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Search, Source and Share Reagents with Ximbio

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Recently launched by Cancer Research Technology, Ximbio is an online reagents portal which aims to change the way reagents are searched, sourced and shared.

We spoke to Melanie Hardman, Head of Ximbio, to find out about some of the features of Ximbio, and how it can be a useful tool for scientists and companies.

AM: Ximbio was recently launched by Cancer Research Technology. Can you tell us a little about the principles behind its development?

MH: Ximbio has been created by Cancer Research Technology (CRT), the development and commercialisation arm of Cancer Research UK, to address the challenges faced by researchers, technology transfer offices, and life science reagents companies. Over the past 25 years CRT has successfully built one of the world’s largest and most well-respected collections of life science reagents.

Activity has ramped up in the past eight years, and my team of eight now spends 100% of its time on reagent commercialisation. In this time we have commercialised over 1,000 products, and signed more than 700 agreements with over 200 reagents companies. 

Through in-depth analysis of its partnerships with technology transfer offices, life science reagents companies, and the research community, we recognised the need for an easy to use, online reagents portal. This has been validated by extensive stakeholder research over the past eight months. Ximbio has been created as a place where scientists and technology transfer offices can share their research and reagents companies can source new products. This streamlined approach saves both time and resource maximising the visibility and impact of all research reagents. By unifying the reagent community in this way, the aim is to make tools more widely and easily available, helping to accelerate life science research.

AM: What features make Ximbio an attractive resource for scientists looking for specific reagents to use in their research?

MH: Researchers often struggle to identify and source specific reagents. Ximbio offers a fully searchable database, extensive datasheets, and supplier options, and in future will also feature peer reviews of listed products. The reagent reviews listed on Ximbio will be provided by real users, giving valuable information about the usefulness of the tool in a specific experiment and application.

Ximbio can also help scientists to make an informed decision about where to source a product. They can search for a product on Ximbio, and easily identify a life science reagent company supplying that product.

AM: Ximbio can also be used by companies to source new products. Can you explain this process?

MH: Life sciences reagents companies face a huge challenge in identifying new reagents to commercialise. Through Ximbio these companies can easily source new products to augment their portfolios via a straightforward commercialisation process.

Life science reagents companies currently have to source new products directly from individual technology transfer offices or originating labs. Ximbio provides a central, fully searchable, portal for life science reagents from researchers around the world. Using Ximbio will therefore save life science reagents companies time and manpower costs sourcing new products.

The extensive datasheets with quality technical data will enable life science reagents companies to quickly evaluate whether a product meets their sourcing strategy.

AM: Another feature of Ximbio is virtual reagent deposit and sharing. What benefits does this service offer researchers and technology transfer offices?

MH: Ximbio’s main benefit is that it offers researchers and technology transfer offices a way to share the reagents they generate, broadening the range of tools available to scientists globally and supporting and advancing life science research. Researchers and technology transfer offices face time and resource challenges in commercialising reagents. Through Ximbio they can virtually deposit their reagents free of charge to an online portal.

Technology transfer offices have the option of contracting Ximbio to fully manage their reagent portfolio. We then act as an extension of the technology transfer office, arranging licensing deals with life science reagents companies, and also offering manufacturing, storage and fulfilment facilities.

Technology transfer offices often have to contact multiple life science reagents companies before finding the right commercialisation partner. This is both time and resource intensive, and results in many valuable reagents never reaching the market as they often don’t have the time or resource to commercialise low-value items such as antibodies. Ximbio enables technology transfer offices to increase the return on reagents originating from their institute, and provides global visibility of reagents. Importantly, researchers and technology transfer offices can benefit from our existing relationships with more than 80 life science reagents companies.

Reagents that may otherwise not have been commercialised due to lack of time and resource are made available to the wider scientific community, which also helps technology transfer offices to build improved relationships with their scientists. In addition, because technology transfer offices often rely on inventors to fulfil orders for reagents, the focus of the lab can be directed away from core research. If Ximbio manages the portfolio, this responsibility is taken off their hands, leaving researchers to focus on their investigations.

As each reagent record can be linked to the originating inventor on Ximbio, the risk of reagents getting ‘lost’ in laboratories, when scientists leave or projects change, is reduced, and scientists and institutes can to be credited for their work. Ximbio thereby enables scientists and institutes to raise their profile, as future users will be able to trace the reagent back to where it originated from, making it easier to cite the source of reagents in publications.

Visit www.ximb.io to register.

Melanie Hardman was speaking to Anna-Marie MacDonald, Editor for Technology Networks.