Open biology

NextBio expands search engine and launches free public access

Amy Swinderman
CUPERTINO, Calif.—NextBio, a life science search engine provider, recently announced it has made several additions to its content base, including new human disease mutation and mouse knockout data sets, and has launched a free, public version of its software package.

According to NextBio, its new offering integrates common human gene mutations and mouse gene knockouts associated with diseases such as cancer and neurological and metabolic disorders into its search engine of more than 1.2 billion scientific data points. The company has also upgraded its query capabilities and added enterprise security and new application programming interfaces.

"Scientists don't have a tolerance for false positives, so for the last three years, we have been testing the system to make sure it is a very mature product that never crashes," says NextBio Co-Founder and CEO Saeid Akhtari. "It's as secure as a bank and Google-fast."

NextBio users can search for genes, pathways, diseases, tissues and compounds for humans, mice, rats, flies, worms and yeast. Indexed from more than 16 million abstracts in the public domain, NextBio content includes preprocessed data from public resources such as NCBI Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO), ArrayExpress and the Stanford Microarray Database (SMD). Individual organizations and users also contribute data to NextBio and share the data with other community users.

NextBio makes searching user-friendly with an auto-complete function, then uses a combination of proprietary, rank-based statistics and various meta-analysis techniques to compute the most significant genes and biogroups associated with a search.

The free version of NextBio enables users to search life sciences data and literature, import and correlate an unlimited amount of their own private data if it is made public to the community, and bookmark and share study results.

The free offering is part of NextBio's "open biology" philosophy, which Akhtari says allows researchers to search all available life science information, share data and collaborate.

"We firmly believe that the search of public data should be free. Our goal is to make NextBio an invaluable resource for every researcher and clinician in the world," he says.

NextBio also provides a subscription-based, premium version of its product accessible in a private and secure enterprise domain. NextBio's enterprise customers—which include researchers and clinicians at Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research & Development LLC, Celgene, Genzyme, Eli Lilly and Co. and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, among others—can input large-scale data and share it internally on a secure, customized domain while correlating it to public data.

By becoming a registered user of NextBio, researchers can import their own experimental data into the NextBio search engine, share it with the community and collaborate with others, Akhtari says.

"We hope this will enable consortiums of different researchers to take science to much higher level, while saving a lot of time and money," Akhtari says. DDN

Amy Swinderman

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