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Biorepositories

This article was originally published in Start Up

Executive Summary

Despite the in silico research ideals of many genomicists, no one has yet found a way around the basic requirement for using human tissue in gene expression studies-a broad array of it, well characterized, from healthy and diseased patients, and from world populations at large. That's why start-ups, drug discovery firms and others are creating a new resource: biorepositories--banks of tissue samples and data to serve the diagnostic, pharmaceutical and tissue engineering industries. As providers of services and products to research-based companies, these companies believe they are operating in a market that ranges from $500 million to $5 billion.

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TissueInformatics Inc.

In 1997, reconstructive surgeon Peter Johnson, MD, the founder and president of the Pittsburgh Tissue Engineering Initiative, saw an opportunity in TissueInformatics Inc. to support the tissue engineering industry with informatics tools that enabled the analysis and digital cataloguing of tissue images and data. But it appears that the usefulness of TissueInformatics' platform extends beyond tissue engineering--the company has come along at just the right time to also serve a growing need for digital tissue analysis tools by biorepositories as well as by pharmaceutical companies using tissue samples to validate genomics discovery efforts.

BioSample Inc.

In the course of validating disease targets or developing drugs, researchers need tissue samples from patients with specific types of diseases as well as from healthy patients.BioSample Inc., has an internet-enabled biological material procurement solution to the pharmaceutical/biotech community.

Asterand Inc.

The executives that head up Asterand Inc. have unconventional CVs for a start-up in the field of genomics. Founder and CEO Randal Charlton was formerly a consultant with the World Bank and various international aid agencies, and president and COO Simon Greenman was the founding VP of operations at MapQuest.com, the oft-consulted Internet source for driving directions. But Charlton's experience in negotiating contracts with the governments of third world countries and Greenman's facility with search engines are exactly the right sort of backgrounds for a company whose mission is creating a global biorepository of human tissue samples to serve pharmaceutical researchers.

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