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Platform, AxCell, Sun, Virginia Bioscience Incubator


Platform Wins BMS as First Enterprise Grid Customer

Bristol-Myers Squibb has tapped Platform Computing to build one of the world’s largest enterprise desktop grids for life sciences research. Platform’s ActiveCluster grid computing software will be installed on several thousand desktops across research sites in the Northeast United States — the largest production environment running the software to date, according to the company.

Yury Rozenman, director of life sciences business development at Platform, said that the deal is not only a validation of Platform’s technology, but also signals grid computing’s maturation from the “utopian” Internet-based projects of early 2001 to a viable production-ready enterprise option.

BMS selected Platform’s system after evaluating products from Entropia and United Devices, said Richard Vissa, executive director of global core technologies, informatics, at BMS. Vissa said that BMS was “impressed with the technical expertise” at Platform. In addition, he said, ActiveCluster will enable BMS to plug its Linux clusters and Unix servers into the grid if it chooses to in the future.

Platform has tested ActiveCluster with a variety of life sciences applications, including Blast, GeneWise, Smith-Waterman, Fasta, ClustalW, PAUP, Dock, Autodock, Think, GOLD, and Genomining. BMS tested several of these applications on its pilot version of the system, and opted for Dock as its first distributed application.

In addition to the public domain tools Platform has made available for ActiveCluster, Rozenman said the company is actively seeking partnerships with commercial partners for applications in SNP analysis, genotyping, gene expression, and other areas.

AxCell Opts for IBM’s Data Mining Technology

AxCell Biosciences, a subsidiary of Cytogen based in Newtown, Pa., said it plans to use IBM’s DB2 Intelligent Miner, a suite of data mining algorithms under the company’s DB2 database product line, to study protein interactions in cellular communication networks.

In addition to using the DB2 database and Intelligent Miner, AxCell will also use IBM’s DiscoveryLink data integration middleware.

DB2 Intelligent Miner includes algorithms for clustering, prediction, and time-sequence analysis of data. AxCell plans to put the software to work studying sequence-function relationships, and gain knowledge about domain-ligand mediated protein pathways.

Sun Embraces Linux with New Low-End Server Line, SGE Enterprise Edition

Sun Microsystems has joined IBM, Dell, and Hewlett-Packard in supporting Linux in addition to its own Solaris Unix operating system.

Last week, the company announced that buyers of its newest line of servers — the entry-level 32-bit LX50 system — would be able to choose between Solaris and Linux 5.0, Sun’s enterprise-ready implementation of the 2.4 Linux kernel. The company also said that its Sun ONE Grid Engine, Enterprise Edition 5.3 software would support Linux.

The LX50, with a starting list price of $2,795, was designed with an eye toward the needs of the life science market, said Stefan Unger, business development manager of Sun’s Science & Engineering Group. In particular, he said, the server offers a “good balance” between the integer-based performance required for sequence-based analysis and the floating-point performance necessary for molecular modeling. The low power consumption of the system should also be of interest to bioinformatics groups, Unger told BioInform.

Virginia Bioscience Incubator Hosts Fledgling Bioinformatics Firm

Fairfax County, Va.’s BioAccelerator bioscience incubator has signed on a bioinformatics firm as one of its first three client companies.

In addition to two biotech startups that will be housed in the BioAccelerator, OriGenel, which manages outsourced bioinformatics projects, will be a “virtual client.” OriGenel is also creating databases to aid the diagnosis of diseases in select populations.

The incubator, which will open in September in Springfield, Va., is a project of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority and Angle Technology Group. The FCEDA is also sponsoring a competition for British bioscience firms, with a year’s free space in the incubator as the grand prize. Five companies have entered the competition, including Roslin, UK-based Aneda (formerly Edinburgh Biocomputing Systems). The winner will be announced in the fall.


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