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Digital Gene Technologies Releases Netscape-Based TOGA Browser 1.1

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LA JOLLA, Calif.--Digital Gene Technologies, a bioinformatics and genomics company here, has released version 1.1 of its Netscape-based TOGA Browser user interface, which is expected to improve user access to the company's patented Total Gene expression Analysis (TOGA) bioinformatics package. TOGA identifies and determines the concentration of nearly all of the genes active in a cell or tissue sample and offers a new approach to defining the function of the genes comprising any genome, according to Digital.

"With TOGA Browser the researcher can now instantly integrate TOGA gene expression profiles from his own experiment with the wider resources of the 'biological web,'" including GenBank, Medline, the NCBI databases, or other proprietary services, said Robert Sutcliffe, Digital's president and CEO. Digital's partners can access TOGA Browser via a proprietary network.

"The TOGA Browser represents a key component of the informatics package developed for use and adaption by our research partners in exploiting the differential gene ex pression data generated by TOGA," Sutcliffe added. "From the very first set of results, a researcher can now assess the relative gene expression behavior of any gene present in an experiment and, at the same time, determine where the gene or its message has been seen before or, indeed, if a potentially novel species has been encountered."

In other news, Digital has raised $4 million from private investors to develop a new cell biology facility that will be located beside the company's current laboratories. It will give Digital full capacity for characterization and experimentation on gene candidates identified using TOGA.

"Both the investors and the company saw an opportunity to capitalize on compelling early TOGA results through the launch of a cell biology facility," observed Gregor Sutcliffe, chairman of Digital's scientific advisory board. The company was formed in 1995 to apply technology based on research conducted in Sutcliffe's lab at the Scripps Research Institute here. Its business objectives are to develop gene-expression-based research protocols with strategic partners and to offer services including access to proprietary databases and new gene discovery.

Finally, the company has made several staffing announcements, including naming Matthew Kalnik as vice-president of bioinformatics. "Matt Kalnik's informatics team will integrate sophisticated statistical analysis, modeling, and visualization tools with our proven TOGA platform to enable comparative analysis of complete expression maps, thus enhancing the ability of our partners to establish functional models by elucidating critical genetic networks and identifying the pivotal targets," remarked Robert Sutcliffe. "The combination of TOGA's ability to detect and systematically tag the entire expression profile of a given tissue, including rare single and low copy messages, with the new generation of comparison and data mining tools developed by Dr. Kalnik and his team, will expand DGT's contribution to the pattern and function modeling exercises our partners are pursuing."

Kalnik previously held management-level positions with bioinformatics software provider Molecu lar Simulations, including director of partnering and collaborative projects, life sciences, and director of macromolecular design and structural biology. A number of internal promotions were also announced. Karl Hasel, formerly vice-president of scientific affairs, was named chief scientific officer; Thomas Griffin, former vice-president of finance, was named chief financial officer; and Jayson Durham, senior computer scientist, was named director, bioinformatics--data analysis tools and GUI development. Durham led the development of the TOGA Browser.

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