In July 2018 Innovate UK awarded InterMine at the University of Cambridge and STORM Therapeutics a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP). A KTP is a government program that helps businesses in the UK by linking them with an academic organisation — enabling them to bring in new skills and the latest academic thinking to deliver a specific, strategic innovation project.
The key objective of this particular project is to develop an analysis platform using the data warehouse InterMine to help STORM advance their cancer research.
Here we talk with Hendrik Weisser, Senior Bioinformatician at STORM, about this collaboration.
Can you tell me about this project?
Sure, my company (STORM) is partnering with InterMine in this project. We are going to develop a computational knowledge base for cancer drug discovery and RNA epigenetics, based on InterMine’s HumanMine database. We will extend InterMine by adding analysis tools, more biomedical data etc. to make it a bespoke platform to help us identify and validate drug targets.
Can you tell me more about STORM?
STORM Therapeutics is a drug discovery company focused on RNA epigenetics, developing small-molecule inhibitors of RNA-modifying enzymes for the treatment of cancer. We are a spin-out of Cambridge University, founded in 2015 by professors Eric Miska and Tony Kouzarides from the Gurdon Institute. You can find more information – and a cool animated video about RNA epigenetics – on our website, www.stormtherapeutics.com.
What do you hope to achieve?
For STORM, convenient access to available data on RNA-modifying enzymes, their roles in RNA epigenetics, and their associations to different cancers – both direct and via interaction partners – is vital for our efforts in target validation, indication prioritisation and patient stratification. A large amount of relevant data is publicly available but is scattered over many sources and not integrated, thus difficult and time-consuming to fully utilise. STORM’s vision is to develop an integrated database of relevant human biomedical data, that should enable our scientists to quickly view and interrogate the most pertinent data on target genes/proteins, but also allow us to easily perform bioinformatic analyses on these data.
What attracted you to InterMine? What makes InterMine a useful tool for drug discovery?
I found out about InterMine’s existence by chance and then quickly signed up to an InterMine training course at Cambridge University to learn more. I was impressed by the wealth of functionality offered by InterMine and by its sophisticated architecture that enables huge flexibility in dealing with different kinds of biological data. InterMine really represents the state of the art in terms of large-scale complex biomedical data integration. By focusing on extensibility and customisation and on enabling local installations, InterMine is able to serve a variety of research communities. These capabilities also make it an ideal fit for STORM’s requirements for an internal data management system that integrates diverse public data. The fact that InterMine is open-source, i.e. the code is and will stay available, is also important for us because it helps to ensure long-term maintainability.
For more information see STORM’s website.