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Genops Forges Two Partnerships to Ready Ngene


Genops Bioinformatics, a year-old startup based in Vancouver, BC, Canada, has entered into two strategic partnerships as it gears up to launch its flagship product, Ngene, by the end of the year.

The company will partner with fellow startup Zerosum, a bioinformatics infrastructure provider based in Seven Valleys, Penn., to provide access to Ngene through a network of Bioinformatics Infrastructure Operations (BIO) Centers that Zerosum is building.

Genops also scored a major coup by signing on Samsung Corp. as its exclusive marketing and distribution partner for Ngene in the Asian market. Under the revenue-sharing partnership, Samsung will spearhead sales, marketing, and customer relations for Ngene in the region and will also provide high-performance hardware and consulting services.

Samsung’s prominent position in the Asia information technology market “will serve as a springboard for future product development and growth strategies in the area,” said Genops CEO Han Yu.

Financial details of the two agreements were not disclosed.

Yu described Ngene as an “entry-level” bioinformatics sequence analysis solution. The system offers the same types of applications as enterprise solutions like InforMax’s GenoMax, he said, but will be priced “on the magnitude of a thousand dollars instead of tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

Ngene relies on Linux clusters rather than the expensive mid- to high-range server systems and Oracle databases that other commercial bioinformatics packages require, Yu said. Programs such as Blast, Hmmer, and Genscan have been optimized to run on the distributed system and integrated into the Ngene user interface.

While the company’s initial target market is small to medium biotech companies and academic labs that are unable to afford high-throughput bioinformatics solutions, Yu said the platform is powerful enough to interest larger companies as well.

Yu said that a Hmmer EST search on a 4-cpu Compaq ES40 would run about five to six minutes, but the server alone would cost close to $500,000. Ngene can achieve comparable speed on a 32-node Linux cluster, he said, which would cost approximately $150,000.

“Most research labs want to implement a bioinformatics infrastructure because they want the security and the performance guarantee, but they can’t buy the big servers. With a lower-end solution like Ngene they’ll get similar performance at about one-fifth to one-tenth the price,” Yu said.

Ngene is available through Genops’ servers in ASP format or it can be installed locally behind a firewall. Yu said he hopes to partner with other bioinformatics portals and infrastructure providers such as Zerosum in order to expand the potential market for the system.

Genops is a subsidiary of PanGenomics, a Korean biotech incubator that provided the company’s seed funding. Genops, PanGenomics, and Samsung are collaborating on a computing center in Korea, which should be online by early October. Yu expects an evaluation version of Ngene to be launched once the center is fully operational.

Genops is currently seeking its second round of funding. “Things are moving quickly and we’re looking for many, many good things to happen over the next few months,” said Yu.

— BT


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