Dutch Supercomputer Center SARA and GigaPort assist Glaucus in developing high throughput proteomics tools

Utrecht 24 April 2002Glaucus Proteomics BV has entered into agreements with SARA, a Dutch supercomputing facility, and GigaPort, a next generation Internet initiative which provides a state-of-the-art broadband network, also hosted in The Netherlands. These agreements are expected to provide the biocomputing capacity and connectivity to help with the development of novel tools and technologies for high throughput proteomic analysis and the rapid screening of antibody and small molecule drug candidates for improved specificity.


Proteins are the main functional components of cells, and understanding how proteins function and their involvement in disease is one of the major challenges facing the life sciences industry today. As the analysis of proteins is complex, Glaucus Proteomics is developing a novel suite of products and technologies, including protein and antibody biochips which will perform this task in a high throughput manner with high sensitivity.

"Genomics and proteomics will transform the search for new medicines into an information driven science. In order to understand the causes of human disease, high performance computing is essential and must, therefore, be an integral part of the business strategy of Glaucus Proteomics", stated Professor Ian Humphery-Smith, Chief Scientific Officer at Glaucus Proteomics. "It is a great privilege to align ourselves with SARA and GigaPort who are able to provide us with the expertise and infrastructure necessary for our IT intensive task via an out-sourced, cost-effective and reliable model."

These alliances make Glaucus Proteomics an integral part of the SARA supercomputing system. Under the terms of the agreement, Glaucus Proteomics will:

  • utilise the capacity of the SGI Origin 3800, TERAS, the national supercomputing facility of The Netherlands. TERAS is a 1024 CPU system consisting of two SGI Origin 3800 512 CPU systems with a maximum performance of 1 Tflop (1012 floating points operations) per second and a number of other high performance computing solutions;
  • tap into already optimised software that is instantly functional, avoiding an otherwise lengthy lag phase linked to making new hardware operational;
  • receive accelerated high-end assistance with parallel code optimisation;
  • access remote data back-up infrastructure elsewhere in The Netherlands;
  • obtain remote systems management for Glaucus Proteomics' in-house computing needs;
  • be connected to SARA by the extreme broad-bandwidth of the GigaPort network, SURFnet5. A dedicated dual optic dark fibre to the nearest GigaPort node is in place. Access will now be provided through a 1 Gigabit per second connection, and will be expanded to 10 Gigabit per second.

"SARA will provide an important and complementary role as a high-quality service centre and provider for bioinformatics", commented Dr. Anwar Osseyran, Managing Director of SARA Computing and Networking Services. "Extraordinary amounts of data are being produced in today's life sciences. Converting data into knowledge and insight requires high-performance computing and advanced visualisation techniques, a pre-requisite of the collaboration with Glaucus Proteomics, in order to achieve rapid knowledge discovery in proteomics. Our ability to supply these services has already been demonstrated through our successful operation and support of the national supercomputer of The Netherlands and the operation and support of the GigaPort high-performance research network."

These agreements will allow Glaucus Proteomics to characterise the specificity and cross-reactivity of its collection of fully human antibodies. These antibodies will be an essential element in the antibody arrays currently under development at Glaucus Proteomics and will enable the detection and tracking of human proteins or the proteome, associated with health and disease. Glaucus Proteomics will also identify surrogate biomarker patterns. These are expected to prove useful for building drugs better suited to the needs of individuals rather than populations.

Glaucus Proteomics is an emerging biotech company developing a new generation of antibody and protein array technologies to accelerate and optimise drug development and disease management. The company's initial focus is to employ protein arrays to rapidly screen therapeutic candidates for target specificity, thereby enhancing their likelihood of clinical success. In April 2001, the company entered into an alliance with Medarex and GenMab for the use of the HuMAb Mouse to generate human antibodies. These human antibodies form the basis of additional therapeutic drug candidates in Glaucus Proteomic's future pipeline. The company was founded in July 2000 in Utrecht, The Netherlands, and currently employs 30 people.

Founded in 1971 in The Netherlands, SARA has developed into a national centre of expertise in supercomputing, high-performance networking, and ICT infrastructure management. SARA supports science and businesses with the processing of large-scale calculations and the visualisation of complex data for fundamental and applied scientific research into, amongst others, weather forecasting, environmental research, climate modelling, computational fluid dynamics, chemistry, and physics.

In 1985, SARA was made responsible for the housing and system management of the Dutch national supercomputer, which is financed by the Dutch Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). SARA also provides housing for several other supercomputers of Dutch universities. Since the inception of the SURFnet IP network in 1989, SARA has been responsible for the technical and operational management of this broadbandwidth network for the Dutch universities and science centres and educational institutes. From the earliest period, SARA has been closely involved in the Internet developments in The Netherlands.

In 1996, SARA was also selected as one of the four locations for housing and support of the Amsterdam Internet Exchange (AMS-IX), one of the biggest Internet Exchange Points in Europe. SARA offers facilities for the housing and systems management of many Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and telecom operators (Telcos) that are connected to the AMS-IX.

The GigaPort project is an initiative launched by the Dutch government, Dutch higher education and research and the Dutch business community. The initiative's aim is to create the opportunity for The Netherlands to gain a lead in the development and use of the most advanced innovative Internet technologies and thereby contribute to the Next Generation Internet. This project consists of two parts, GigaPort Network and GigaPort Applications.

SURFnet is a partner in the GigaPort project and responsible for the GigaPort network. The SURFnet backbone, SURFnet5, provides speeds up to 10 Gigabit/s. It also provides international connections to Europe with speeds of at least 2.5 Gbit/s and transatlantic connections of at least 2 Gbit/s, executed in close co-operation with similar initiatives abroad known as the "Next Generation Internet Projects". SURFnet5 encompasses improved network access through the employment of technologies such as Fiber to the Home and wireless services.

The GigaPort Applications project creates an environment in which educational, research centres and companies can develop and test new ICT applications. The research topics include networked business, collaborative support, content engineering, and Internet middleware technologies. In these areas, knowledge is generated and applied in concrete projects together with companies, educational institutions, hospitals, etc. GigaPort Applications is realised by Telematica Instituut.

Leslie Versweyveld

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