A Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) has set DNASTAR on the next stage of expanding its sequence assembly and analysis software from general research usage to the clinical-research market.

A lifescience software company based in Madison, Wisconsin, DNASTAR started off developing and marketing desk-top software for DNA and protein sequence assembly and analysis.

It has since broadened its offering to include next-generation sequencing applications such as RNA-Seq and ChIP-Seq, as well as microarray gene-expression software.

Phase II

The Phase II SBIR grant award from the NIH is for a project called ‘Association Analysis Software for Mining Clinical Next-Gen Sequencing Data’.

This is the second phase of a programme initially funded in 2012, DNASTAR explained.  It involves research and development aimed at adapting the company’s sequence assembly and analysis software for the clinical-research market.

The value of the grant was not disclosed, although SBIR Phase II awards from the NIH normally do not cover more than total costs of US$1,000,000 over a two-year period.  

Genomic analyses

Tom Schwei, vice president and general manager of DNASTAR, pointed to the growing trend “to consider analysing genomic information as part of clinical studies, whether retrospectively or prospectively”.

Increasingly, clinical researchers are recognising that including a genomic component in their trials “can uncover key information that is critical in moving a study forward”, Schwei added.

As part of the grant research programme, DNASTAR will be collaborating with clinicians on a number of cancer studies to ensure that its software fully meets their needs.