MassMatrix Software Helps Advance Personalized Medicine Therapies

“Proteins are the molecules of life.” That’s how MassMatrix CEO G. Hall Johnson begins his explanation of the power of MassMatrix’s software.

Invented at The Ohio State University and licensed to MassMatrix, the analytical mapping platform is used by hundreds of scientists around the world to identify, characterize, and quantify proteins and peptides in tissue and fluid samples that have been analyzed by mass spectrometers.

Such large scale study of protein structure and function (called proteomics) is vital to identifying the biomarkers necessary for developing targeted therapies and niche drugs that are driving innovation in personalized medicine.

Personalized medicine is the new frontier of disease prevention and therapy.

Personalized medicine is complicated, calling on the extremely data-intense disciplines of both proteomics and genomics. That means big data in the extreme.

“Genomic analysis helps to understand if someone has a predisposition to certain diseases, but that only takes you so far,” Johnson said. “It doesn’t tell you if that predisposition has started to express itself in the body yet or ever will, which is why proteins are so important. Proteins are made from the genes plus they have these all-encompassing functions in our bodies which includes turning genes on and off.”

Mass spectrometry, which scientists use to identify precise chemicals in specific molecules in specific cells, is revolutionizing medical research.  As spectrometers and other instruments are becoming more sensitive with higher resolution, the requirements to analyze the data to reach bio-informatics solutions is growing exponentially.

“Pharmaceutical companies are developing complex bio-drugs based on large protein molecules, so they require multiple products to help with that analysis,” Johnson said.

“As a startup,” he said, “I anticipated that we would face more of a challenge getting our foot in the door, but I’m finding that analytical chemists are really interested in knowing what’s out there.  It was a delightful surprise that these scientists want to know about the next best thing.”

MassMatrix proves Central Ohio’s Backyard Effect in motion.

“A little over a year ago, I was having coffee with a buddy who had previously built a search engine optimization company,” said Johnson, who has two decades of experience in building an advanced technology business.  “I was hooked when he told me about the under-served space between inventors and technology developed at research institutions and investors.”

That friend connected Johnson with Rev1 and the team at OSU’s Technology Commercialization Office.

“And now,” Johnson said, “we have large pharmaceutical companies, investors and world class proteomic scientists helping to mature MassMatrix into a more complete commercial solution.”