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InforMax Strikes Deals to Speed Processing and Offer Genomic Data

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OCKVILLE, Md.--Bioinformatics software developer InforMax has announced two new partnerships that will enable it to offer customers faster genomic-data processing capabilities as well as licenses to human genome and transcriptome data generated by researchers at France's leading scientific research institute, National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS). InforMax has also been retained as a bioinformatics consultant to the French institute, for which it will establish a bioinformatics infrastructure at a new European Center of Excellence.

According to a deal struck late last month, InforMax will begin offering its enterprise bioinformatics system GenoMax with a certified interface to TimeLogic's Decypher genomics analysis accelerator. GenoMax already employs client-server architecture, Oracle relational databases, and a Java-based graphical user interface to enable genomic researchers to quickly and securely conduct high-speed analysis of public and proprietary databases. Tom Gillick, director of business development for InforMax, told BioInform that integrating GenoMax with the Decypher will enable analysis "orders of magnitude faster."

Jim Lindelien, CEO of TimeLogic, called Decypher the "smart alternative to huge server farms." Gillick said he expected that within a year the deal would be worth "in the $1 million-plus range" to InforMax, whose salespeople will begin offering the Decypher to customers.

InforMax CEO Alex Titomirov, who founded the company in 1990, called the partnership "a natural part of our High Throughput Research architecture," which he said provides tools to analyze and manage increasingly large amounts of genetic data. Later this year, InforMax intends to introduce a series of new GenoMax modules for analyzing gene expression, single-nucleotide polymorphisms, and protein-protein interactions, and for EST clustering, genome viewing, and 3-D structure prediction.

InforMax claimed that more than 13,000 researchers worldwide use its products, including the Vector NTI wet lab simulation software.

Consulting to CNRS

In a second new deal, InforMax agreed to install by midyear a bioinformatics platform at a new European Center of Excellence for molecular genetics and developmental biology research being built by France's CNRS in Villejuif.

InforMax will provide the center with consulting services and technical support and install its GenoMax and Vector NTI software products on Compaq Alpha servers, on which the center will house a genomic database. InforMax's tools will become available for use by scientists involved in joint research with CNRS across Europe, and InforMax will gain exclusive rights to commercialize new content generated by the center, Gillick explained.

Charles Auffray, head of the CNRS, said he selected InforMax's GenoMax product in part for its ability to efficiently integrate enormous amounts of diverse data. Auffray's group has established a method for curating, annotating, and clustering sequence and gene mapping information, and has amassed a collection of diverse structure and expression data for tens of thousands of human genes.

Using cDNA clones generated by the international IMAGE (Integrated Molecular Analysis of Genomes and their Expression) Consortium, Auffray's lab created the Knowledge Base of the Human Genome and Transcriptome, representing most human genes and their transcripts across various tissues and cells. That database contains integrated sequence, map, and expression data to help researchers identify structural, positional, and functional candidate genes for specific biological functions and pathologies. InforMax said it would sell data it licenses from the Knowledge Base.

--Adrienne Burke

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