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Nestle Buys Lion s Bioinformatics System For Food Research

NEW YORK, Nov 2 – Lion Bioscience has licensed its software to Nestle and will help the Swiss food giant develop an integrated bioinformatics system, Lion announced Thursday.

In the deal, Lion granted perpetual licenses to Nestle for its SRS data integration technology, as well as bioscout,   its gene and genome annotation system; arrayscout, its microarray analysis system ; and genomescout, its comparison software. The two companies will collaborate in future implementation of Pathscout, a bioniformatics software product Lion is developing for analyzing biological pathways and other software for EST clustering. The companies did not disclose the financial terms of the arrangement.

This agreement is Lion’s first commercial foray into the food industry. Lion has previously focused on providing bioinformatics systems for big pharma, netting a $100 million deal with Bayer, and most recently, a $25 million additional agreement in which it will work with Tripos to integrate bioinformatics and cheminformatics for the German pharmaceutical giant.

This new Nestle deal provides Lion with what it hopes is an opportunity to expand its product reach to food- or agriculture-based companies.

“We will develop [the bioinformatics system] together with Nestle, which provides us with deeper insight into what we will need to do to make our product fit the demands of the market,” said Andrea Kreisselmeier, Lion’s Director of Marketing and Communications.

The bulk of the software implementation and development for this project will take place out of Lion’s Heidelberg, Germany headquarters, although some work will occur in its Cambridge, UK office, where SRS is developed.

Nestle will use the software for genomics research on food products such as the bacteria used in yogurt, according to Lion.

" Bioinformatics offers exciting opportunities to improve and accelerate our research efforts,"   Andrea Pfeifer, Director of the Nestle Research Center in Switzerland, said in a statement. “Nestle has a strong interest in this key technology to strengthen and consolidate its leading position in food research and development in order to meet the needs and desires of our consumers."

A high-powered bioinformatics system can offer the food industry the same thing it offers pharma, according to Maciek Sasinowski, CEO of Incogen. “Rather than doing things through trial and error, bioinformatics will allow them to do product research faster and get financial benefits,” he said.

Lion hopes this deal is just the beginning of its collaboration with Nestle.

“We see this as a starting point which leaves a lot of room for growing in this market,” said Kreisselmeier. “We hope we can grow with them. That is our goal.”
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