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Viaken Systems, IBM, United Devices, Accelrys, Europroteome, Phase-it, Xpogen, Inpharmatica, Serono


Viaken Officially Closed

Viaken Systems has formally ceased operations, former CTO Steve Gardner reported via e-mail to BioInform last week.

In November, an unidentified source close to the company said that all employees at Viaken Systems Acquisition Company — the vestiges of Viaken following its decision to sell off its IT hosting business to Apex Digital Systems in June — had been terminated without notice [BioInform 11-11-02].

Now, Gardner said, the UK and US businesses have been closed and “negotiations over the sale of intellectual property and the liquidation of the UK company should be completed within the next month.”

Some former employees are still looking for work, Gardner said, but “most have now found at least temporary positions.”


IBM, UD, Accelrys Embark on Smallpox Research Grid Project

IBM, United Devices, and Accelrys launched a project last week to link over 2 million desktop computers to discover potential anti-smallpox drugs.

Users can download a screensaver from in order to participate in the project, which runs Accelrys’ LigandFit docking program. United Devices’ MetaProcessor platform will aggregate the idle power of participating servers, PCs, and workstations, while IBM is contributing eServer p690 systems, its Shark Enterprise Storage Server, and DB2 database software. The DB2 database will handle 15 million SQL queries a day to manage data provided by the millions of computers analyzing billions of virtual drug screens using a library of 35 million potential drug molecules and several protein targets on the smallpox virus.

Additional participants include the University of Oxford, Essex University, and the Robarts Research Institute, who prepared the targets for use with LigandFit and provided the project’s large molecular library, and the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, which will manage the project for the Department of Defense.

Results from the effort, called the Smallpox Research Grid Project, will be delivered to the United States Department of Defense, the companies said.


Europroteome Acquires Phase-it

Europroteome of Hennigsdorf, Germany, has acquired Heidelberg-based Phase-it intelligent Solutions in a cash and stock transaction, the companies said last week.

Phase-it, founded in 2000 by two former Lion Bioscience employees, will remain in Heidelberg, and its existing collaboration with the German Cancer Research Center will continue. Former CEO Peter Wiesner and former CFO Thomas Hoffmann will support the integration process as consultants.

The acquisition, described as a “friendly takeover” in a statement, stemmed from an existing collaboration between the two firms. Europroteome said it intends to incorporate the data mining capabilities of Phase-it’s technology into its OncoAssist system for identifying colorectal cancer patients with high mortality risk.

“It got a bit tight for us as a standalone bioinformatics company, so we sold Phase-it to Europroteome,” Wiesner wrote in an e-mail to BioInform.


Xpogen Sells Two PathlinX Licenses

Cambridge, Mass.-based Xpogen said last week that it has licensed its PathlinX 3.0 microarray data analysis software to two academic institutions: Sloan-Kettering Institute (the research arm of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center), and McLean Hospital (a teaching and research facility of Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital).

Agnes Viale, manager of the Genomics Core Lab at Sloan-Kettering Institute, said in a statement that her group would use the software to integrate clinical and research data and classify cancers through the identification of new markers.

At McLean Hospital, researchers will use PathlinX to uncover differences in gene-to-gene relationships between healthy and diseased brain tissues for schizophrenia research, said Francine Benes, director of the Laboratory of Structural Neuroscience.


Inpharmatica Expands Serono Collaboration

London-based Inpharmatica said it has expanded a two-year collaboration with Serono that it began in July 2001 for the discovery of novel therapeutic proteins and drug targets.

Inpharmatica, whose PharmaCarta technology platform sits at the core of the collaboration, successfully delivered more than 100 novel proteins to Serono, and the companies have agreed to apply the platform to additional protein families and proprietary genomic sequence data.

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