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POST Luxembourg takes a share in an LCSB spin-off

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Published on Thursday, 22 October 2015

POST Luxembourg has taken a share in a company recently founded by scientists of the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB) of the University of Luxembourg.

The new enterprise, Information Technology for Translational Medicine (ITTM S.A.), specialises in the preparation and analysis of data from clinical trials. Through its subsidiary POST Capital, POST Luxembourg has acquired about 35% of the shares in ITTM. ITTM Managing Director Dr Andreas Kremer and POST Luxembourg Deputy Managing Director Joseph Glod have recently signed the contracts to this effect.

“We are pleased to have POST, as one of the most important technological groups of Luxembourg, become involved in ITTM,” says Dr Reinhard Schneider, head of the Bioinformatics Core Facility at the LCSB, leading founder of ITTM and chairman of the ITTM Supervisory Board. “It means we can ensure that ITTM will always be using the latest hardware and security technologies when transferring and storing biomedical data.”

Handling large sets of scientific data

ITTM is founded on the many years of experience of Reinhard Schneider and his team in handling large sets of scientific data. Their experience encompasses planning biological experiments to ensure they yield analysable data, preparing and standardising storage of this information in databases, and developing new bioinformatics tools for their analysis.

“Our expertise in this field is not only sought by scientists in academic establishments such as the LCSB,” says Schneider. “Researching pharmaceutical companies, too, have gigantic volumes of data in their laboratories, holding many more scientific insights in store. If analysed using the latest bioinformatics approaches, they could lead to new diagnostic or therapeutic approaches, even if they appear to be already exhausted.”

Bioinformatics for efficient analysis

The European Union also recognised such a potential and initiated a research project a number of years ago, in which the LCSB is significantly involved: in a consortium named eTRIKS (European Translational Information and Knowledge Management System), academic establishments and pharmaceutical companies have developed common standards, methods and technologies by which to reanalyse data of many different origins from new angles.

The devil is in the details, as Schneider explains: “We were responsible for preparing the data here—data curation, as we say. You can imagine it as if a dump truck had dumped tons of data in the yard. And then, you have to organise, standardise, properly label and then store these data in databases.” Not an especially appealing task, one might imagine. “But very rewarding,” Schneider continues: “Through this process, we have learned a lot about how to apply standardised criteria and procedures for clinical trials, and what bioinformatics should look like for efficient analysis.”

Guaranteeing information security

“This know-how is the basis of ITTM’s business,” says ITTM Managing Director Andreas Kremer, who now intends to lead the company to economic success. “We have many interested parties from the pharmaceutical industry who want us to re-prepare and analyse their data. We have already concluded the first contracts and even successfully completed a number of orders.”

A particular concern of pharmaceutical companies is that their information be absolutely secure against the eyes of third parties – and to be available still in many years’ time. This is where POST Luxembourg comes in, which operates data centres in Luxembourg according to the strictest quality standards. “Here, we will always find the latest hardware for our clients’ data and a security architecture that is internationally unrivalled,” Kremer says.

Joseph Glod is delighted at this praise. He sees a strategic opportunity for POST in biomedical research: “Because these data place the highest demands on IT, we have to be at the peak of technology at all times. The rapid development of biomedicine is a driver that helps us develop the standards and to remain a global leader in the implementation. ITTM offers us long-term development opportunities – which is why we have gladly become involved in this very promising start-up.”

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Read on about other start-ups of the University of Luxembourg:

Communication from the University of Luxembourg and POST Luxembourg