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EraGen to Offer First Proprietary Sequence Database inGenomeTherapeuticsAlliance

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EraGen Biosciences and Genome Therapeutics have formed a long-term strategic alliance to incorporate Genome Therapeutics’ Pathogenome microbial genomic sequence database within EraGen’s MasterCatalog bioinformatics platform.

The collaboration marks the first proprietary database available through MasterCatalog, which clusters gene sequences into families and also offers data mining and analysis capabilities. MasterCatalog currently offers only public domain data.

The first release of the Pathogenome database through MasterCatalog is planned for April.

Under the terms of the agreement, EraGen has the right to provide Pathogenome through its platform while Genome Therapeutics retains its rights to license the database to third parties. In addition, Compugen retains its right to provide the data through its LabOnWeb web portal. MasterCatalog licensees will have the option of including or excluding Pathogenome, said Ray Kendzior, vice president of business development at Eragen.

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

The deal “really validates our technology,” said Kendzior. “Companies are looking at us to provide not only the data but a suite of powerful tools to do the analysis as well.”

MasterCatalog’s combination of pre-computed analysis and proprietary data mining tools allows researchers to “glean function from the raw data in Pathogenome,” Kendzior said.

Subscribers to MasterCatalog receive data updates and new analysis modules on a quarterly basis. EraGen COO Gary Alianell said the company plans to offer “major revisions,” including new database offerings, at least twice a year.

Alianell expects the next new database to be available in the third quarter of this year. He said EraGen is looking for specialized, industry-specific proprietary data from genomic providers, but declined to comment further on the specific content of potential offerings.

Alianell, who was recently hired as COO, is taking on some of the duties of EraGen’ s former CEO and president, Gideon Shapiro, who recently resigned. Shapiro said he would continue with the company to assist with its business development and financing. “It’ s not a hostile situation,” he said. Shapiro will also remain a member of EraGen’ s board of directors “for the foreseeable future.”

Shapiro said his decision to step down was “a mutual decision for a new direction the company will be pursuing that needs new expertise.”

Alianell confirmed that EraGen is in the process of revamping its strategic plan. The company hopes to expand into new markets — ”Everything from diagnostics to manufacturing facilities for specialized components,” said Alianell — but it also intends to continue to focus on its bioinformatics and nucleic acid product lines in the short term.

“The bioinformatics portion is really the prime product line we have right now,” he said. “The technology shows a very bright future so we’ ll move this forward very, very quickly.”

— BT

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