New e-science service could accelerate cancer research

Manchester 01 July 2009The University of Manchester and the European Molecular Biology Laboratory's European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI) have launched a major new e-science resource for biologists - which could accelerate research into treatments for H1N1 flu and cancer. Biocatalogue.org, a centralised registry of curated life science Web Services, has been officially launched July 1, 2009 at the 17th Annual International Conference on Intelligent Systems for Molecular Biology and the 8th European Conference on Computational Biology conference (ISMB-ECCB 2009) in Stockholm.

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This type of systematic access has the potential to significantly accelerate the work of researchers in the medical, agronomical and pharmaceutical fields. The service allows researchers to discover, annotate, register and use biological web-based services.

Biocatalogue.org already has around 1000 biological Web Services - and more and more will be registered and annotated by services providers, curators and users on a daily basis. Services are monitored by automated mechanisms and by the user community for their availability and reliability. A simple traffic light system displays the current status of a Web Service.

In addition to providing the means to programmatically access life science tools and databases over the Internet, the facility acts as a place where researchers can contact and meet the experts and maintainers of these services. Web services have gained a momentum as a means for packaging existing data and computational resources in a form that is amenable for use and composition by third party applications.

The life science community is among the first adopters of Web Services. Taverna, a work flow workbench that is popular within the life science community - and which was jointly developed by computer scientists at the University of Manchester - provides access to over 3500 Web Services that can be composed by scientists for constructing and enacting their in silico experiments.

But one of the main issues that hinders the wide adoption and use of Web Services is the difficulty in locating those that perform the analysis the scientist is interested in. With Biocatalogue.org, Web Services are annotated by expert curators, service providers and by the wider Community using tags, rating, comments and ontologies. Automated mining and monitoring tools are also used.

The project has been led by Professor Carole Goble at the University of Manchester and Rodrigo Lopez at EMBL EBI. Other contributors include Khalid Belhajjame, Franck Tanoh, Jiten Bhagat, Katy Wolstencroft and Robert Stevens from the University of Manchester and Eric Nzuobontane, Hamish McWilliam and Thomas Laurent from EMBL EBI. The project is been funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).

BioCatalogue leverages from existing registry such as BioMoby and seekda. BioCatalogue will merge with the Embrace registry. BioCatalogue is available at BioCatalogue.org

The University of Manchester is Britain's largest single-site university with a proud history of achievement and an ambitious agenda for the future. It is a member of the Russell Group, was ranked with the elite group of research universities traditionally formed by the triangle of Oxford, Cambridge and London in the recent Research Assessment Exercise 2008. Its external research income is GBP 263 million.

The European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI) is part of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) and is located on the Wellcome Trust Genome Campus in Hinxton near Cambridge, United Kingdom. The EBI grew out of EMBL's pioneering work in providing public biological databases to the research community. It hosts some of the world's most important collections of biological data, including DNA sequences (EMBL-Bank), protein sequences (UniProt), animal genomes (Ensembl), three-dimensional structures (the Macromolecular Structure Database), data from micro-array experiments (ArrayExpress), protein–protein interactions (IntAct) and pathway information (Reactome). The EBI hosts several research groups and its scientists continually develop new tools for the biocomputing community.


Source: University of Manchester

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