Pop-up informatics

Robust SaaS workspace accelerates and streamlines collaborative drug discovery for virtual teams

Lloyd Dunlap
SAN DIEGO, Calif.—Accelrys Inc., a scientific enterpriseR&D software and services company, has purchased the web-based Hit ExplorerOperating System (HEOS) from SCYNEXIS Inc.
 
The HEOS purchase is the final phase of a relationship thatstretches back a half-dozen years and evolved into a strategic agreement thatbegan in 2011, when Accelrys became a HEOS reseller as a key offering withinAccelrys' cheminformatics suite of software applications.
 
Cloud-based HEOS enables more efficient and streamlined drugdiscovery collaborations, particularly for organizations leveraging academicdepartments, research institutes and contract research organizations inexternalized R&D projects. Enabled by Accelrys applications, HEOS is aproven software as a service (SaaS) workspace that accelerates and streamlinescollaborative drug discovery by providing secure, real-time access to chemicalregistration, biological assay results, computational and visual analytics,safety assessment, pharmacokinetics data and other project information in thecloud with minimal IT overhead and effort.
 
In addition to being attractive to Big Pharma, whichincreasingly prefers to outsource elements of the discovery and developmentprocess, HEOS can be brought up in extremely challenging environments—Africa,for example—in as little as 24 hours, with minimal training, says AccelrysPresident and CEO Max Carnecchia.
 
"With little IT support needed," Carnecchia points out,"rare and neglected diseases can be supported in parts of the world that lackfacilities and bandwidth."
 
 
As is true in general of SaaS configurations, sign-up andlog-in can happen within 24 hours. To provide a secure, high-throughput hostingfacility, Accelrys is partnering with British Telecom, which currentlymaintains cloud-hosting facilities in 200 countries and has 500 employeesdedicated to its life-sciences operation.
 
 
Matt Hahn, Accelrys' senior vice president and chief technologyofficer, notes that as a cloud-based product, HEOS was of interest to Accelrysfollowing the introduction of its Contur ELN earlier this year. Like HEOS,iLabber Cloud offers a rapidly deployable, zero-install, cloud-based ELN forgroups with limited IT resources.
 
 
SCYNEXIS will continue to operate as a contract researchorganization from its Research Triangle Park, N.C., headquarters. The HEOSproduct has existed within the company's firewall, Carnecchia notes, but willnow be moved to its new host's facility. About a dozen SCYNEXIS personnel willjoin Accelrys and be responsible for the transition and ongoing operations froma new North Carolina facility. Carnecchia declined to cite a dollar value forthe transaction.
 
 
"HEOS supports an important new operating model forcollaborating organizations that require secure, flexible informationmanagement and collaboration with global reach," says Carnecchia. "As many ofour customers move to multisite, multicollaborator projects to accelerateinnovation and reduce costs, we look forward to broadening the applicabilityand reach of HEOS as a secure, easy-to-use, cloud-based information managementworkspace for the wider scientific community."
 
 
HEOS has already securely captured hundreds of thousands ofcompounds and millions of assay test results in a broad range of globalpharmaceutical and biotechnology programs ranging from early discovery topreclinical projects. A worldwide network of organizations is currently usingthe system to capture, consolidate and harmonize data used in the study ofneglected diseases.
 
 
Accelrys' solutions are used by more than 1,300 customers inthe pharmaceutical, biotechnology, energy, chemicals, aerospace, consumerpackaged goods and industrial products industries. Accelrys employs more than200 full-time doctoral scientists. The company's Accelrys Enterprise Platformprovides a broad, flexible scientific solution optimized to integrate thediversity of science, experimental processes and information requirementsacross the research, development, process scale-up and early manufacturingphases of product development. By incorporating capabilities in applicationsfor modeling and simulation, enterprise lab management, workflow and automationand data management and informatics, Accelrys enables its customers toorganize, analyze and share data to enhance innovation, improve productivityand compliance, reduce costs and speed time from lab to market.
 
 

 
Accelrys inkssoftware-licensing agreement with Gulf Coast Consortia
 
 
SAN DIEGO—Accelrys Inc. announced June 4 that it signed afive-year licensing agreement with the Gulf Coast Consortia (GCC) forQuantitative Biomedical Sciences to provide investigators in the GCC ChemicalGenomics (GCC-CG) program with access to scientific software, services andtraining. The Accelrys software will be used to support multidisciplinarycollaborative research and training programs for the treatment and preventionof diseases, including rare and undertreated cancers.
 
 
Offered through the Accelrys Academic Program, the licensedsoftware includes the scientifically enabled, enterprise-scalable AccelrysEnterprise Platform supporting multicenter, collaborative information sharingand scientific innovation across partnering research organizations. The systemalso includes Accelrys Pipeline Pilot (the platform's scientific authoringsolution), the Cloud-based Accelrys HEOS drug discovery information managementworkspace, the Accelrys Discovery Studio modeling and simulation applicationand Accelrys Biological Registration software.
 
"Large, interinstitutional cooperatives focused oncollaborative research and interdisciplinary training represent a new operatingparadigm in academia today," said Accelrys Senior Vice President and ChiefTechnology Officer Dr. Matt Hahn. "Accelrys' unifying Enterprise Platformdefines a new standard in integrated research informatics for multicentercollaborations. The software package tailored for GCC and delivered throughAccelrys' Academic Program provides immediate access to shared state-of-the-artsolutions, enabling university partners to hit the ground running with projectdelivery."
 
 
"Plug-and-play deployment and ease of use in a seamlessintegrated network requiring minimal support by internal resources were thedriving factors that led our group to adopt Accelrys technology," said GCC-CGdirector and co-founder Dr. Peter Davies, professor and director of the Centerfor Translational Cancer Research's Institute of Biosciences and Technology atTexas A&M Health Center. "With upwards of 30 projects a year, we need towork together efficiently and generate results quickly with minimal time andresources spent on internal software development. The ability to createPipeline Pilot Web applications that can be freely shared with other academicresearchers inside or outside the consortia provides a significant collaborationand innovation benefit."
 
"For several years, our assay development efforts andscreening program have always had a sizable high-throughput microscopy-basedemphasis using Pipeline Pilot-based imaging tools. We are extremely pleased tonow be able to integrate high-content analysis/screening data and reportingacross the entire program using HEOS," said Dr. Michael Mancini, associateprofessor in the department of Molecular and Cellular Biology at Baylor Collegeof Medicine, and co-founder/co-director of the GCC-CG.
 
 
The mission of the GCC is to build and supportinterdisciplinary collaborative research teams and training programs in thebiological sciences and apply the resulting expertise and knowledge to thetreatment and prevention of diseases. The GCC brings together preeminentprincipal investigators from several world-renowned research institutionsincluding founding members Baylor College of Medicine, Rice University, theUniversity of Houston, the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston(UTHealth), the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and theUniversity of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.
 
 
In addition to the GCC founding institutions, the GCC-CGincludes the Methodist Hospital Research Institute, the University of Texas atAustin's Texas Institute for Drug and Diagnostic Development, Texas A&MHealth Science Center's Institute for Biosciences and Technology, TexasSouthern University and the University of Texas-El Paso.
 
 
 

Lloyd Dunlap

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