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United Devices, Strand, Biomax, Roche, Lion


United Devices Readies Compute-on-Demand Partnership Program

Distributed computing firm United Devices told BioInform last week that it is in the process of creating a new partner-based service that will provide on-tap computational power for small to mid-sized life science organizations.

UD CEO Ed Hubbard said the company's current offering — an enterprise-wide grid solution called MetaProcessor — works well for large organizations with thousands of available desktops, but hasn't been practical for smaller biotechs and research groups. Under the upcoming partnership program, UD will harness the extra compute cycles from “large, Fortune 500” firms so that smaller groups can plug in as necessary when they need an extra computational boost.

Users will be charged per cpu-hour, Hubbard said. A final pricing system has not been determined, but he said UD is shooting for ten times lower than the average $3-4 per GHz/hour charged by most supercomputing centers. Donor firms will receive a cut of the revenue from the program.

Hubbard said a large company has already agreed to contribute cycles from 7,000 2 GHz Pentium 4 PCs — the equivalent of a 12,000-node Linux cluster, he estimated — and a UK-based biotech firm is beta-testing the on-demand system.

UD has also signed an agreement with a top-tier pharmaceutical firm to run MetaProcessor on 1,000 desktop machines, Hubbard said. Although he was unable to disclose the name of the company, he noted proudly that the firm was a “long-time Platform customer.” A number of pilot projects are also underway, he added.


Strand Nets $4.6 M in First Round of Funding

Strand Genomics, a Bangalore, India-based bioinformatics startup, said last week that it had secured $4.6 million in a first round of funding led by WestBridge Capital Partners. Other investors include UTI Ventures and angel investors.

Sumir Chadha, senior managing director of WestBridge, will join Strand's board of directors.

The investment “provides a major fillip” to Strand's R&D and marketing efforts, said Strand CEO Srinivasan Seshadri in a statement.

According to the company, Strand is the first “Indian IP-led company” to receive financing from a venture capitalist in nearly a year.


Biomax and Roche Build Online Protein Synthesis Service

Roche Diagnostics and Biomax of Martinsried, Germany, have partnered on a new web-based information system available as a fee-based service from Roche.

The system, called ProteoExpert RTS E. coli HY, is designed to aid researchers using Roche's Rapid Translation System protein synthesis platform.

Users log in at, provide the coding DNA for a desired protein, and the system calculates sequence alternatives that will achieve an increase in expression yield without changing the target protein.

Ten suggestions are provided for improved DNA sequences, along with information about the reaction conditions for producing the corresponding DNA molecules. According to Biomax, which hosts the ProteoExpert server, “the data transfer from the customer to ProteoExpert and vice-versa is subject to strict security measures.”


Lion Signs Two French Crop Science Licenses

Lion Bioscience licensed its SRS and BioScout software to the French crop science company Biogemma as well as RhoBio, Biogemma’s joint venture with Bayer Crop Science, the company said last week.

The companies will use Lion's technology in plant disease research.

RhoBio will use Lion’s SRS system to integrate its disease-related genetic data, while Biogemma will use BioScout to analyze plant gene sequences.

RhoBio, a joint venture begun in April 1998, focuses on Arabidopsis genomics and its applications to crops like maize, wheat, rice, and oilseed rape.

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