With biotechnology’s ever-accelerating pace, comes the ever-increasing data overload that most of us have been both hoping for and dreading. The more the better, one would think, but information can become unmanageable impressively fast, enough for key data to pass us by far too often.
Cue Mimetics. This North Carolina-based company has built a platform capable of finding hidden patterns in highly complex time series biological data.The platform has already been put to use successfully to identify new components in the circadian rhythm in mice, novel cell cycle regulators in yeast and even periodic phenomena in Plasmodia, the organism responsible for malaria.
The company currently promises increased reproducibility, efficiency and predictability in three areas: Fermentation for food and beverage production, AgBio and Human Health and Pharmaceuticals. Through Mimetics’ platform, individual yeasts during the fermentation process are not black boxes anymore – they can now be “opened” in the middle of the process. For AgBio, the platform analyzes how an initial given genome’s patterns are expressed and the dynamics of the regulatory networks that govern the expression, so that they can even identify underlying causes for different responses from genetically ‘identical’ organisms. In the case of pharmaceuticals, Mimetics’ platform can give researchers looking for new targets a more comprehensive picture of the networks connected to their target of interest, to refine and improve the drug discovery process.
Mimetics’ network analysis software is a modular collection of mathematical tools for inferring network topology and dynamics (nodes, edges, parameters) from time-series data and biological priors. Source: Probing the Dynamics of Biological Networks for AgBio http://www.mimeticsbiosci.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Mimetics_AgBio.pdf
So how is all of this accomplished? You guessed it: by analyzing outrageously enormous loads of data.
Big data analytics for biology isn’t exactly new, but Mimetics’ approach to bio-computation and data handling is radically different – they themselves compare this difference to how “a movie differs from a snapshot or a series of photographs”. http://www.mimeticsbiosci.com/our-technology/
Current approaches generally rest in the “omics” side of things, based on powerful techniques to separately understand either a full suite of genes and their evolution, molecular interactions in cells, etc. Mimetics, on the other hand, goes further: the platform develops causality models, searching to shed light on the way molecules interact and regulate the way in which genes are expressed and function.
The value behind this new approach is already being recognized: The company was recently awarded a Phase I SBIR grant from the National Science Foundation under their Computational Biology and Bioinformatics funding program. Mimetics also has an ongoing collaboration with the National Center for Advancing Translational Science, focusing on the creation of new antibiotic screening protocols.