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Thomson Reuters Acquires GeneGo to Provide Pathway Analysis 'Complement' for Life Science Portfolio


By Uduak Grace Thomas

Following its acquisition by Thomson Reuters this week, privately held pathway informatics firm GeneGo is now a part of the global information company's healthcare and science business arm.

Thomson Reuters said that GeneGo's tools and expertise will complement its existing life science products and will provide its clients with a better understanding of the underlying mechanism of disease and potential therapies.

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Joe Donahue, Thomson Reuters' senior vice president for global sales in the life sciences, told BioInform that he expects GeneGo's integration with the larger firm to be "seamless and transparent." He added that existing GeneGo customers will continue to receive products and services from the company.

It will be "business as usual," he said.

Similarly, Donahue expects that GeneGo's existing partnerships with other groups will not be affected by the acquisition.

Recently, GeneGo announced that it had integrated its MetaCore software with the latest version of Agilent's GeneSpring GX bioinformatics suite. GeneGo has also merged its MetaCore and MetaDrug tools with Array Studio, a data-analysis and -visualization software package produced by Omicsoft, for which GeneGo also serves as a distributor (BI 01/08/2010).

Donahue said that all of GeneGo's staff has been absorbed by Thomson Reuters and that there would not be any changes to its operational structure.

GeneGo will also retain its headquarters in San Diego, Calif., as well as its offices in St. Joseph, Mich., and Moscow.

Connecting the Pieces

Thomson Reuters is a massive information services firm that employs more than 50,000 employees across more than 100 countries and generated nearly $13 billion in revenue in 2009.

The company's healthcare and science arm serves pharmaceutical companies, drug discovery researchers, hospitals, and public institutions, as well academic researchers. It employs more than 4,500 people and generated $829 million in revenue in 2009 — approximately six percent of the company's total revenue, with the balance coming from the company's financial, legal, tax and accounting, and media businesses.

Donahue said that the life sciences business focuses on providing "authoritative content" for drug research and development; domain expertise that aims to use both customer and company data to solve research questions and challenges; and a technological component that aims to convert data into useful information. He explained that the company leverages these three areas to help its customers solve challenges in the drug-research and -development pipeline.

Donahue said that GeneGo's products "complement" Thomson Reuters' current life science portfolio, which covers drug pipeline competitive intelligence, patents, and chemistry.

"If you can effectively tie together [GeneGo’s] biological content and expertise on disease mechanisms and pathways with [Thomson Reuters] chemistry and competitive intelligence content, including biomarker information, you can better understand the disease," he said. "At the end of the day, we are trying to increase the likelihood of creating an effective therapy, repurposing existing therapies, or selecting groups of patients most likely to respond to specific therapies."

GeneGo is not Thomson Reuters's first foray into the bioinformatics arena. Its GeneSeq database, for example, contains gene sequences from patents, while its Thomson Reuters Integrity database includes biology, chemistry, and pharmacology data on more than 320,000 compounds, including a biomarker module with curated data on genomic, proteomic, biochemical, and cellular markers.

To this existing portfolio, GeneGo brings "additional biological and pathway information," as well as "expertise" in disease mechanisms and biological pathways that can "connect the pieces together," Donahue said.

"I think we are looking at it from [the perspective of] how [we can] support the challenges that our customers have and what are some of the questions they are trying to answer," he said.

Going forward, Donahue said that Thomson Reuters plans to provide content that spans the entire drug-research and -development spectrum, as well as to work with its life sciences customers in ways that derive "the most value" from the data.

"I think the opportunity for us is how do we take all of that information and leverage it to enable better decision-making [in] research therapy development as well as better assisting clinicians in figuring out how to treat patients," he said. "Not generating specific data in one area and focusing on that, but how do we take all the data that we have and how do we connect it?"

Have topics you'd like to see covered in BioInform? Contact the editor at uthomas [at] genomeweb [.] com.