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By John Blau,
IDG News Service

Sept. 9, 2002 | DÜSSELDORF, GERMANY - Biomax Informatics AG has launched a human genome database that is both automatically and manually annotated, the company announced last month.

The database, aimed at life scientists, contains comprehensive automatic annotation as well as the results of extensive and consistent manual annotation performed by around 30 Biomax biologists, says company spokesman Stephen Soehnlen.

Annotation is essentially the identification of putative protein structure and function, and other important genomic information.

"One of the key advantages of our database compared, say, to the public human genome database Golden Path is that ours offers both automatic and manual annotation," he says. "We have our own staff of biologists manually check data to refine or add information."

Soehlen says another advantage, particularly when compared with the rival database of the Celera Genomics Group, is price. "With Celera, you're talking at least $10,000 a year to license the database," he says. The Biomax database range starts at $500 a year for academics and from $1,500 a year for institutions, Soehlen says.

Celera Genomics Group of Rockville, Md., is an operating unit of Applera Corp. of Norwalk, Conn.

What further differentiates the Biomax database from rivals, Soehnlen says, is that it "offers scientists the possibility to find all the information in one place without having to go to other databases."

The Biomax human genome database uses publicly available sequence data. The genes are identified automatically with the FGENESH++ gene modeling software developed by Softberry Inc. in Mount Kisco, N.Y. Biomax has an exclusive commercial license for the software.

Each gene is verified by Biomax biologists using a systematic process of manual annotation, which includes refining functional information and adding literature references and other details not covered by the automatic annotation software.

The Biomax human genome database is a client-server system, which users access via the Internet from Biomax servers or as a locally installed enterprise system allowing organization-wide access.

Biomax Informatics, based in Martinsried, Germany, near Munich, was founded in 1997 as a spin-off of the GSF-MIPS academic research group, now known as the German Research Center for Environment and Health-Institute for Bioinformatics (GSF-IBI).

John Blau writes for the IDG News Service Düsseldorf Bureau.

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