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Pfizer Partners on Open Source Version of Selventa's Biological Expression Language


Pfizer and Selventa have expanded a long-term partnership to include the creation of a publicly available version of Selventa's Biological Expression Language and associated BEL Framework to inform decision-making for drug targets.

The partners said they plan to establish a community of BEL stakeholders and users and will develop a portal to disseminate the technology to the scientific community.

Pfizer and Selventa (formerly Genstruct) have been collaborating since 2003.

Selventa's BEL is a knowledge representation language that represents scientific findings as causal relationships that can be annotated with information about biological context, experimental methods, literature sources, and the curation process.

During a presentation last month at the Conference on Semantics in Healthcare and Life Sciences, Dexter Pratt, vice president of innovation and knowledge at Selventa, said that BEL has been implemented in the Genstruct Technology Platform for eight years and that the firm plans to release BEL as an open source language in the third quarter of this year.

Following his talk, Pratt told BioInform that offering the tool under an open source license is "consistent" with Selventa's revised strategy, announced last December, when it changed its name and decided to emphasize its role as a data analysis partner for drug developers (BI 03/04/2011).

Selventa said this week that it is in the process of transitioning its technology platform and business model to a more open, standards-based approach in order to enable broad adoption and use of its tools, infrastructure, and knowledge among its customers and the wider scientific community.

Denise Robinson-Gravatt, head of Pfizer's Drug Safety Technology group, said in a statement that "the more we can make broadly available to the scientific community open-source solutions involving non-proprietary research and technology tools, the more we're facilitating innovation to occur."