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Gentech to Enter Bioinformatics Market with Mac-Based Analysis and Visualization Software

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Gentech, a French plant biotechnology, said it plans to introduce its first bioinformatics product, Biotechnix 3D, in the second quarter of 2001.

Biotechnix 3D was developed to organize and analyze DNA and protein sequences and to visualize protein structures in three dimensions. It is Mac-compatible, requiring Mac OS 8.5, an Apple G3 computer or better with at least 64 Mb RAM, and 10 Mb of free hard drive space. Alaa Khashoggi, Biotechnix CEO, said that the company has no plans to develop a PC version of the software.

“The Mac is widely used in biological research,” Khashoggi said. “We have created software that specifically utilizes all the new Mac operating system features.”

The company said it intends to leverage the bioinformatics capabilities it has developed for its in-house activities to meet the growing demand for bioinformatics software.

“Gentech has already intensively used Biotechnix 3D internally for the company’s work in plant biotechnology,” says Khashoggi. “Therefore we know the software has a proven ability to significantly aid discovery in biotechnology.”

Khashoggi expects bioinformatics products to eventually represent over 30 percent of the company’s revenues.

Several laboratories are currently carrying out beta tests on the software, and Khashoggi said there are a number of prospective buyers.

Biotechnix 3D is an out-of the box system that incorporates several research tools and provides direct links to database and sequence analysis sites. According to Gentech, it reduces the number of different software packages required for each stage of the analysis process, reducing analysis time and increasing productivity.

“Gentech has carried out numerous studies on the bioinformatics market,” Khashoggi said, “and these have shown us that there is substantial interest in software such as Biotechnix 3D.”

A demonstration version of the software will soon be available on the company’s website (www.gentech.fr). The selling price has not been fixed yet, though Khashoggi said it would be priced “aggressively” to compete in the market. The cost for commercial entities will vary according to the number of licenses purchased and Gentech will offer special pricing for public research institutions.

Khashoggi said that Gentech is already working on its next bioinformatics package, though he declined to offer further details on the upcoming product.

—BT

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