Press release

Gaia, the first intuitive SaaS software for human, animal & plant metagenomics that compares samples in real time
Researchers Walter Severino (CEO) and Riccardo Aiese (CSO), founders of Sequentia Biotech (Photo: Parc Científic de Barcelona)
Sequentia Biotech based at the Barcelona Science Park (PCB) recently developed Gaia, an online bioinformatics tool able to manage and analyze metagenomic data from any microbial community (bacteria, viruses and eukaryotes) generated by new sequencing technologies (Next Generation Sequencing, NGS) applied to human, animal and plant genetics.
Metagenomics (environmental or community genomics) is the study of the metagenome; that is, the entire DNA of various microorganisms present in a habitat. This is a new field of genomics that seeks to obtain and analyze genome sequences of the different microorganisms that make up a community through NGS technologies, without the need to isolate or grow such microorganisms in vitro. This provides information not only on the structure of the community (diversity, distribution, etc.) but also on the function of the microbial genes that make up such structure.

Metagenomics has enormous potential in different areas of the life sciences as well as in the natural and experimental sciences. However, it is a major challenge for bioinformatics due to the large amount of data resulting from mixing the genomes of hundreds of organisms present in a sample, belonging to different species, which interact with each other so as to sustain the ecosystem.

Sequentia Biotech has developed Gaia to respond to this challenge in bioinformatics. Gaia is an on-line tool that is able to obtain a comprehensive and detailed overview of the microbiomes of different origins such as human (stomach, mouth, skin etc.), animal, organic waste, agricultural, and environmental (land, water, etc.).

"This is an online bioinformatics tool that provides metagenomic data analysis from environmental samples, which is a major advantage, since it has been estimated that using traditional methods based on in vitro isolation and culture of microorganisms "between 90-99% of the microbes in the sample are lost" explains Walter Sanseverino, cofounder and CEO of Sequentia.

It also works at any organism level (eukaryotes, prokaryotes and viruses), compared to most currently available bioinformatics systems that only work at bacterial level. This new bioinformatics tool is also the first to automatically integrate all hierarchic levels of taxonomical classification (from kingdom to subspecies) with functional classification. Additionally, it compares samples of any taxonomic level in real time and provides results in just 12 hours. This allows the analysis to be much wider, faster and efficient.

Moreover, because of its graphical and intuitive interface and ease of use, Gaia does not require specialized training; any researcher who is not an expert in bioinformatics can use this software and easily evaluate the analysis of the results obtained.

"Gaia´s main innovation lies in that its functionality and performance are equal or superior to other software packages, but with greater speed and ease of use. In addition, Gaia is a SAAS tool and hence it does not require the installation of software in the server, unlike other programs that take up space and slow down the speed of user terminals", says Riccardo Aiese, co-founder and CSO of Sequentia Biotech.

Transforming genomic data into knowledge

Sequentia Biotech was founded in 2013 by Walter Sanseverino (CEO) and Riccardo Aiese Cigliano (CSO), two young researchers with a real passion for genetics and omics sciences, as a spin-off of the Centre for Research in Agricultural Genomics (CRAG), a consortium composed by CSIC, IRTA, UAB and the UB.

The objective of Sequentia Biotech is to create proprietary know-how to increase the access of the scientific community to the information produced by new generation sequencing technologies (Next Generation Sequencing, NGS) efficiently and affordably.

The company is based at the Barcelona Science Park and focuses its work on the design and development of new bioinformatic tools for the analysis and integration of genomic and post-genomic data that expedite basic and applied research. Currently, and just three years since its inception, Sequentia has achieved a large highly diversified portfolio of clients and partners, consisting of over 30 public and private research centers, companies and hospitals. The company is taking part in more than 160 R & D public and private projects; and it has two open source biodata banks.

Cofounders Walter Sanseverino and Riccardo Aiese have published more than 40 scientific articles in high impact journals such as Nature Genetics, Scientific Report or DNA Research.
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