SANTA FE, N.M.—The National Center for Genome Resources (NCGR) has released its Integrated SYStem (ISYS) software platform—which integrates independent bioinformatic software tools and databases—in an open source version.
"ISYS was never really designed to just be an in-house, proprietary application," observes Susan Baxter, chief operating officer for NCGR. "But were never really sure people really wanted to dig into the code. People say they do, but do they really want to?"
But NCGR had been receiving recent feedback that suggested an open source version was desired, and a partner organization that has helped pay for some of the application's development costs had specifically asked that the source code be made publicly available.
"Basically, the open source allows the entire development community to participate in the evolution of ISYS," Baxter says. "The spirit behind ISYS was to be a customizable, dynamic platform for users. By having interested parties be able to help develop that platform, people can take ISYS in directions we could never have imagined."
Only time will tell how many of those directions will be particularly applicable to the drug discovery community, Baxter says. She admits that drug discovery was never considered one of the major user communities for ISYS, which was created more in consideration for such purposes as plant researchers in the field needing to access genomic data and other information.
"Although drug discovery isn't a particular platform focus for ISYS, though, the purpose of the application is to integrate data from many different locations," Baxter says. "And that's certainly a major issue for drug discovery, having to mine genomic and proteomic and all sorts of other kinds of data from multiple sources."
ISYS, which has been available as a downloadable executable since 2001, uses Dynam-icDiscovery service brokering technology to allow scientists to find paths from one software component to another, according to their particular data sets and components. Java-based Dynam-icDiscovery integrates programs on the user's desktop and allows the integration of Web pages with those programs. Graphical client tools provide alternative perspectives on data through event-based synchronization. In addition, ISYS has a published application programming interface to allow users to adapt their own programs and databases for integration with ISYS.