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CuraGen s Internet Genomics Portal Will Offer Human, Agricultural Data And Tools

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NEW HAVEN, Conn.--Genomics researchers can now access CuraGen's bioinformatics software suite, CuraTools, and apply it to certain genomic databases that the company will provide at no cost through its internet site, http://www.curagen.com. CuraGen introduced GeneScape Portal to the public last month and said select human genomic data from its own databases and other sources such as the Human Genome Project and the recently established SNP Consortium would be made available immediately. Agricultural genomic data, including corn and rice genomic information, will be added in coming months, according to Mark Vincent, vice-president of business development for the company, which describes itself as an integrated genomics-based product discovery and development company.

Users worldwide will be given passwords that will allow them to access and analyze the data using CuraGen's suite of data analysis tools, and securely save their results. Researchers can also apply the software to their own data by providing CuraGen access through their firewalls.

Jonathan Rothberg, CuraGen's founder and CEO, said the company designed GeneScape "to become a standard on which commercial and academic scientists can link worldwide databases to conduct genomics research faster and more efficiently." The portal now open to the public is the same one CuraGen's collaborators have long used behind firewalls to access custom data generated for them by CuraGen. Pioneer Hi-Bred, which has accessed the site through secure T1 lines since it began its five-year relationship with CuraGen in June, 1997, was the first collaborator to have development rights under the GeneScape system. Biogen, Genentech, Glaxo Wellcome, and Hoffmann-La Roche also access versions of CuraTools through the portal. But, Vincent remarked, "this is the first time we've made it public to academics and potential customers."

CuraGen described CuraTools, which is sold only as a part of CuraGen's integrated genomics product discovery platform, as a "secure data analysis toolbox that allows multiple users to analyze and refine genomic data into a practical format."

Lee Babiss, vice-president of preclinical research and development at Hoffmann-La Roche, said GeneScape provides his company's researchers with "access to essential tools for conducting experiments in real time, as a cohesive team, no matter where they are located around the globe."

CuraGen also announced last month that, in collaboration with the Medical College of Wisconsin and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, it has completed comprehensive high-resolution and radiation-hybrid maps of the rat genome. The content is estimated to be greater than 98 percent of the rat genome, with references to more than 3,000 genes and 8,000 genetic markers.

--Adrienne Burke

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