Physiome's simulation of complex cell, tissue and organ models empowered by IBM's eServer supercomputers

Boston 13 August 2001IBM and Physiome Sciences Inc. recently have signed an agreement in which Physiome Sciences will use IBM's next-generation supercomputing technology for research on biological systems, diseases, and potential drug targets. In addition, IBM will license biological modelling technology from Physiome Sciences for its internal use. Physiome Sciences and the University of Auckland in New Zealand, its development collaborator, will receive two of the first shipments of the new IBM eServer POWER4-based supercomputers. The system will enable Physiome Sciences to speed up its current capability to simulate complex models of cells, tissues, and organs, and also to simulate the behaviour of diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and asthma.

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"Physiome Sciences' goal is to incorporate information from protein pathways into computerised models of cells, organs, and disease states, laying the infrastructure for virtual drug discovery", stated Dr. Jeremy Levin, CEO of Physiome Sciences. "Our alliance with IBM will speed this process and enhance our technology capability to develop the leading in silico solutions."

For pharmaceutical and other biomedical researchers using Physiome Sciences' simulation technology, the benefits will include significant time and cost savings, and better predictions about the effects of drug candidates on animals and humans. Users will be able to perform biological modelling which yields proprietary, company-specific insights into drug targets and disease mechanisms. The alliance will enable Physiome Sciences to enhance its product offerings, which include CardioPrism and PathwayPrism. These technology platforms address critical drug discovery requirements in data integration, data analysis and modelling, resulting in better target identification and analysis of effects of novel drugs and drug toxicity.

"IBM's leadership in such areas as high-performance computing and research complements Physiome Sciences' expertise in biological modelling", stated Dr. James Coffin, director, IBM Life Sciences Solutions. "Our complementary strengths will enable researchers to draw on cutting edge technologies to advance medical research and speed up the drug discovery process."

Through the agreement, IBM becomes Physiome Sciences' preferred information technology supplier for high-performance computing, professional services and data integration. In addition, IBM will license the PathwayPrism technology from Physiome Sciences for its internal use. PathwayPrism utilises Physiome Sciences' revolutionary In-SioCell technology for building biological models. Physiome Sciences will write wrappers for its product offerings to run on IBM offerings, including IBM DB2 Universal Database and DiscoveryLink integration software.

Further, IBM and Physiome Sciences will explore research collaborations to integrate complementary technologies in such areas as pattern discovery, gene expression analysis, and signal transduction pathways, which map biological activities within cells. IBM also will work with Physiome Sciences to promote open standards such as the CellML, an XML-based language to develop computer models of cells, tissues, and organs.

Designed to provide industry-leading performance for both commercial and technical workloads, POWER4-based systems will feature ground-breaking new technologies, such as the world's first computer chip containing two processors; more than an order of magnitude improvement in bandwidth over today's systems; and a new method of connecting devices that dramatically increases scalability by combining the benefits of leading architectures for server communications.

Physiome Sciences Inc., a privately held Princeton-based company, is an expert in the commercial development of software tools, proprietary databases, and Web applications for simulating biological processes. This biological operating system can be harnessed to model cells, tissues, and organs, in a virtual setting, enabling scientists to generate predictive information using their own data. Drug developers, for example, already use Physiome's operating system and models to predict the effects of specific drugs on animals and humans.

This greatly speeds the selection of drugs for entry into human trials. The selection process becomes more rational and potentially increases drug quality at an early state of development. The CellML language was developed as an open standard that is available free of charge to all users. Additional information can be obtained by visiting the CellML Web site.


Leslie Versweyveld

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