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Base4 Bioinformatics Expands Offices, Introduces Intranet-Based Product

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TORONTO--Base4 Bioinformatics here, in business two years this month, will soon introduce an intranet-based product to assist pharmaceutical drug discovery and development. The software system, intended to enable drug discovery teams within a pharmaceutical company to share and catalog information easily via a company intranet, expands the definition of "bioinformatics tools." The Allelix Pharmaceuticals spinoff also plans to expand its reach, opening offices in San Diego and Vancouver and doubling staff at its office here within the year.

Base4 said it struck an agreement with general industry software vendor Open Text of Waterloo, Ont., to resell its intranet technology LiveLink, a scalable, collaborative knowledge management application, with Base4's PharMatrix product.

Base4 President Martin Sumner-Smith said, "LiveLink provides a complete knowledge management solution to manage the data and allow team collaboration between research centers around the world."

Kent Hawkins, vice-president for business development at Base4, explained a potential use for the product: "Most drugs get canceled during the process to produce a successful drug. A few years down the road, information about those failed drugs isn't easily accessible. The industry needs a place for collaboration, a repository for information reports." Hawkins said PharMatrix, used in combination with LiveLink, provides that repository.

Hawkins explained that PharMatrix will allow researchers to publish their discoveries to the rest of a project team or company, and it allows a company to archive information or share data across projects. "The project team can share information this way instead of through meetings or water cooler talks," he said.

Asked if the product stretches the definition of bioinformatics, Hawkins said the term is expanding. "Bioinformatics today is really more encompassing, including all informatics used for drug discovery and development," he said.

Base4 is expanding along with the definition of its market. After gaining its first external customers just last fall and receiving a $4.5 million cash infusion in January, Base4 is ready to break new ground. Hawkins said the company expects to double its 25-person staff here this year. Within Canada, another office operates in Montreal and a staff member moved recently to establish an office in Vancouver. A senior staff member has moved to San Diego to recruit staff for the new office there.

Explaining the decision to locate an office in the US, Hawkins said, "We couldn't grow just by focusing on Canada. The US is way and afar the leader, and the West Coast is way ahead of the rest of the country."

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