InfoSys RISes to meet Elan’s informatics needs

Company to deploy informatics system to aid Elan’s drug discovery programs

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FREMONT, Calif.—Infosys Technologies Ltd. recently announced that it will design and implement its Research Informatics System (RISe), a unified collaborative system that inventories and tracks the performance of biological entities, at Elan Pharmaceuticals to accelerate the company's drug discovery research efforts. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Elan's drug discovery research programs rely on molecular biology, target assessment, preclinical pharmacology, medicinal chemistry and HTS experiments. These hypothesis-driven experiments utilize and screen biological materials and chemical compounds. There is a plethora of chemical compounds, plasmid constructs, cell lines, target proteins, reagents and buffers, columns and transgenic animals to choose from. To add to this complexity, each of these individual entities has an ancestry or multiple derivatives.

Presently, Elan has a primitive system of records that enlist and track all biological entities. An updated electronic system of record exists for managing the company's chemical compound registry and inventory. This disparity in tracking biological and chemical impacts future experiment types, such as binding affinity studies of chemical inhibitors in cell-based assays.

The current project will leverage RISe to build a system of records for a diverse set of biological entities and manage its inventory and performance. Novel ways to unlock disparate data spread across in-house research labs and other commercial or public sources will be presented to scientists in context of their research needs. This will result in, among other things, a customized registry as well as an inventory and a workflow management system for biological entities.

Ajay Shah, director of research informatics at Elan, says his company is confident that partnering and collaborating with Infosys will create a comprehensive informatics platform for Elan's discovery research needs. For Elan, a neuroscience-based biotechnology company, finding the right partner for this collaboration started in 2009, when the company entertained proof-of-concept proposals from several vendors, Shah says.

"These vendors were chosen based on their reputation and ability to deliver projects in research informatics. We also considered their ability to leverage knowledge in other industries," says Shah. "Based on the proof-of-concept implementation, we used a multi-dimensional metrics to select Infosys as the vendor."

Elan and its research partners could realize significant gains in research productivity by focused and efficient selection of candidate drugs or biologics with the new RISe, Shah says. Linking silos of heterogeneous data will not only contribute to a more effective selection process of biologics but could also reduce time to validate them clinically. The new system will also reduce time spent on registering and experimenting with bio-entities, increase collaboration and reduce chances of downstream failure.

Under the terms of the agreement, Infosys will be free to commercialize the basic underlying platform and retain ownership of co-developed IP as part of the implementation.

RISe supports the workflow of laboratories that create biological entities with laboratories that run assays to test their performance. The system allows registry of entities and its attributes, adds stocks to an inventory and further manages it, and enables users to search and generate reports. The system fetches information from data access layer or other interfacing applications via services.

"To maximize extensibility in a research environment, the database combines Entity-Attribute-Value design for flexible definition of entities, efficiency-prioritized OLTP schema for inventory management, and a planned ETL interface to a semantic database," says R. Arun Kumar, head of Infosys' global life sciences practice. "The system is built out of Microsoft products including a SharePoint interface, and will be available with the scientific community this year."

Future versions of the software may integrate RISe with electronic lab notebook and analytical dashboards, Kumar adds.

"Elan's vision to create a scalable research informatics system for scientists to collaborate better dovetails perfectly with our investments in solutions that improve scientific innovation and our efforts to streamline discovery research," Kumar adds.

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