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Life sciences: the quest for innovation through collaboration

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Ayasdi can combine unstructured and structured data, including continuous and categorized data. "Ayasdi is especially helpful when researchers do not know what questions to ask," says Pek Lum, chief data scientist and VP of solutions at Ayasdi. "For example, using Ayasdi, scientists analyzed data for breast cancer and identified various subgroups with differing survival rates along with factors that could be related to the differences."

That particular analysis included a wide range of information such as clinical data, age, gene expression, molecular markers and the treatment they were receiving. "The results helped researchers identify factors that were unique to different patient sub-populations," Lum says, "which will guide development of drugs that would be most effective for each group."

One differentiator from other analytical platforms is Ayasdi's ability to handle very large or very complex data sets, according to Lum. "Other products can provide visualization of data, but they cannot handle large volumes of data or carry out complex mathematical calculations," she says. "Therefore they cannot provide as much insight into the data, because in general, they can only answer specific questions or handle relatively straightforward data."

Ayasdi mines any kind of data and reveals connections and patterns that can then be used to ask more specific questions or test hypotheses. The software is designed to allow both subject matter experts and analysts to not only use the software independently but also to enable collaboration between those two groups, which often need to work together. "With most products, either the product is simple enough for a domain expert to use but cannot handle a lot of complexity, or it is complex and cannot be used in a collaborative way," Lum says. "Ayasdi covers both aspects."

Innovation in the pharmaceutical industry hinges on a complex interaction of people and information. Changes in both the philosophy about sharing information and the techniques for doing so can help expedite the innovation process.

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