NEW YORK, Jan 23 – Entigen and the South African National Bioinformatics Institute are collaborating to develop Clusterall, a group of genome datasets that will show which genes are expressed or turned off under which conditions, the organizations said Tuesday.
Clusterall will use algorithms to analyze and assemble ESTs, mRNA, and gene sequence data from a number of organisms, including those with condensed genomes, such as maize, and animals with larger genomes. The information will be compiled in a database that will streamline genome-based research, the companies said.
“What we are doing is providing a nicely organized set of genes whereas before we just had a set of ESTs,” said SANBI director Winston Hide. “Entigen is going to pick up these resources and place them within their system, [providing] them in the first annotated and accessible format.”
Under the agreement, Entigen of Sunnyvale, Calif., is funding a post-doctoral researcher at SANBI and providing hardware and software tools for the project. SANBI will be able to make the organized datasets publicly available as soon as they are complete, but Entigen will have first access to annotate them and provide “clean access” to them with their BioNavigator set of data analysis tools, according to Hide. There will be no licensing fees or patents.
" Through BioNavigator, Entigen provides bioinformatics resources usually found only in the world's largest genome research facilities to individual researchers with ordinary budgets," said Tim Littlejohn, founder and chief scientific officer of Entigen. “Our Clusterall collaboration with SANBI will provide global access to current gene databases, for a variety of organisms, to those researchers at very reasonable cost, inside the BioNavigator Bioinformatics Workspace."
Littlejohn, who sits on the board of SANBI, has been discussing this agreement with the institute for about nine months, said Hide.
“He came to me with initial proposal and said ‘Winston, don’t you want to cluster a large number of available transcriptants? What we’d like to do at Entigen is go through a process of making [this] available under our structure,’” Hide recounted. “This saved me the effort of generating a grant proposal, and the result is now saving time.”
Hide hopes to use the datasets generated from the collaboration in his evolutionary biology research.