June 1, 2007 (Vol. 27, No. 11)

Business Model Set Up to Circumvent Product Accuracy and Ease-of-use Compromise

Ludesi (www.ludesi.com) recently reported a contract with DSM(www.dsmnutritionalproducst.com) to carry out image analysis of the latter’s 2-D protein gels. The deal, Ludesi says, is further validation of its approach to analyzing images from 2-D electrophoresis gels on a per-sample basis.

Ludesi pioneered the concept of performing analyses in-house by specialized staff, eliminating all the time-consuming manual work associated with analysis for the client, claims Ola Forsstrom-Olsson, the company’s CEO. It is a move, the company maintains, that has allowed it to develop technology that has none of the sensitivity and accuracy issues evident with commercial image-analysis software.

Forsstrom-Olsson reports that because conventional 2-D gel image-analysis software is designed to be used by the scientist, there is always a certain level of compromise between product accuracy and ease of use. “Commercial image-analysis software for many complex analysis tasks has to incorporate a certain trade-off between accuracy and ease of use otherwise it would become technically too difficult for the average user,” he suggests.

“However, with 2-D gel analysis, sacrificing just a bit of accuracy results in a big difference in the correctness of the final analysis and the number of true protein regulations actually found. Because of this trade-off, commercial 2-D gel image-analysis software consistently detects, matches, and measures spots incorrectly.”

To circumvent this trade-off between accuracy and ease of use, Ludesi has essentially subdivided its software. The client is provided with easy-to-use software, through which gel images can be uploaded to Ludesi, which visualizes and interprets the analysis results.

“We keep our proprietary, advanced analytical software in-house, which allows clients’ images to be analyzed by highly skilled technicians. These technicians can do correctness controls at various points in the analysis process to guarantee a consistently high overall correctness of the analysis results, an intricate process commercial software does not have built in,” Forsstrom-Olsson continues.

“We have repeatedly proved that our analyses are far more sensitive and accurate, generating results that would not be attainable using conventional software and discovering important protein regulations that would otherwise be missed.”

Benefits of Approach

Ludesi maintains that the benefits of its software and service approach are confirmed by the growing number of clients. The recently announced DSM agreement follows a contract signed with the Johns Hopkins Bayview Proteomics Center during late 2006, under which Ludesi is now carrying out all the Center’s 2-D gel image-analysis processing for serum samples.

The company’s approach makes accurate 2-D gel image analyses accessible to all proteomics researchers, whatever their throughput, Forsstrom-Olsson points out. “Not every laboratory is willing to pay the $100,000 or so price tag for an image-analysis software license if they run a small number of gels. Ludesi gives any laboratory, research organization, or company access to the best gel image-analysis capabilities on a per sample basis.”

While expanding its organization to meet customer demand, Ludesi also plans to launch new products over coming years. “There is a major move within the field of proteomics to expand the utility of separation and fractionation technologies. To address the resulting requirements in these fields, we are working on solutions for technologies such as multidimensional chromatography, which is highly complementary to 2-D gel electrophoresis—still very much the workhorse of proteomics. These technologies have their strengths and weaknesses; our aim will be to maximize their discovery potential.”

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