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Annai Systems Adds Oncology Information Network to Product Portfolio

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Annai Systems, a privately held company that develops high-performance network technology for genomic research and medicine, said this week that it has acquired MedTrust Online — an online community of more than 10,000 oncologists.

Los Gatos, Calif.-based Annai bought the company through an asset-purchase transaction, but isn't disclosing the financial details, Peter Johnson, the company's chairman, told BioInform.

Annai's CEO, Lawrence Ganeshalingam, said in a statement that the MedTrust transaction "represents another major step" in Annai's efforts to build "end-to-end, network infrastructure that enables the multi-lateral flow of genomic data and knowledge between individuals and communities in research and medicine."

Annai also inherits MedTrust Online's current employees — including its executive team — making its total headcount just shy of 20 full-time and part-time employees, Johnson told BioInform.

Chris Yoo, MedTrust's CEO, will serve as Annai's senior vice president of business development.

Johnson said that his firm's acquisition of MedTrust fits in with its mission to create network infrastructure that links research and clinical communities in the genomic space and provides these groups with access to the data they need.

"We became acquainted with the desire of people on [MedTrust Online's] registry" to have access to increasing amounts of genomic information, he told BioInform.

Yoo echoed similar sentiments.

"We have clear evidence that oncologists in the MedTrust community are increasingly determined to incorporate genomic insights into the diagnosis and treatment of cancer and have an expanding appetite for the data, knowledge, expertise, and services that enable them to do so," he said in a statement.

With this evidence in hand, "we decided that [MedTrust Online] would be a terrific community for us to address in the spirit of trying to link research with medicine," Johnson told BioInform.

MedTrust Online, a spinoff from the Translational Genomics Research Institute, provides registrants with access to information about cancer diagnostics and treatment options through a portal dubbed Oncocentric. The site also provides an avenue for physicians to consult with one another about their patients.

The company has supported itself by selling advertising and other marketing services to pharmaceutical companies, molecular diagnostic providers, research institutions, and other entities that market products or services of interest to practicing oncologists in the registry.

The Oncocentric portal allows cancer clinicians to search for tumor-specific information such as molecular diagnostic tests, therapies, clinical trials, and US Food and Drug Administration-approved compounds.

The site pulls information from journal articles in PubMed, the National Library of Medicine's clinical trials registry, and the Thomson Reuters Drugdex system, which includes content such as dosage, pharmacokinetics, cautions, interactions, comparative efficacy, labeled and off-label indications, and clinical applications.

Under its new ownership, oncologists will still be able to use the MedTrust portal for free and will continue to have free access to the site's existing services and information, Johnson said.

He also said that Annai plans to incorporate additional information and services — which he declined to describe in detail — that will be made available under a paid model.

Last month, Annai was tapped to handle the transfer and management of the Cancer Genomics Hub, or CGHub, a petabyte-scale data repository that will provide access to genomic and clinical data generated by several projects led by the National Cancer Institute. CGHub is being built and maintained by the University of California, Santa Cruz.

CGHub uses the Annai-GNOS system, which is a network engine for managing large and small genomic data repositories. It uses the company's network transfer protocol, Annai-GT, to transfer and access data contained in the repositories, and provides tools for storing and searching as well as support for resources such as the NCBI SRA 1.3 metadata format (BI 5/4/2012).

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