Since its inception in 2012, the main activity of DNAlytics has been to support clinical research by providing data mining consultancy in order to develop and/or validate diagnostic, prognostic or theranostic models, along with the identification of biomarkers enabling those predictions.
One of the most atypical features of DNAlytics is that the company is exclusively active in the design of personalized and predictive medicine solutions, while most of its collaborators are data miners (applied mathematicians and computer scientists), not biologists, MDs, or pharmacists. This trait confers to DNAlytics out-of-the-box flavor and complementarity with the expertise present within the teams of its customers and partners: biotech, pharma, and IVD companies.
The company is not a biostatistics company: “Statistics are mostly descriptive of data already observed. DNAlytics’ focus is on the predictive side: what can be said about future patients?” explains Pierre Gramme, DNAlytics’ Principal Analyst. “We design mathematical models for new diagnostic, prognostic and theranostic applications and, at the same time, we dig into large numbers of candidate markers to find relatively small signatures on which those models will rely and generalize well on new, yet unseen patients.” Development of these models is done through automated computer-intensive algorithmic approaches.
The approach pursued by DNAlytics does not impose any restriction on the type of data considered: genetic, epigenetic, genomic, clinical, biological, imaging: “Most of the time, we even mix several data types within a single solution,” continues Pierre Gramme, “which has been proven much more powerful in several occasions than considering data types in silos.” DNAlytics technology applies to a broad range of pathologies, with current applications in oncology, rheumatology, immunology, and chronic pain, and it offers biopharmaceutical partners the reduction of development risk and duration, increased ROI, and the opening of new avenues of development.
After two years of positive financial results and an accumulation of industrial expertise, DNAlytics management proposed to open another branch of activity: “Every personalized medicine application that uses more than one marker and that will make it to the market will require an intermediate applicative layer between the simple biological measurements and the recommendation to the clinician, the patient or the clinical trial manager,” says Dr Thibault Helleputte, DNAlytics’ CEO and co-founder. DNAlytics has thus developed an online platform able to manage a multi-marker IVD application from A to Z, soon compliant with the applicable legislation at the European level. “With such a tool, we intend not only to propose our own innovative personalized medicine solutions, but also to host third party solutions, just like Amazon sells products for many different vendors along its own products.”
To illustrate this concept, DNAlytics is working on RheumaKit, the first instance of product hosted on this platform. RheumaKit is an early differential diagnostic solution for patients with undifferentiated arthritis (UA). The rheumatologist or orthopaedic surgeon registers online at www.rheumakit.com, orders sample collection and transportation kits, and fills them with synovial biopsies from the patient. An express courier carries the kit to a central lab facility where the expressions of a patented marker list are extracted. The lab uploads the data on www.rheumakit.com. The clinician is notified, enters additional clinical info on the patient, and launches the computation of a diagnostic on the cloud. The results are provided within a few seconds, in terms of probabilities on whether the pathology “hiding” behind UA is rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, or a seronegative spondylarthritis. The benefit for the patient is the increased opportunity to receive adequate therapy years before what could normally be achieved via traditional means.
RheumaKit is not only remarkable because of its usefulness and technological refinement, but also because it illustrates all the steps that DNAlytics can support. “DNAlytics is the sole company covering the whole development path of data-driven personalized medicine solutions from early R&D design to market access, and this expertise is available to all our customers and partners,” concludes Dr Helleputte.
DNAlytics is a spin-off from the Université catholique de Louvain in Belgium. Other health-related and well-known spin-offs that have emerged from this University include: IBA (proton therapy leader), Promethera (cell therapy), and Telemis (medical images numerization)