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GeneData Gets Big Pat on the Back as Byk Gulden Licenses $5M-$10M in Software

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GERMAN pharmaceutical company Byk Gulden has contracted to use GeneData’s entire bioinformatics platform, making it the software company’s most comprehensive deal yet.

The agreement, which spans a minimum of three years, is valued at between five million dollars and $10 million. Until now, the typical size of a deal for GeneData has ranged from $300,000 to $1.5 million.

Under the terms of the deal, GeneData of Basel, Switzerland, will sell a wide range of its bioinformatics and genomics tools to Byk Gulden as well as work with the pharmaceutical company to meet its specific needs.

According to Barbara Massury, a spokeswoman for Altana, Byk Gulden’s parent company, GeneData will provide software tools and services such as updates, installations, development, and customization for bioinformatics and genomics. The bioinformatics company will also provide scientific consulting for the pharma’s research programs.

“GeneData has a suite of software tools that perfectly fit our current research activities in genomics. Especially the Phylosopher platform for genome comparison, [which] is very useful for selecting possible targets in antimicrobials and other research areas of interest to Byk Gulden,” said Massury.

She added that GeneData’s Expressionist system with the CoBi Oracle database is a mature platform for gene expression analysis.

Byk Gulden’s main products are therapeutics and diagnostics, with an emphasis on pharmaceutical research for gastrointestinal and respiratory tract diseases.

GeneData’s bioinformatics platform includes GD Phylosopher, a software tool that aims to help identify gene and protein function based on sequence information, GD Expressionist for the analysis of gene expression data, GD Impressionist for large-scale interpretation of protein and metabolic data, and GD WorkBench for viewing gene sequences.

Byk Gulden initially signed a limited contract with GeneData last year, although, according to GeneData, the pharma unit planned to expand it to its present scope. First, the pharma licensed Phylosopher, followed by contracts for Expressionist and WorkBench.

Massury declined to say which other bioinformatics companies were evaluated by Byk Gulden.

Andreas Hohn, director of business development and marketing at GeneData, said that Byk Gulden is the first pharma to use GeneData’s products in such a comprehensive way.

Hohn said that striking a deal with smaller pharmaceutical companies is generally easier than with larger entities.

“With the larger players it’s more difficult because they have several different sites that all need to be tied into a deal,” said Hohn.

Typically GeneData negotiates deals for certain parts of genomic research like gene expression or genome analysis. “It’s very unusual that a company has decided to make us their main bioinformatics provider. So it’s really a new kind of arrangement that we have,” said Hohn.

GeneData has wanted a deal of this scope ever since it was founded in 1997, said Hohn, but it took several years to convince clients that GeneData’s business model and software were sound enough to keep the company viable over the long run.

The company will help Byk Gulden analyze genomes in the context of infectious agents. “It’s a combination of providing software tools but also having expertise in how to filter the data and find novel antibiotics targets with the relevant pathway information,” said Hohn.

The bioinformatics unit is also advising Byk Gulden on hardware platforms so that the pharma can build a bioinformatics infrastructure that can then be linked with that of GeneData.

GeneData already is integrating its systems with those of Byk Gulden. An ongoing project involves linking GeneData’s genomic data with Byk Gulden’s clinical data, said Hohn.

Besides Byk Gulden, GeneData’s customers include Aventis, Bayer, and Novartis.

GeneData is hoping to expand its staff from 35 to 50 within the next year, said Hohn. The company currently has 30 bioinformaticists.

—Matthew Dougherty

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