“Semantic integration” may sound like just another marketing catchphrase to bioinformatics veterans who’ve heard it all before, but Synquiry Technologies of Belmont, Mass., said its I-Synthsizer semantic integration infrastructure platform is far from vaporware.
“We’ve shown the system to a number of people at major life science organizations and they said, ‘you’ve solved the holy grail,’” said Alan Bingham, director of sales and marketing for Synquiry.
According to Synquiry, relational and object oriented database structures cannot adequately handle the abstract associations needed to exploit the disparate data types and formats encountered in life science research. Semantic integration, however, uses ontologies to allow abstract relationships to be conceptually associated between and across all the elements of an entire aggregated data set. Bingham said the I-Synthesizer is the first commercially viable semantic integration infrastructure platform to reach the market.
Bingham said the technology could have “profound implications for bioinformatics” because the infrastructure platform provides a foundation for workflow process models that can be imposed on top of the structured data. This capability, said Bingham, is a key step toward true in silico research, and “two evolutionary steps beyond” existing data integration technologies such as IBM’s DiscoveryLink.
The technology was developed with the support of a $2 million Advanced Technology Program grant for “A Programmable Framework Based on Semantic Modeling Components” that began in October 1997.
Bingham said that several life science clients, who he was unable to disclose, are beta testing the system, “and the estimates I’ve had back are that they could save anywhere up to two years in the discovery through the clinical trials process and up to $300 million a drug.”
Bingham said that Synquiry is presenting the system at the next meeting of the I3C as a potential solution to the industry’s integration needs.