GeneGo is awarded Phase II NIH grant for in silico assessment of drug metabolism and toxicity

St. Joseph 08 August 2005GeneGo Inc., a provider of databases, software and services in systems biology, has received a Phase II SBIR grant from the National Institute of General Medical Science. The grant enables the further development of a computational tool MetaDrug to improve the prediction of ADME and Toxicology properties of novel small molecule compounds.


"MetaDrug is the very first systems pharmacology platform in the market, designed primarily for small molecule discovery programmes at drug companies and academic centres. Building this benchmark platform, we relied on customer feedback and our own vision for the field. Now, we are very glad that NIH agrees with our development goals", stated Julie Bryant, Vice President, business development. "Our customers particularly like the flexibility of the system which makes their version of MetaDrug specific to their chemistry space and informatics environment. We will continue working in this direction. New funding will also allow us to expand applicability of MetaDrug in other areas of biological effects of drug action such as pharmacogenomics, prediction of side effects and new therapeutic indications."

"This funding will enable us to expand the scope of MetaDrug integrating predictive algorithms for ADME/TOX properties, and add a database of ligand-protein interactions from other species, in addition to humans", stated Dr. Sean Ekins, Vice President of Computational Biology, GeneGo. "We will develop large in vitro datasets for drug interactions with key human cytochrome P450s that will be used to build predictive algorithms to complement those currently in MetaDrug. We also intend to integrate a novel algorithm for metabolite prediction that will allow us to highlight the important metabolites. Our approach to understanding the potential for interactions using predictive algorithms and our core strength of database generation and gene network algorithms represents a novel system for in silico assessment of drug metabolism and toxicity."

GeneGo is a Michigan-based company developing systems biology technology for life science research. The company's original computational platform, MetaCore, allows integration and analysis of different kinds of experimental data including mRNA expression, proteomics, metabolites, phenotypic data etc., and relevant active chemistry such as metabolites, drugs, other xenobiotics, within the framework of biological pathways and networks.

GeneGo's first product, MetaCore, assists pharmaceutical scientists in the areas of target selection and validation, identification of biomarkers for disease states and toxicology. GeneGo's second product, MetaDrug, is a pioneering Systems-ADME/TOX platform, which combines software for predicting metabolites and over 40 ADME/TOX properties with visualization and analysis of toxicogenomics and metabolomics data. MetaDrug can be used as a stand alone product or together with MetaCore, GeneGo's flagship analytical platform. MetaDrug is designed for medicinal chemists, computational chemists, bio-analytical, drug disposition and toxicology scientists, and enables prediction of metabolites and their likely toxicity in humans.

MetaDrug features maps, pathways and networks for human proteins related to ADME/TOX. It is a database of small molecules with kinetic data for human drug metabolizing enzymes, proprietary algorithms for rule-based metabolite prediction, highlighting of reactive metabolites, >40 QSAR models for ADME/TOX properties, descriptors relevant to ADME, parsers for importing data from all major micro-array platforms, SAGE, proteomics and metabolomics data, two proprietary network building algorithms, flexible visualization, and data exchange tools.

MetaCore features a comprehensive set of maps, pathways and networks for almost all known human proteins, parsers for importing data from all major micro-array platforms, SAGE, proteomics and metabolomics data, seven proprietary network building algorithms, flexible visualization and data exchange tools.

The University of California San Diego (UCSD) has expanded licenses of MetaCore, GeneGo's platform for mining and visualization of high-throughput experimental data in the context of biological networks, pathways and diseases. MetaCore will be utilized in Schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, HIV associated neurodegeneration and Hep C infection projects as well as in the core micro-array facility to explore gene expression profiles of psychotropics.

MetaCore enables concurrent visualization and analysis of gene expression, proteomics and metabolomics data in multiple formats including LocusLink, Genbank, RefSeq, All Affymetrix arrays tags, OMIM, Unigene, SwissProt as well as other approved gene symbol IDs. MetaCore's content is manually curated and species specific. MetaCore is an easy to use programme that can be accessed at the map level or by building networks on the fly choosing from one of the eight network building algorithms.

Nicholas Schork, Professor of Psychiatry and Co-Director of the new UCSD Center for Human Genetics and Genomics, stated: "We and others within the UCSD Medical School are developing integrative approaches to understanding the pathophysiology of human diseases that will include, among other things, emphases on DNA sequence variation, altered gene expression, and protein perturbations, so having a tool like MetaCore to help synthesize information about pathways and genetic networks is absolutely crucial."

"My group evaluated MetaCore to better understand neuropathological changes associated with Schizophrenia using our high throughput data. We felt that this software can help us understand the details of cellular changes in these disorders so we decided to license it, along with several other groups at UCSD", stated Dr. Ian Everall, Professor of Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry, UCSD School of Medicine.

"We will be using MetaCore for a number of projects investigating the mechanisms of signal transduction downstream of GPCR and tyrosine kinase receptors. This software will help us to understand the complex physiological regulation of reproduction and glucose metabolism", stated Dr. Nicholas Webster, Professor of Medicine and Director of the Genechip Miicroarray Core Facility.

"We have had a great relationship with UCSD over the past few years and are happy to expand on it", stated Julie Bryant, VP of Business Development. "We are hoping that the added visibility, especially at the core facility, will give more scientists a chance to utilize MetaCore in their research. We plan to continue to work closely with UCSD on these and several other projects."

Leslie Versweyveld

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