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BioDatomics Gets Funding to Support Drug Addiction Research Project, Informatics Platform Expansion

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This article has been updated to correct the previously reported cost for a site license. It costs $50,000 not $200,000.

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – BioDatomics has received a $200,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health's National Institute on Drug Abuse to work on a collaborative project with the J. Craig Venter Institute focused on finding genetic traits that make some patients susceptible to addiction to commonly prescribed pain killers.

Alan Taffel, BioDatomics president, told BioInform this week that the partners will look for correlations between genomic traits and a to-be-determined list of drugs using his company’s BioDT Hadoop-based infrastructure and customized informatics workflows built by the JCVI team using genomic analysis software currently offered on the BioDT platform. This isn't the first time these two have worked together — JCVI was one of the early testers of the BioDT platform.

Separately, BioDatomics has received $100,000 from the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development's Maryland Venture Fund (MVF). This capital investment is part of a larger fundraising round during which the company raised an undisclosed amount of money from a number of unnamed investors. Taffel said that these funds will support the company's general operating expenses and also support development efforts around BioDT. He declined to disclose what new features customers can expect moving forward. However, he did say that the firm expects to make some of these available this year.

BioDatomics launched BioDT late last year during the American Society of Human Genetics meeting, which was held in Boston. The system has over 400 open-source tools, such as the Broad Institute's Genome Analysis Toolkit, Galaxy, the Burrows-Wheeler Aligner, and so on, that can be combined into analysis workflows and used to explore data from mRNA, ChIP, whole-exome and whole-genome sequencing experiments.

The company offers three versions of Bio-DT: a freely available downloadable community version and priced local and cloud-based versions — that are more secure and run faster than the free version — where customers are charged either per compute hour with monthly usage fees starting at around $50, or charged per seat licensing fees of $2,000 or per site licensing fees of $50,000 per 200 cores — the site license initially cost $20,000 but that price did not include Cloudera Hadoop support, which has since been added.

The company targets research customers working in academia, the pharmaceutical industry, and in independent and government labs. At the time of last year's launch, BioDatomics announced that it had formed a partnership with Digicon, an information technology vendor that provides health science-related IT services to government agencies, with an eye toward getting its product in front of potential clients in the federal arena. Digicon has since launched a service called BioGenLink that makes use of BioDT. That relationship has proved fruitful for BioDatomics, Taffel said this week, as its pipeline has been used in "multiple demonstrations within the NIH and has gotten a strong reception."

There's also a lot of interest in BioDT from both technology and channel partners, Taffel said, although the company isn't disclosing who these potential partners are at the present time. It plans to unveil these partnerships at later dates.

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