January News Briefs

Elsevier Acquires Ariadne Genomics  

Dutch publishing giant, Elsevier, has acquired Ariadne Genomics, a software provider of pathway analysis tools and semantic technologies for life science researchers, based in Rockville, MD. “Ariadne Genomics’ pathway analysis tools and semantic technologies integrate research findings from across multiple content sources providing a deeper understanding of biological pathways and disease progression,” commented Alexander van Boetzelaer, managing director of Elsevier Corporate Markets. “Ariadne’s products improve research productivity and outcomes for life science researchers by delivering new insights for potential interventions, therapies and cures.” The Ariadne acquisition delivers “an information offering in the biology domain and a passionate and dedicated team of life science professionals,” van Boetzelaer continued. “Ariadne’s team and offerings are a powerful complement to our chemistry, pre-clinical and clinical workflow solutions.”   

IBM, Pharma Donate Chemical Database  

IBM, Bristol-Myers Squibb, DuPont, and Pfizer are providing the National Institutes of Health with a database of more than 2.4 million chemical compounds extracted from about 4.7 million patents and 11 million biomedical journal abstracts from 1976 to 2000. The chemical data should help researchers more easily visualize important relationships among chemical compounds to aid in drug discovery and support advanced cancer research. The data was extracted from patents and journal abstracts using the IBM business analytics and optimization strategic IP insight platform (SIIP,, a combination of data and analytics delivered via the IBM SmartCloud, and developed by IBM Research in collaboration with several major life sciences organizations. The platform uses automated image analysis and enhanced optical recognition of chemical images and symbols to extract information from patents and literature upon publication.  

NHGRI Pledges $416m to Sequencing, Software  

The National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) has announced the latest iteration of its flagship genome sequencing funding program—worth $416 million over four years—that features new initiatives in the search for the underlying causes of rare inherited diseases and accelerates the use of genome sequence information in the clinical arena. “Our goal is to empower all types of researchers and health care professionals to use genomic information in their research and eventually in patient care,” said NHGRI director Eric Green in a press briefing. The bulk of the funding—$86 million in the first year of the plan—will be divided among the three principal genome centers in the United States—the Broad Institute ($35.9 million), Washington University, St Louis ($28.4 million) and Baylor College of Medicine ($21.3 million), under the direction of Eric Lander, Richard Wilson and Richard Gibbs, respectively. 

Thomson Reuters Receives Parkinson’s Grant 

Thomson Reuters has received a grant from The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF) to create and publish the world’s most comprehensive source of biological maps for Parkinson’s disease (PD). The project aims to identify possible causes of Parkinson’s disease by mapping biological mutations of the Leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2) protein, the most common genetic contributor to the disease discovered to date. The maps trace the disease’s biological pathways to pinpoint relevant biomarkers, which are biological molecules that signal an abnormal process or disease. They also support the drug discovery process for treating PD. 

ChemAxon Moves to Budapest 

ChemAxon is moving its European headquarters to expanded offices in Budapest, Hungary. The move will accommodate significant growth over the past few years. “This move marks a key stage in ChemAxon’s evolution,” commented Alex Drijver, CEO, ChemAxon. “Our new headquarters will enable us to serve our customers better and continue our growth across all aspects of the business.” 

MMRC Speeding Up Cancer Trials 

The Multiple Myeloma Research Consortium (MMRC) has been able to accelerate the clinical trials process by making improvements to trial start-up and enrollment as well as patient accrual for oncology clinical trials run through the Consortium. MMRC presented the data in an oral presentation at the American Society of Hematology (ASH) Annual Meeting. Oncology trials are notoriously difficult to set up, enroll, and complete, often taking as long as two years from design to activation. Between May 2006 and July 2011, 25 multiple myeloma trials were conducted with MMRC project management resources. Trials conducted from June 2006 to September 2008 made up a set of baseline trials, with the subsequent trials serving as test cases for the MMRC’s model to accelerate drug discovery. They found that the more recent trials opened 28% faster than baseline trials and enrolled 10% more patients. •

This article also appeared in the January 2012 issue of Bio-IT World magazine.  

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