Why induce a financial headache by paying millions of dollars for two separate genetic databases when GenBank’s data is available from the government for free? Just ask American Home Products, maker of popular pain reliever Advil, which recently signed up for subscriptions to the databases offered by both Celera Genomics and Incyte Genomics.
“GenBank is derived from many sources and is inconsistent in quality,” Patrick Gage, president of Wyeth-Ayerst Research, the pharmaceutical research division of AHP, told BioInform.
Gage said that AHP decided to subscribe to both since each of the commercial databases offers researchers unique insight into the genome as they mine for drug-target gold.
Celera’s databases contain the actual DNA sequence of a particular genome. So no matter how the genes are alternatively spliced in the production of different proteins, the database will contain the sequence. Incyte’s database holds cDNA clones, or DNA copies of the parts of the genome that are expressed, providing better clues into what proteins it will produce.
Celera’s particular advantage, said Gage, lies in the software. A subscription to Celera’s database includes a bioinformatics package for viewing, browsing, and analyzing genomic information.
“The amount of data is enormous,” said Gage. Celera’s database and software “provides us with an encyclopedia to go to instead of having to generate all that data ourselves.”
Gage said AHP would use its new database subscriptions to accelerate its search for new targets for small molecule drugs, particularlyproteins.
He would not say how much the Madison, NJ-based company paid for the access but said the fees were similar to what other organizations have paid.
—Aaron J. Sender