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Terra Soft, Sony, Schering, ABI, Intertek, BioAnalyte, Cerner Integrates, Visual Technologies, TranSenda, MicroSoft

Terra Soft, Sony Target Bioinformatics for First Cell-Based Compute Cluster
IT systems provider Terra Soft said this week that it is building a life science supercomputing cluster with the new Cell processor that underlies Sony’s upcoming PlayStation 3.
The company said that the cluster, which is expected to be operational before the end of the year, will be the first built around the Cell processor.
The announcement follows the recent launch of a version of Stanford’s Folding@Home client that runs on the PS3. [BioInform 10-06-06].
Terra Soft said that it has been working with Sony Computer Entertainment since 2005 to develop and manage a supercomputing cluster built upon Linux and the Cell Broadband Engine, which was developed by Sony, Toshiba, and IBM. The company said that it has recently completed construction of a new 3,000-square-foot supercomputing facility and that it will now begin to construct a test cluster and a “substantially larger” production cluster based on the Cell.
The company plans to run its Y-Bio suite of bioinformatics applications on the test cluster, and said that the production cluster “will be made available to select university and Department of Energy laboratories to further life sciences research.”
According to Terra Soft, the Cell Broadband Engine’s multi-core processing environment allows certain code to function “at a superior level of performance over traditional single or dual-core CPUs.”
Thomas Swidler, director of R&D at SCEI, said in a statement that the cluster is “a means of demonstrating the diversity of the PS3, taking it well beyond the traditional role of a game box.”
Separately, the University of Manchester said this week that it has become an early-access customer for IBM's BladeCenter QS20 system, which is built with Cell processors, for use in its bioinformatics, molecular modeling, and engineering programs.
"We are early adopters of the IBM Cell BE system because it has the potential to give us significantly improved performance, take up less space, and consume less power," Terry Hewitt, director of research computing at the University of Manchester, said in a statement.
The signing of the MoU also marked the creation of the IBM-Manchester Partners Programme. The initiative identifies key staff to partner with IBM towards future opportunities for collaborative research. The program also identifies areas of overlapping strategic importance for course delivery and future outreach activities

Schering Commissions Inpharmatica to Create Kinase Knowledge Base
Schering has commissioned Inpharmatica to create a chemogenomics database for the human protein kinase gene family, Inpharmatica said this week.
Schering has obtained a multi-year, multi-user license to the database, called the Kinase SARfari knowledge base.
Financial terms were not disclosed.

ABI Submits TaqMan Assay Data to PharmGKB
Applied Biosystems has released into the public domain the validation data for its TaqMan drug metabolism genotyping assays, the company said this week.
The data, which was submitted to the Pharmacogenomics Knowledge Base hosted at Stanford University, is aimed at helping researchers understand how genetic variation among individuals contributes to differences in reactions to drugs.
Researchers can use the data on validated genotyping assays available in PharmGKB to “expedite the design and execution of genetic studies correlating genotype to drug efficacy or toxicity,” said Teri Klein, director of the PharmGKB project, in a statement.
Applied Biosystems also said studies show that its TaqMan assays provide higher accuracy than other methodologies in identifying variations in genes that code for drug metabolism enzymes.

Intertek Licenses BioAnalyte's ProTrawler for LC/MC Analysis
Intertek Caleb Brett has licensed the ProTrawler solution from BioAnalyte for high-throughput metabolomics operations, BioAnalyte said this week.
Intertek will implement the LC/MS software solution in its Manchester, UK-based pharmaceutical and biotechnology laboratory.
ProTrawler brings “increased throughput, detection sensitivity, processing consistency, and mass accuracy to the data-analysis process,” Brian Powell, senior scientist at Intertek, said in a statement.
Financial details were not disclosed.

Cerner Integrates, Will Distribute Visual Technologies’ Genetics Software
Health IT firm Cerner said this week that it has signed an agreement to distribute Visual Technologies’ Visual Data Explorer life science software and integrate it with its own tools.
Cerner will market the software to customers in clinical laboratories, academic clinical researchers, university genetic research centers and consortia, biotechnology and biopharmaceutical companies, and government laboratories.
Visual Data Explorer allows users to store, organize, and mine patient demographics, clinical and phenotypic data, genotypes, and pedigrees.
"With Visual Data Explorer, our clients will be able to interact with data extracted from their Cerner systems on a very intuitive level," said Mark Hoffman, director of genomics strategy at Cerner, in a statement.

TranSenda Joins MicroSoft’s BioIT Alliance
Clinical trial software firm TranSenda said this week that it has joined the BioIT Alliance — a consortium of industry partners created in April with the aim of improving biomedical information technology on the Microsoft platform [BioInform 04-07-06].
Microsoft selected TranSenda to join the BioIT Alliance “because of its continued excellence in using Microsoft .NET-based technologies to build process-based, integrated solutions,” the company said.

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