March 31, 2003
The National Science Foundation has awarded $100,000 to a Louisiana-based company that has developed software that provides real-time access to changes in complex genetic data for the research and treatment of HIV.
With quick access to genetic data on both the patient and virus affecting the patient, clinicians can better evaluate how each responds to various treatments, said Susanna LeFleur, founder of Gene Johnson Inc., maker of the software. "What we're doing is creating, for clinical researchers, clinical data and genetic data in a relational system," LaFleur said.
Analysis of genetic data in HIV research that used to take two weeks can be done in 10 minutes with the software HIVbase, said Gene Johnson Chief Management Officer Luke Dunlap. Most HIV researchers use a system that generates paper printouts of genetic sequences, and one patient can easily generate enough data to fill a 4-inch-thick binder in just a few years, he said. Data in that form is hard to access and manipulate, Dunlap said. "With a system like [HIVbase], you can easily see the [genetic] mutations and responses," Dunlap said. "It's instantaneous and it's at your fingertips."
Gene Johnson Inc. plans to develop software for hepatitis C, called HCVbase. LaFleur said she expects to begin selling HIVbase to government, university and pharmaceutical research facilities in May. NSF is also considering an additional $750,000 award for HIVbase.
03.20.03; Jesse Hall (Houma Courier)