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BIOBASE coordinates international effort on informatics toolbox
May 2007
by Jeffrey Bouley  |  Email the author


WOLFENBUTTEL, Germany—In a three-year, 3 million Euro deal, life sciences knowledge solutions provider BIOBASE will coordinate a European Union research contract to develop innovative technology to analyze complex disease mechanisms. The project, called Net2Drug, is aimed at creating a toolbox that integrates bioinformatics, chemoinformatics, and experimental methods to identify potential therapeutic targets.

"What we propose is a mainly in silico way of analyzing data, so we hope that will save researchers a great deal of money on their experiment," says Dr. Alexander Kel, senior vice president of research and development for BIOBASE and coordinator of the Net2Drug project. "It should also save them time, as traditional experimental methods are very time consuming compared to using computer tools."
Such an approach will also enable researchers to more confidently select drug targets and efficiently identify chemical compounds that can be directed against such targets, adds Edgar Wingender, the company's president and chief scientific officer.

"Another side of this is that pharmaceutical companies generate huge amounts of data when they do screening and proteomics work and such," Kel says. "So they already have a large amount of data that they sometimes don't know what to do with, and we hope these tools will help them explain and make useful a lot of data that they already have at hand. Net2Drug will integrate different 'omics' datasets such as proteomics and genomics, for example, into cohesive networks to facilitate comprehensive understanding of complex human pathologies."

The Net2Drug project is very much an international endeavor, with a consortium that includes, in addition to BIOBASE, Progenika Biopharma S.L. of Spain, the University of Helsinki in Finland, Fraunhofer Institute für Toxikologie und Experimentelle Medizin in Germany, the University of Göttingen Medical School in Germany, Institute of Systems Biology Novosibirsk of Russia, Institute of Biomedical Chemistry of Russian Academy of Medical Sciences' Moscow Microbiology and Tumor Biology Center, Karolinska Institute in Sweden, and the CNR-ITB Institute of Biomedical Technologies in Italy.

The final toolbox of software and analysis tools is intended to be capable of handling any disease, but is particularly targeted at complex disease, multifactor diseases such as diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases, cardiovascular disease and cancer. In fact, proof-of-concept of the toolbox will be provided by applying the technology to certain tumor types, particularly breast cancer—with which several members of the consortium are very familiar, Kel says.

BIOBASE has financial agreements with all of the project participants outlining how the commercial rewards will be distributed down the line. The company hasn't released any specifics of the individual deals, but Kel says the splits tend to be more or less equal between BIOBASE and its partners.
He adds that his company is interested in perhaps offering Net2Drug at no cost for academic institutions while charging fees to larger pharmas.

"Research interests are driving our commercial interests," Kel says, "and it is sort of our quality or philosophy that science should be first and commercial aspects should come afterward so that we can continue to do more innovative science."
Code: E050708



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