deCODE and IBM to deliver technology solution for applying genetics to drug discovery

Reykjavik 23 January 2003deCODE genetics and IBM have signed a strategic alliance to deliver a set of integrated applications, technologies, and services for analysing, managing, and storing genetic, genealogical, and clinical data. Under the three-year agreement, deCODE genetics and IBM will jointly market and sell deCODE's Clinical Genome Miner (CGM) Discovery system running on IBM hardware and software. The deCODE and IBM solution will be available globally to pharmaceutical biotechnology firms, government-sponsored research organisations, research hospitals, and medical care facilities beginning midyear.

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The CGM Discovery system is a proven, statistically-based application for isolating and analysing genes and gene variations associated with particular diseases. It is the same application that deCODE has used in its population genetics research in Iceland to isolate key genes and drug targets in nine common diseases.

The alliance advances information-based medicine, the use of information technology to augment clinical information such as patient records, family histories, and lab tests, for example, with knowledge about the human genome. By understanding illnesses on the molecular level, including gene variations linked to disease or drug response, doctors can make more precise diagnoses and tailor treatment decisions. Also, drug makers can develop more targeted treatment therapies and identify potential clinical trial participants more effectively.

"Through knowledge and technology transfer, this alliance could bring significant business value to drug companies that are under pressure to design better drugs and get them to the market faster", stated Dr. Caroline Kovac, general manager, IBM Life Sciences. "More importantly, by delivering on the promise of information-based medicine, the alliance has the potential to forever change the way medical care is delivered, with better predisposition and diagnostic assessments as well as targeted treatment solutions."

CGM Discovery users can in real time mine their datasets on phenotypes, genotypes, and genealogies, all in the context of deCODE's annotated human and animal genome data. The CGM Discovery system also utilises deCODE's proprietary Identity Protection System, which securely and automatically anonymises clinical and genetic data.

"This alliance represents an important part of our strategy to continue to monetise deCODE's leadership in datamining and human genetics. Through this strategic alliance, we will be offering our products for gene discovery and data protection to research organisations around the globe", stated Dr. Kari Stefansson, CEO of deCODE. "By leveraging IBM's leadership in hardware and infrastructural middleware, we will together provide a highly scalable, customisable, end-to-end solution for the application of genetics to improve drug discovery and health care."

deCODE is using population genetics to create a new paradigm for health care. With its uniquely comprehensive population data, deCODE is turning research on the genetic causes of common diseases into a growing range of products and services in gene and drug discovery, DNA-based diagnostics, pharmacogenomics, bioinformatics, and clinical trials.

deCODE's pharmaceuticals group, based in Chicago, and deCODE's biostructures group, based in Seattle, conduct downstream development work on targets derived from deCODE's proprietary research in human genetics as well as contract service work for pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. deCODE is delivering on the promise of the new genetics.

The IT architecture for the joint solution will include IBM eServer pSeries and xSeries systems running AIX and Linux operating systems, respectively, IBM WebSphere Internet infrastructure software and DB2 database software. The system will be augmented by IBM's DiscoveryLink data integration technology, which uses a federated model to sift through vast amounts of data and deliver search results in a consolidated, consistent format, while leaving the original data and its underlying structure intact.

IBM DB2 Intelligent Miner will provide powerful mining algorithms for uncovering associations, patterns, and trends that can lead to scientific discovery. deCODE and IBM Global Services will offer joint consulting, implementation and integration services for the new solution.

Under the terms of the strategic alliance, IBM becomes deCODE's preferred information technology and services provider for life sciences. deCODE's IT infrastructure includes IBM eServer systems and IBM Enterprise Storage Server, the code-named "Shark" disk storage system. The IBM eServers are based on IBM's next-generation POWER4 microprocessor, a system-on-a-chip containing two one-gigahertz-plus processors, and feature self-healing technologies that can help provide uninterrupted operation, even through major power outages and system failures.

The strategic alliance with deCODE is another example of IBM's commitment to go-to-market with independent software vendors (ISVs) through the PartnerWorld for Developers programme. Under this initiative, IBM has signed agreements with recognised software companies. These alliances target industries such as financial services, retail, health care, life sciences, manufacturing, and solution segments including enterprise resource planning, supply chain management, customer relationship management, and business intelligence.

The goal is to provide developers with access to new customers and revenue opportunities through IBM's marketing, sales, and solutions resources. As part of the agreement, developers commit to lead with IBM's middleware, server platforms, and services in offerings to customers.


Leslie Versweyveld

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