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Gene Logic Takes on Software Vendor Role with Launch of Standalone Platform

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Seeking to meet the data management needs of its current customers and widen its user base, Gene Logic said last week that it would launch an enterprise-wide gene expression software product at the BIO 2001 International Conference June 24-27, in San Diego.

The pre-release announcement followed quickly on the heels of Merck’s acquisition of Rosetta Inpharmatics, which has led some industry observers to question the long-term availability of the Rosetta Resolver enterprise-wide gene expression platform.

“We want people to know we’re out there with a solution in this space,” said Mark Gessler, CEO of Gene Logic.

Gene Logic’s standalone platform will allow users to integrate, manage, and analyze in-house gene expression data with external proprietary and publicly available data sources such as GenBank, SwissProt, LocusLink, and UniGene. Users will also be able to use the system to manage clinical information and sample information.

“We found that many customers want to do their own production at their own sites with their own machines. They want to commingle the data in the end with our data or manage it in a separate way and have the ability to share that information across their organization and across geographic boundaries,” said Gessler. “They want to have a central place for that information to be stored and they want standard formats for how that information should be stored along with the sample information.”

The system is based on the data management platform Gene Logic developed to support its GeneExpress database suite, as well as experience gained from software and data integration projects carried out for some of its customers.

Gessler said the new offering would not impact integration partnerships with software vendors Partek, Silicon Genetics, and Spotfire that Gene Logic has embarked upon to expand the analysis capabilities of its database.

The new system will serve as a “backbone” where gene expression information is managed, Gessler said. “On top of that is how you access it with some of our tools. If you want to do more extensive analysis or take sets of genes and associated clinical information and view that information in other packages, we enable that to occur too.”

The standalone software offering is in line with Gene Logic’s effort to establish itself in the market as an “overall solution,” Gessler said. “We’re out there with proprietary content, but along with that we have built a sophisticated IT platform…We’ve been heavily invested in software all along and it’s just been a question of how to best approach the market.”

But while Gene Logic hopes to expand its current market by moving away from its content-provider model, analysts warned that the company should be careful not to stray too far from its gene expression roots.

“The days are past when people get excited about a new bioinformatics tool,” said Eric Schmidt, an analyst with SG Cowen Securities in New York. “I think investors want to see Gene Logic put up the money and put up the revenues. If they can squeeze a couple million out of this new venture, that’s great.”

Gene Logic said the financial guidance for 2001 it provided earlier in the year, which predicted revenues of $41.2 million, reflected the introduction of the new product. Any material financial impact is expected only in future years.

Gene Logic will reveal the name of the new system at its official launch at the BIO conference. It is expected to be available for installation at customer sites in the third or fourth quarter of 2001.

— BT

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