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Chinese Genome Center Selects Pangea s Bioinformatics Software

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SHANGHAI--The Chinese National Human Genome Center here has selected software from Oakland, Calif.-based Pangea Systems to serve as the foundation for its bioinformatics system. Zhu Chen, director of the center, which was established in March, said the suite of products will be used to store, process, and analyze sequence data.

The package included Pangea's GeneWorld high-throughput analysis application, Pulse information management environment, and EST Clustering and Alignment Tools for genomics and target validation efforts. The license for the clustering and alignment software is the sixth Pangea has sold since launching the product in September. Marie Martin, the company's communications director, told BioInform that revenues from the new product "have hit the million-dollar mark." She said Pangea expects to close at least four more sales of the tools in the next eight weeks.

Pangea got an inside track on the contract through Matthew Wong, a senior scientist at the company who is also an advisor to the center. However, Wong emphasized that Pangea's products were selected "100 percent on merit." He claimed that the Pangea tools could accomplish the necessary tasks much more quickly than the competing products the center considered.

According to Martin, "We've literally had customers say to us, I don't believe you can cluster 2 million sequences in a day. When they see it's true, it's a no-brainer. The technology is selling itself."

GeneWorld is designed to enable researchers to access, annotate, and analyze high volumes of both public and proprietary sequence data. Pulse, the company said, is an open, scalable, and extensible information management environment with a programmatic interface that enables bioinformatics developers to extend its functionality. The EST tools allow clustering and alignment of expressed sequence tags (EST's) and full-length sequences within large databases. Pangea said they "provide accurate molecular information in order to increase the sensitivity with which molecular targets can be identified and the selectivity with which they can be validated."

The Chinese National Human Genome Center is dedicated to conducting research to identify and clone disease-related genes and novel genes of functional importance. When it opened, the center announced that it planned to sequence a large number of full-length cDNA and genomic DNA at Mb scale. Researchers at the center have been active in human genomic research since 1994. To catch up with the progress of the worldwide Human Genome Project, they said they plan to develop international collaborations and use state-of-the-art genomics technologies to attract foreign researchers.

Robin Carr, a product marketing manager at Pangea, told BioInform that, excluding sales to multinational corporations, the center is Pangea's first international customer. At the moment the company's sales force is entirely US-based, she said, but establishing an office overseas "is just a question of focus, time, and money."

"Definitely, to be a player in this market you need some sort of Asian or European presence," Carr concluded.

--Adrienne Burke

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