Affymetrix’s decision to use Lion Bioscience’s SRS platform as the back end for its proposed web portal validates the SRS technology as “the standard integration platform for diverse data in the market,” said Lion CSO Jan Mous.
Affymetrix licensed SRS for three years. Further terms of the agreement were not disclosed, though Mous did call the size of the deal “larger than usual” for Lion. Affymetrix intends to use SRS in its in-house R&D in addition to using it as the supporting technology for a web portal it is building for current and potential customers.
David Craford, vice president of marketing, instrumentation, and informatics at Affymetrix, said the company “did a pretty thorough evaluation of many products” in its search for an integration tool, but chose SRS because Lion, based in Heidelberg, Germany, is a “proven performer for portals” and a large number of Affymetrix’s customers already use the SRS technology.
SRS also serves as a web portal for the Celera Discovery System and for TheScientificWorld, a website that delivers data from scientific literature. The system integrates more than 400 databases and is currently used by more than 50 commercial customers and more than 100 academic institutions.
Craford said the first phase of the Affymetrix portal would be a free online resource of sequence and annotation information of interest to existing and potential users of the company’s chips. The portal is expected to provide information on genomes, genes, transcripts, proteins, and literature annotation.
Both public domain information and data proprietary to Affymetrix will be available in the first phase, Craford said. While Affymetrix considers the public domain the “best resource for sequence information,” Craford said the company hasn’t ruled out offering third-party information in future implementations.
“Our focus is really on getting the first phase out, getting a lot of customers’ feedback, and developing future generations based on the feedback we receive,” Craford said. Affymetrix expects the portal to be available by the end of the summer.
The portal should meet the needs of users who may not necessarily handle Affy’s chips directly, but handle the data they generate, Craford said, noting that this group is growing by leaps and bounds over direct users of the chips. “We look at it as a more efficient way to provide customers with the data that are necessary to utilize our technology platform.”
Mous said the wide user base anticipated for the portal would provide Lion with a high degree of visibility in the gene expression analysis market.
Lion is currently planning to use SRS as the backend for its own ASP-style portal, which will deliver the company’s software products, Mous said. The Lion portal should be available later in the year.