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Japan's World Fusion Expands Business with US Office Launch

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Japanese bioinformatics and cheminformatics firm World Fusion has opened an office in San Diego and is seeking customers for its portfolio of software and database products and services for drug discovery, genomics research, and data mining.

Among its offering is the Life Science Knowledge Bank (LSKB), a platform the company first launched in 2008 that provides access to chemical and biological data gathered and curated from more than 20 public databases using proprietary technology that compresses big datasets and optimizes data mining to provide rapid results to researchers' queries. For biological uses, it provides information on interactions between chemical compounds and genes, data on genes and variants — generated with both microarrays and next-generation sequencing instruments — and it contains dictionaries of diseases that cover symptoms, tissues, proteins, compounds, and relevant genes.

The chemical component of LSKB provides access to more than 60 million chemical entries and annotations from public resources, such as the Protein DataBank and ChEMBL. It supports drug discovery and chemical research efforts by providing users with the ability to explore interactions between chemicals and proteins. In both cases, users have the option to integrate information from internal experiments into the system and analyze it alongside public data. To gain access to the data, companies are charged a negotiable annual licensing fee, Yoko Suzuki, the company’s vice president of operations and technical engineer, told BioInform

A separate service that the company offers to its cheminformatics customers is the ability to link LSKB to Accelrys' Pipeline Pilot software for customers who have licensed both products. Through this service, the company offers protocols and components for setting up and performing very specific tasks using the combined product, including compound structure searches, retrieving molecular framework summaries, and more.

Headquartered in Tokyo, World Fusion first opened its doors in 1998, serving as a distributor of imported products for the drug discovery and biotechnology market and also developing its own solutions for the space. In the last two years, the company has sold licenses to LSKB to more than 20 drug development research institutes and pharmaceutical companies in Japan. And now it is looking to expand globally. It opened its US office last June and has hired one full-time employee and one part-time person and has plans to hire more, according to Suzuki.

As it works to secure customers in North America, World Fusion will have to compete with companies like NextBio — now owned by Illumina — whose platform includes a repository of public and private data containing information from genomic studies, molecular profiles, reference genomes, and clinical trial results that supports pharma and biotech, as well as academia and clinical laboratories. However, the company believes that its product's ease of use and the speed with which it returns results are factors in its favor, Suzuki said. Also, LSKB has done well in the Japanese market, so the company believes there is a good chance it will also be well adopted in the US, she added.

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