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DoubleTwist to Commercialize GeneCards Database

NEW YORK, April 24 – DoubleTwist announced Tuesday that it had acquired the exclusive rights to commercialize the Weizmann Institute’s GeneCards database, reflecting the company’s efforts to expand its offerings by not only building its own products but also by gaining access to pre-existing technology and services.

“Our strategy has been to aggregate valuable information and valuable sources of data and tools,” Robert Williamson, president of DoubleTwist, told GenomeWeb, which originally reported a deal between the two parties in January.

“They [GeneCards] have a great reputation in the scientific community for giving a gene-by-gene view. DoubleTwist offers the sequence perspective,” Williamson said.

GeneCards offers information on more than 20,000 genes and their disease associations as well as relevant links to other databases. In addition to commercializing the database, DoubleTwist said it had agreed to fund further development of GeneCards.

DoubleTwist, which expects to initially charge about $100,000 per year/per site, will first make the database available as a stand-alone product. Eventually, the company will also integrate it into DoubleTwist.com. DoubleTwist said it would continue to make GeneCards available free to academic users.

“Researchers from industry have been wanting a way to license GeneCards. I am delighted that we can now address their needs through this partnership with DoubleTwist,” Marilyn Safran, head of the GeneCards development team in Rehovot, Israel, said in a statement. 

DoubleTwist, which had about $24 million in cash as of last September, said it considered acquiring access to GeneCards to be less risky than developing such a product itself. 

“Commercial users are very interested in this, which means we don’t need to take a risk on [developing] a product” that researchers might not adapt to, said Erik Svenson, director of business development at DoubleTwist.

In January, DoubleTwist announced a similar deal with Genomatix Software, in which DoubleTwist agreed to license Genomatix’s Promoter Resource Database for sale alone or with DoubleTwist’s Prophecy genome database and analysis package.

DoubleTwist declined to say what percentage of the revenues it would keep from sales of subscriptions to GeneCards.

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