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The Gladstone Institutes link with Alitora Systems to develop advance knowledge systems

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SAN FRANCISCO—Using software dubbed the Memomix InnovationNetwork, the J. David Gladstone Institutes and Alitora Systems will worktogether to develop advanced software technology that facilitatesorganizational collaboration with the goal of accelerating the discovery andevaluation of new drugs. Alitora Systems' Memomix is provided assoftware-as-a-service and uses semantic technology to search document anddatabase information in a single collaborative network. The Gladstonecollaboration will assist in enhancing Alitora's product offerings forbiotechnology and pharmaceutical discovery and development.

The J. David Gladstone Institutes is an independent,nonprofit biomedical research organization affiliated with the University ofCalifornia, San Francisco, comprised of separate operations that focus oncardiovascular disease, virology and immunology and neurological disease, Dr.Bruce Conklin, a senior investigator at the Gladstone Institute ofCardiovascular Disease, explains. His group has been working with datavisualization for 10 years as an academic process.

Since both Gladstone and Alitora use open-source software,the collaboration is expected to be seamless.

"Meaning-based search technologies reveal valuable, closelyrelated information which is not easily found through regular search orcollaborative strategies," notes Alitora CEO Peter Berger. "We hope to bringrelevant data to the forefront for researchers and decision-makers who are bestpositioned to use this information to accelerate development."

Unlike traditional search technology, Alitora findsinformation based on relevant meaning, not just keywords. This can reveal newinformation from previously published work and contribute to progress incurrent research studies. The work with Gladstone will focus on gene pathwaydata, Berger and Conklin emphasize.

"We want to analyze the whole genome, proteome andexpression," Conklin states.

Beyond that, the goal is to include not only geneticinformation, but related chemistry, disease, IP and corporate information aswell.

As an example, Memomix allows the user to search the Web for"breast cancer," by moving its icon to a clipboard. The user can then drilldown and filter for a specific gene— for example, RAD51 and then link to BRCA2,which binds to RAD51—all the time selecting and preserving information ofinterest. Or, the user can select "Boehringer Ingelheim" and "Genentech," whichare displayed as two information clusters joined by a single common bridge,which—in this case—is rheumatoid arthritis. Again, this information can beadded to the clipboard and then shared with any number of individuals or teamsvia the Internet.

"Throw-away data in one area of research, may be a criticalfactor in another," Conklin says. "These tools can be used to findintersections in science that can significantly improve the pace of discovery."

With the current cost of developing a successful drugestimated at $1.2 billion, both Gladstone and Alitora hope to contribute to thecurrent drive to bring down the cost of healthcare and find more effectivetreatments for disease.

"Inside companies as well as out in the scientific world,there is a wealth of research information that begs to be applied to aparticular project," Berger said. "The key is to use meaning to connect theright data with the right people, helping them find something they don'talready know."

The Gladstone-Alitora collaboration will be ongoing, with Conklinjoining Alitora Systems as a member of its advisory board to serve along withformer officers of Pfizer and Scios. In addition, Alex Pico, a Gladstonebioinformatics software engineer, plans to join Alitora as its chief scienceofficer. To help fund the collaboration, the partners have applied for a SmallBusiness Innovation Research grant.  

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