is the understanding of how environmental macrofactors and genetic microfactors interact and affect disease development and treatment. To facilitate the study of epigenetics, Hrusovsky sees informatics as a crucial bridge between researchers and scientific institutions located across developed and emerging countries, enabling the flow of information necessary to analyze and understand universal biomarkers, biological mechanisms and environmental factors that influence disease diagnosis, progression and treatment.

The future of global health lies in the application of epigenetics findings and informatics analyses to establish better research methods, prevention guidelines, diagnostic tools and processes, treatments and drug therapies targeting diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Achieving these goals will improve diagnosis accuracy and provide personalized treatment options, resulting in increased drug therapy efficacy and reduced toxicity and side effects.

The next Revolutionaries for Global Health Summit will be held November 15-16 in Tokyo. To register for the event, click here.

To watch a video recording of Hrusovsky’s keynote and to see other presentations given at the San Francisco summit, click here.

Inside Informatics: Sparking conversations to progress research

What is the goal of scientific research?

We believe it is to understand how and why things work the way that they do – and the point of figuring that out is to use that knowledge to make lives better. Whether those answers reveal a more efficient way to produce fuel cell catalysts or allow doctors to provide personalized healthcare through genomic medicine, lives are made better through scientific research and discovery.

As a provider of discovery, collaboration, and knowledge enterprise solutions, desktop software and scientific databases to pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and chemical industries, PerkinElmer Informatics strives to improve scientific research to support that end goal of making lives better.

It’s why we bring together innovative minds at our annual Revolutionaries of Global Health Summit to discuss tools, methods and discoveries crucial to eradicating cancer. This year’s summit kicked off Tuesday, October 24, in San Francisco. The keynotes that were given echoed the driving motivation in holding such summits, and were titled “Battling Cancer with All Fury” and “Our Crusade to Revolutionize and Personalize Global Health”.

And the next step in making lives better is to make sure that important conversations keep happening even after summits and conferences come to a close. It’s why we’ve created this blog: to provide an opportunity for open discourse among scientists, researchers, and scientific tool providers.

Inside Informatics will discuss news and topics relevant to scientific industries and will allow PerkinElmer Informatics’ visionary leaders and product developers to share how research breakthroughs can be achieved faster, more efficiently and more effectively through leveraging the right tools and databases.

First up, you can expect to see a post discussing the highlights of the Revolutionaries for Global Health Summit. We hope to share that information with a wider audience through our blog and ignite more conversation and collaboration among scientists.

We invite you to visit our blog to stay updated on what’s going on across scientific research industries, to learn about PerkinElmer Informatics products, and to take away ideas and inspiration to apply to your own research program – to make lives better by finding the answers you seek, no matter what questions you are asking.