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DoubleTwist Signs on as Weizmann Institute s First GeneCards Licensee

NEW YORK, Jan 3 - Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science has signed DoubleTwist as the first commercial licensee for its GeneCards Encyclopedia, a web-based interface that offers biomedical information about the structure and function of human genes, a source close to the project said Wednesday.

A spokesman from Yeda, the technology transfer arm of the Weizmann Institute, confirmed that a commercial entity is licensing GeneCards, although he declined to disclose the identity of the company or the financial details of the licensing agreement.

Catherine Collier, a DoubleTwist spokeswoman, declined to comment, saying the company was in a quiet period in the run-up to their planned initial public offering.

GeneCards began as an add-on to the Weizmann Institute’s Unified Database, a mapping database for all of the chromosomes. UDB is now one of 22 databases from which the GeneCards encyclopedia extracts data.

A typical GeneCards lists the official name of the gene, a list of synonyms, homologous genes in the mouse genome, the names of its protein products, and the UniGene cluster of sequences related to the gene. The card also lists disorders in which the gene appears to be involved, the coordinates of the gene, titles of related research articles, and medical applications based on knowledge about the gene.

There are currently 19,175 GeneCards in the system, more than doubling last January’s 9,445. The most recent release boosted the GeneCards count by 4,990.

Access to the main GeneCards site is available at http://bioinfo.weizmann.ac.il/cards . A Weizmann spokesperson declined to comment on how the commercial licensing deal would affect academic users’ access to the GeneCards website.

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