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Linking Biomarkers to Pathway Analysis Marks First Step in Thomson Reuters, GeneGo Integration


By Uduak Grace Thomas

News and information provider Thomson Reuters this week shed some light on how it plans to integrate with GeneGo, the pathway-informatics firm it bought late last year (BI 12/03/2010).

The company said it has added content from its biomarker database to GeneGo's MetaCore pathway-analysis software and database that it inherited with the GeneGo purchase. The biomarker data is drawn from Thomson Reuters' Integrity compound database, a comprehensive compound database that also includes information on more than 7,000 biomarkers.

The Integrity data will give MetaCore users access to the names, types, and roles of its biomarkers and genes.

The additional data will provide "deeper insight into potential biomarkers identified in MetaCore, including previous utility, extent of research already performed, and level of confidence in that biomarker," the company said.

MetaCore already contains some biomarker data and Thomson Reuters said it expects the new content to enhance it because of its own validated biomarkers, which have been sourced from scientific literature, patents, and clinical trials, among other resources, Colin Williams, director of product strategy at Thomson Reuters, told BioInform.

MetaCore is a web-based, proprietary, manually curated database supported by proprietary ontologies and a controlled vocabulary. It comprises human protein-protein, protein-DNA, and protein-compound interactions, and metabolic and signaling pathways for human, mouse, and rat.

Integrity and MetaCore are linked by the latter's export function, which queries Integrity's biomarkers and provides users with a list of hyperlinks relevant to their search.

"What our customers were looking for is ... an end-to-end solution for biomarker-discovery workflows and [were asking,] 'How do I validate those biomarkers quickly?'" Williams said. "MetaCore will give the context of the biological entity in the pathway and the disease, whereas Thomson Reuters' Integrity will give that biomarker context within the world of what's validated in a drug-discovery environment."

Customers can access MetaCore either via its web portal or by installing the resource internally. Thomson Reuters said it plans to continue this model with the combined content and provide the same support familiar to its clients.

This means that enterprise users will receive access to the enhanced content in the same way that they have historically received updates to their in-house MetaCore installations.

Williams didn’t provide specific details about pricing, but said that MetaCore's current "business model will remain the same."

Beyond biomarkers, Integrity contains biology, chemistry, and pharmacology data on more than 340,000 compounds with demonstrated biological activity, and almost 160,000 patent family records.

Thomson Reuters said it hopes that the combined resource will appeal to translational medicine researchers, or groups looking for potentially druggable biomarkers.

"Biomarker research is a very important area ... and I think the industry is really looking for a solution that helps them to identify and validate biomarkers effectively and quickly," Williams said. "I think the combination of the two products … can really help that."

While firms like Ingenuity also offer pathway-analysis software, "the combination of the biomarker-discovery capability of MetaCore and the biomarker-validation capability in the Integrity product, is really a unique solution in the market," Williams said — one that he believes no other company offers at present.

The company manually curates its data to ensure high quality, and "that quality is critical and is an underlying tenant to our business," said Williams. "I think that’s where [we] are always seen as a leader in the market and that’s how we intend to stay and how we intend to grow."

Thomson Reuters has not provided any further details about its integration plans for MetaCore and other products in the GeneGo portfolio.

Have topics you'd like to see covered in BioInform? Contact the editor at uthomas [at] genomeweb [.] com.