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Scientists Reluctant to Order Products Online, Corn Genome Data, UK Cancer Bioinformatics Platform, EMBL to use IBM Technology, Geospiza, IDBS, Optive


Survey Says Scientists Reluctant to Order Products Online

A number of life science product firms are beefing up their online ordering capabilities with bioinformatics tools in order to attract new customers [BioInform 03-15-04], but results from a recent survey indicate that scientists aren’t rushing to e-commerce portals to order their products.

According to the report, “How Life Scientists Buy Products: Implications for Effective Channel Management,” from market research firm BioInformatics LLC, scientists still place around 50 percent of all orders for lab products via traditional methods — phone, fax, mail, or e-mail. For 21 percent of the 1,400 researchers who participated in the survey, these “old technology” options are the only purchasing methods used.

“The scientists surveyed indicated that they use supplier web sites extensively throughout many stages of the research and purchasing process with the exception of the last important step — placing an order,” the report found.

Scientists acknowledged that there were advantages to purchasing products via supplier web sites — including order tracking, advanced search capabilities, and easy order entry — but many survey respondents said they continue to order via traditional methods “because of limitations set by their organization’s purchasing procedures, reservations about hidden costs, and difficulty in navigating the supplier’s web site.”

According to the report, Sigma-Aldrich, Fisher Scientific, and Invitrogen were most frequently cited as the suppliers with web sites that provide customers with the best overall ordering experience.

Ag Firms Agree to Share Corn Genome Data

The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) last week announced that Ceres, Monsanto, and DuPont subsidiary Pioneer Hi-Bred International had agreed to add their in-house maize genome sequence data to the sequence information available in the public domain.

The data will be available through a searchable database that will be hosted at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, a not-for-profit research institute. To gain access to the data, scientists must complete a licensing agreement that will be downloadable on the NCGA Web site,

NCGA estimated that the availability of the privately generated sequencing data could allow the corn genome to be completely sequenced by 2007 — “years ahead of when it would have been completed without this initiative,” according to the trade organization.

UK Plans Cancer Bioinformatics Platform

The UK’s National Cancer Research Institute said last week that it plans to establish a bioinformatics platform for sharing cancer research data.

The initiative, announced in Nature, complements an ongoing project by the US National Cancer Institute called Cancer Biomedical Informatics Grid, or caBIG [BioInform 11-03-03].

NCRI said it plans to develop common vocabularies, ontologies, data models, and security standards to standardize and share cancer research data. As a first step, the NCRI is working on a joint data-sharing policy.

Both the European Bioinformatics Institute and the NCI will be involved in the project.

EMBL to use IBM Technology for Cellular Modeling Center

The European Molecular Biology Laboratory’s newly opened Center for Advanced Cellular Modeling and Simulation will be built upon an IBM IT infrastructure, IBM said last week.

The new center, launched in mid-February with €7.5 million ($9.6 million) in funding, was founded by the German Cancer Research Center, EML Research, EMBL, the Max Planck Institute of Medical Research, and the University of Heidelberg.

Through an IBM Shared University Research award, IBM will provide software and hardware systems to the center, and will also collaborate on research projects, including a modeling project to map how cells interact with proteins and a simulation project to represent the organization of fibers and proteins in animal cells.

The EMBL technology infrastructure includes a Linux-based IBM eServer BladeCenter server.

Wyeth, Trubion Opt for Geospiza’s Finch

Geospiza said last week that Wyeth and Trubion Pharmaceuticals will use its Finch Sequencing Center software.

Wyeth last week said it had completed a rollout of the Enterprise Edition of the software across its discovery sites. Geospiza said it worked with Wyeth’s sequencing groups for nearly three years to improve their sequencing data management strategies and integrate the software into the company’s existing processes.

Trubion, a Seattle-based biotechnology company, is using the Finch Sequencing Center on a smaller scale, to manage sequencing data from a single four-capillary sequencer.

IDBS Signs New Clients in Australia

Life science data management firm ID Business Solutions (IDBS) last week announced three new deals in Australia for its ActivityBase software suite.

CSIRO Molecular Science (a division of Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization), the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, and drug discovery firms Alchemia and Cerylid Biosciences have adopted ActivityBase to manage chemical and biological drug discovery data, the company said.

Financial details of the agreements were not provided.

Optive Signs New Benchware Customers

Optive Research last week said it had signed on a number of new biotech and pharmaceutical clients for its Benchware desktop computational chemistry software.

New customers include Infinity Pharmaceuticals, Structural GenomiX, Schering AG Group, Boehringer Ingelheim Pharma, and WuXi PharmaTech.

Optive did not provide financial details for any of the agreements.


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The Scan

Genome Sequences Reveal Range Mutations in Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells

Researchers in Nature Genetics detect somatic mutation variation across iPSCs generated from blood or skin fibroblast cell sources, along with selection for BCOR gene mutations.

Researchers Reprogram Plant Roots With Synthetic Genetic Circuit Strategy

Root gene expression was altered with the help of genetic circuits built around a series of synthetic transcriptional regulators in the Nicotiana benthamiana plant in a Science paper.

Infectious Disease Tracking Study Compares Genome Sequencing Approaches

Researchers in BMC Genomics see advantages for capture-based Illumina sequencing and amplicon-based sequencing on the Nanopore instrument, depending on the situation or samples available.

LINE-1 Linked to Premature Aging Conditions

Researchers report in Science Translational Medicine that the accumulation of LINE-1 RNA contributes to premature aging conditions and that symptoms can be improved by targeting them.