New blueprint "blueprints" protein interactions in BIND database to accelerate drug discovery

Ottawa 30 May 2001A new, not-for-profit organisation, blueprint WORLDWIDE INC., has been established, along with the unveiling of the world's first public Biomolecular Interaction Network Database (BIND). Founded by IBM and MDS Proteomics, blueprint will administer the BIND database, which is a comprehensive source of protein interactions that trigger chemical reactions in the body causing healthy or diseased cells. The BIND database enables researchers to easily find the quality data required to speed the development of new medicines, benefiting consumers, increasing patient well-being, and creating tremendous value for research-based companies.


With support from a consortium of leading international health organisations, blueprint is poised to become the definitive source of biomolecular interaction data. Supporters include the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute (SLRI) at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto; the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI); the European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI); the Canadian Genetic Diseases Network (CGDN); the National Research Council (NRC); and the Institute of Genetics, Institute of Cancer Research and Institute of Neurosciences, which are all part of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) family.

The mapping of the human genome was a watershed, opening the door to profound scientific research. Researchers now understand the need to take DNA sequences to the next level of proteomics to provide a comprehensive understanding of the causes of diseases and identify specific targets for treatment.

blueprint's BIND database builds upon other public biological databases such as NCBI's GenBank, generating a "living" database of all bioinformatics and biomedical data. It is designed to help the global scientific community move toward a complete description of how molecules interact and control cellular life. The BIND database initiative was spearheaded by three of the world's leading scientists in the areas of bioinformatics and cell signalling: Dr. Tony Pawson and Dr. Christopher Hogue, both researchers at the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute, and blueprint's Managing Director (Designate) Mr. Francis Ouellette, who spent five years working on GenBank and who is currently the director for CMMT's Bioinformatics Core Facility, Children's and Women's Health Centre of British Columbia, UBC.

"The study of biomolecular data is essential to developing better medicines to treat diseases. The management of this data is of critical importance. blueprint will play a key role in supporting researchers worldwide by providing a centralised collection for growing volumes of scientific data on proteins, RNA and DNA interaction data", stated Mr. Ouellette. "While GenBank provides researchers with the crucial list of parts with some annotations, blueprint provides the assembly diagram, a blueprint of how all of the parts fit together. Using blueprint's BIND database, researchers will have easier access to critical biomolecular data in one place, fostering accelerated discoveries worldwide."

As a not-for-profit entity, blueprint currently is governed by a board consisting of Mr. Frank Gleeson, chief executive officer and president, MDS Proteomics; Dr. Tony Pawson, senior scientist, Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute; and Dr. Caroline Kovac, vice president, IBM Life Sciences. Moving forward, blueprint will be run by a Board of Directors representing the organisation's four member classes: the scientific community, a commercial sponsor, a non-governmental sponsor, and a chair elected by the board.

"Today, it takes up to fifteen years and approximately 750 million Canadian dollars to develop each drug, taking it from discovery to market. We look forward to expediting this process. blueprint will enable MDS Proteomics and other researchers around the world to develop innovative treatments for disease more rapidly and cost-effectively", stated Mr. Gleeson.

The BIND database uses IBM technology as its infrastructure for processing, storing, and managing biomolecular data. The configuration includes a cluster of powerful IBM eServer systems, which are running UNIX and IBM's DB2 Universal Database, Shark disk storage system, and Tivoli systems management software.

"With a potential for a million or more proteins in the human body, we are looking at an enormous increase in the amount of data and the computational complexity, compared to genomics", explained Dr. Kovac. "The IBM technology behind the BIND database is designed for computing performance of this magnitude and will scale to meet future needs."

In addition to cash and in-kind contributions from IBM and MDS Proteomics, blueprint also received funding from the Institute of Genetics, Institute of Cancer Research and Institute of Neurosciences, which are all part of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) family, and the Canadian Genetic Diseases Network (CGDN). In the future, blueprint will seek funding from governmental, non-governmental, as well as commercial organisations. The BIND database can be accessed through the blueprint Web site.

Leslie Versweyveld

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