Featured Lab – BiomX
“Labguru changes the way we manage our research. We save time on searching for samples because we use the inventory management module. Our documentation process is now much simpler as everything is well documented in Labguru”
We interviewed Erez Matalon, Head of Assay Development and CMC support, of BiomX to learn more about the groundbreaking research that is taking place in BiomX and their experience with using Labguru.
Tell us about BiomX
BiomX is a microbiome drug discovery company developing customized phage therapies that seek and destroy harmful bacteria in chronic diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and cancer. We discover and validate proprietary bacterial targets and customize our natural and engineered phage compositions against these targets. The Company’s platforms use computational and synthetic biology and cutting-edge research. The microbiome – all the bacteria that reside in and on the human body – is a new, exciting, and fast-developing field at the crossroads of pharmaceuticals and nutrition, offering abundant opportunities for the development of new medicines. The multitude of biological processes and indications affected by the microbiome make the bacteria in the human microbiome critical to health. The composition of bacteria forming the microbiome, mainly gut bacteria, has been linked to various health conditions, including allergies, gastrointestinal disorders, obesity, and cancer. However, the microbiome’s diversity presents a challenge for identifying specific targets and developing new medicines to treat its imbalance.
BiomX lab is located in Israel and the lab employs 30 people, all using Labguru.
What is your role in BiomX?
I am the Head of Assay Development and CMC support. My team and I are responsible to develop bio-assays that will allow us to perform bacterial target validation for different chronic diseases. We also develop in-house methods for purification and production of our products and later support our CMO’s and CRO’s in terms of tech transfer and troubleshooting if needed.
Tell us more about what your lab does? What kind of technics do you use in your kind of research?
BiomX relies on three main platforms: target bacteria discovery, phage discovery and product development. Our platforms use cutting-edge computational and synthetic biology to discover and validate proprietary bacterial targets and customize our natural and engineered phage compositions against these targets
The target bacteria discovery platform uses unique approaches to examine the complex microbiome to identify key harmful bacteria. These approaches are being applied on metagenomic and metatranscriptomic data to pinpoint harmful bacteria linked to disease states. We test the strain relative abundance, the bacterial growth dynamics and the RNA level response to stimuli.
The phage discovery platform develops customized phage therapies that seek and destroy harmful bacteria targets. It allows screening, identification, characterization, and engineering (if necessary) of phages specific to a given bacteria target. This process results in a customized phage cocktail – a combination of several natural or engineered phage – that is validated in-vitro/in-vivo to be efficient at targeting the harmful bacteria and could advance to product development.
We apply proprietary, high throughput, automated screening methodologies, use a wide array of clinical and environmental phage-containing samples, and screen against a range of bacterial hosts to dramatically increase discovery rates of natural phage.
cases where natural phage are not identiﬁed, we use multiple methods to synthesize phage that are reactive to the target bacteria. These include “reprogramming” of lysogenic (dormant) phage to a strictly lytic (active) mode, and the expansion of the phage host range to both achieve eradication of a wider array of bacterial strains and overcome bacterial resistance.
Candidate phage are characterized with respect to a large number of parameters in order to allow selection of an optimal phage cocktail. These include high throughput genomic approaches to rapidly characterize identified phage. The phage combinations are designed to allow broad coverage of target strains and prevent the appearance of resistant strains.
Our product development platform develops proprietary assays and processes for pre-clinical and clinical development of our pipeline products.
What were the key challenges your lab was facing?
The key challenge that we were facing was the need to track, manage and store huge amounts of data. We looked for a platform that will enable us to share and search data within context between the different teams and to generate relevant insights from the data collected. In addition, we needed a user-friendly system in which we can store our data in a proper manner while maintaining regulatory compliance and easily search the data repository.
Why did your company choose Labguru?
After checking various options, we chose Labguru as we found it very user-friendly and intuitive. Labguru has many benefits and answered all the key challenges we had. It offered the ability to plan and track our different projects, store the results and communicate within context, and comply with regulatory demands. In addition, we use the inventory management module.
We felt that Labguru’s customer success and technical teams were extremely helpful throughout the onboarding process and after, during the day to day work – they are always on top of things whenever they are needed. We found that the Labguru team is very responsive to our comments and suggestions and have the ability to provide quick turnarounds.
Who in your lab is using Labguru?
Basically, most of the people in the company use Labguru. The scientists document the data, the team leaders are responsible to review and sign the work and the project managers manage the folders in each project.
Did Labguru change any internal processes in your company?
Labguru enabled us to use the “sign and witness” options. This step is critical so we can be aligned with the regulatory compliance demands. We can also internally share and review the results, document reports and write working protocol and SOPs. We also use the inventory module for some of our samples. These features are extremely important when dealing with large amounts of data.
What was your overall goal when you started using Labguru?
Our overall goal was to properly document and store all our data that was saved in many different places without the ability to track the progress of projects and link the results within the experiment, including the metadata. In addition, we wanted a user-friendly system that didn’t require hours of onboarding and we looked for a system that support was available from the system supplier.
How did Labguru help you?
Labguru changes the way we manage our research. We save time on searching for samples because we use the inventory management module. Our documentation process is now much simpler as everything is well documented in Labguru: all the projects and experiments are planned and tracked, results are recorded within Labguru and links are placed between projects and experiments when needed. In addition, the communication between lab members is often done with the Labguru system and is within context.
What Labguru features do you like most and find critical for your work?
In the discussion feature, there is an option to send any of the documents by mail so other people can review and comment. This is an easy way to communicate internally and provide feedback.
Has your team communication improved?
Before using Labguru we sent each other comments by email or notes and it was not connected to the experiment or results. With Labguru we can now discuss the protocols/results easier and share the results easily. All comments and discussions are linked to the experiment. Labguru offers various ways to communicate with fellow lab mates and the fact that it is always linked to the specific protocol or result makes it much easier to follow and keep everything in order.
Can you describe the ROI (Return On Investment) you see from Labguru?
Overall our lab work became more communicative, we can track the data easily, we can store our inventory in a proper manner this way we can save many working hours and improve work efficiency.
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