WALTHAM, Mass.--Genome Therapeutics' CEO Richard Gill said he considered other online options before deciding to make his company's PathoGenome database available on LabOnWeb.com, Compugen's web-based research engine that was launched late last year.
In the deal announced last week, Compugen became the seventh subscriber to Genome Therapeutics' proprietary database of microbial genomic data and gained exclusive rights to license it over the internet. Gill said Compugen would pay an annual "six to seven figure" subscription fee to Genome Therapeutics, and that LabOnWeb customers will access the data on a pay-per-use basis. Individual user fees will vary according to each user's status and the depth of access requested. Genome Therapeutics and Compugen will share revenues generated by those fees.
Gill told BioInform that several factors influenced his decision to make a deal with Compugen after considering other online portals: "We absolutely took a look at the space. Compugen's site is up and running and attracting the type of researchers we wanted access to. We wanted to get PathoGenome in front of a large group of scientists and we wanted to hit the ground running."
Gill said the deal provides Genome Therapeutics with new ways to penetrate the genomics research market. For one, if several scientists from one company begin hitting LabOnWeb for PathoGenome data, that company's management might be persuaded to invest in a full companywide subscription. Gill said that giving individual users access to data through LabOnWeb could also lead to broader relationships with pharmaceutical companies. "We build our business through pharmaceutical alliances. The hope is that they'll see the quality of our data and want to contract for sequencing," he said.
Lior Ma'ayan, general manager for LabOnWeb, also noted that the site is reaching users in some places more far-flung than Genome Therapeutics' reach. "Large numbers of users are coming from Europe and the Far East, with researchers from China and Japan leading," Ma'ayan said.
"That's superb global reach," remarked Gill, who said Genome Therapeutics' current customers are primarily in North America and Europe.
Ma'ayan added that LabOnWeb has been accessed by close to 1,000 establishments, more than 40 percent of them commercial companies, and the balance academic and research institutes.
LabOnWeb differs enough from other online research portals that "we are able to live in the same world," Ma'ayan contended. For instance, he said LabOnWeb is not an "e-commerce" site, but a research site. "In internet lingo, we're more an ASP (application service provider) model and less a portal model. Our aim is not to take the customer somewhere else; it's to do experimental work through our capabilities."
Once Genome Therapeutics' database has been posted to LabOnWeb, which Ma'ayan said could be a few weeks, users will be able to interrogate it using Compugen's Leads bioinformatics analysis platform and cross reference it with Compugen's proprietary data and gene expression data from Genzyme Molecular Oncology, with which LabOnWeb recently collaborated.
Ma'ayan called Compugen's data deals "part of our strategy to integrate essential data with our analysis capabilities."