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Accelrys, Neurome, Apple, BioTools, Genops Bioinformatics, Tripos, InforMax, SciMax


Accelrys Sees Strong Pre-Launch Demand for DS Gene

Although Accelrys just began shipping its new Discovery Studio Gene software last week, a company spokesman said it had already sold 18-20 copies of the software in the weeks prior to rollout. The anxious buyers were “lots of Wisconsin Package users” eager to move off the software’s traditional command line interface and onto a Windows-friendly version of the bioinformatics mainstay, according to the company.

Steven Levine, senior director of strategic partnerships for Accelrys, said DS Gene would replace the company’s Omiga sequence analysis software, which will be phased out. DS Gene connects to the Wisconsin Package as well, which will continue to offer the familiar command line interface and web interface. However, an X Windows GUI serves as the basis for a new Discovery Studio interface that will be consistent across the range of software products Acclerys plans to offer, including DS Modeling, a proteomics-flavored offering that will be launched in September.

Beginning in December 2002, DS Gene will also connect to Accelrys’ SeqStore database, which the company plans to link with AtlasStore and its other databases for a fourth-quarter rollout, as well as the DS Project Knowledge Manager middleware-based enterprise infrastructure.

Kevin Kendall, product manager for bioinformatics at Accelrys, noted that the component-based Discovery Studio platform overcomes the current limitations of desktop tools and enterprise solutions by offering a little bit of each option. Researchers are unable to share data easily using desktop tools, he said, but often find the usability of enterprise platforms lacking. The DS platform allows users to customize their solutions. The standalone version of DS Gene is priced at $2,500 per copy for academic users and $5,000 for commercial users. Pricing for integration into the full DS Project KM platform is on a per-project basis.


Neurome Selects IBM to Support Mouse Brain Database

La Jolla, Calif.-based brain research firm Neurome said it would use IBM computing and storage technology in a data center it is building to support development of a database that will map 3D images of mouse brain structures, circuits, and cells to gene expression patterns.

Neurome will use the IBM eServer p690 system running AIX to process its 3D models of mouse brain structures and the TotalStorage FAStT500 storage server with up to seven terabytes of storage capacity. The company uses proprietary methods to automatically image mouse brain sections, collecting dozens of images, which each range from 125 megabytes to 20 gigabytes in size. Data from the images are then extracted using other proprietary Neurome software, and linked to the genotypes of these brains.

Although Neurome considers itself a contract research firm, it said it plans to make its database available by subscription to researchers studying mouse models of brain function and disease. Further details on these commercial plans were not immediately available.


Apple Releases Initial Xserve Blast Benchmarks

Apple said last week that it has received orders for more than 4,000 Xserve G4-based 1U rack-mount servers since the product’s introduction in May, and has begun shipping its first systems. The company also released performance data for the Xserve Blast implementation, in addition to web serving and disk performance benchmarks.

According to Apple, a standard search of over 34 MB of data with a word length of 8 on Xserve running Apple/Genentech Blast is up to 19 times faster than on a Sun Fire V100 running NCBI Blast on Solaris and nearly 8 times faster than an IBM x330 running NCBI Blast on Linux. On a word length of 40, Xserve is 5.8 times faster than IBM and 13.9 times faster than Sun.

In addition, Apple said that industry WebBench performance benchmarks indicate that Xserve could support 60 percent more connections on an Apache Web Server than an IBM eServer x330 (4,051 web connections per second compared to 2,547 connections per second).


BioTools and Genops in Co-Marketing Agreement

Canadian bioinformatics companies BioTools and Genops Bioinformatics recently signed a co-marketing and integration pact.

Under the terms of the agreement, Edmonton, AB-based BioTools and Vancouver, BC-based Genops will collaborate to develop and market integrated software solutions. Specifically, BioTools’ ChromaTool, GenTool, and PepTool products will be integrated as functional modules within Genops’ Ngene Linux-cluster-based enterprise platform.


Tripos Blames Poor Q2 Earnings on Tough Pharma Market

Cheminformatics firm Tripos said last week that it has revised its financial guidance for the second quarter of 2002 and for the full year. The company attributed lower-than-expected revenue in software licensing and consulting services to “delayed purchase decisions among potential customers of both business lines, and the missed delivery of a key milestone in a complex deployment within the [consulting] business.” In addition, Tripos did not initiate any new licenses for its MetaLayer integration platform during the quarter.

“The general uncertainty in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries impeded the closing of pending contracts,” said Tripos CEO John McAlister. “While we believe our new business pipeline is strong and our integrated business lines are increasing our penetration into the pharmaceutical industry, we also believe that the current environment is dictating extreme deliberation by our customers around purchasing decisions.”

Tripos reduced revenue estimates for the year from a range of $60 to $65 million to a range of $53 million to $58 million. For the second quarter, the company expects to report total revenue between $10.5 million and $11.0 million.

“We are aggressively examining all aspects of our business to increase efficiencies and streamline operations while ensuring that our collaborations are on track,” said McAlister.


SciMax to Distribute InforMax Software in Germany and Austria

InforMax has signed a distribution agreement with Nuremberg, Germany-based SciMax to sell InforMax’s desktop and enterprise software tools in Germany and Austria.

The agreement extends to InforMax’s entire family of desktop solutions, including Vector NTI and Xpression NTI, as well as the GenoMax enterprise platform.

“We feel this agreement will better support our current customers as well as provide InforMax with greater exposure in this vibrant portion of the European marketplace,” said CEO Andrew Whiteley in a statement.

InforMax said it currently has more than 7,000 customers in the European market and close to 2,500 customers in Germany and Austria.

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