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IBM and Karolinska Institutet Team to Build Sweden's First IT-Enabled Biobank Designed to Unlock the Mysteries of Human Disease

Researchers Will Study the Effects of Genetics and Lifestyle on Disease Using Elements of IBM's New Healthcare and Life Sciences Clinical Genomics Solution

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ARMONK, NY & STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN - 19 Nov 2004: IBM and Karolinska Institutet, the Nobel-prize-awarding research institute, today announced they will team up to build Sweden's first IT-enabled biobank to advance the understanding of the links between genetics, environment and disease.

Researchers at the Karolinska Institutet Biobank will examine thousands of human tissue samples along with genetic and environmental data to help accelerate the understanding of the underlying mechanisms of disease, conduct more focused clinical trials and ultimately transform healthcare delivery through information-based medicine. The biobanking project is part of a strategic relationship between IBM and Karolinska Institutet to further research in the life sciences.

Currently, biobanks function independently to store small samplings of human data. Through the agreement, the Karolinska Institutet will work with IBM to integrate research projects across the country by developing data collection standards and providing the IT infrastructure to foster collaboration that could lead to the development of more targeted, timely cures for complex diseases.

"By working with the Karolinska Institutet, we are advancing information-based medicine -- the use of IT to enhance clinical data, such as lab tests and family histories, with knowledge about the human genome," said Mike Svinte, vice president, Information-Based Medicine. "By understanding gene variations linked to disease or drug response, doctors can make more precise diagnoses. This same understanding is required for drug makers to develop more targeted medications and identify clinical trial participants more effectively."

Through the agreement, the Karolinska Institutet Biobank will be supported by elements from the new IBM Healthcare and Life Sciences Clinical Genomics Solution. Aspects of the new solution, driven by IBM's Information-Based Medicine division, will be combined with IBM's leading consulting services. Together, this will provide the requisite information infrastructure to integrate genotypic and phenotypic data and foster flexible databases that can handle the growing amount of available information and meet the dynamic needs of the research community.

"The IT infrastructure and expertise provided by IBM is absolutely critical to achieving our goal to impact international efforts in epidemiology, improve public health and guide planning for new studies," said Professor Jan-Eric Litton, Director of Informatics, Karolinska Institutet Biobank. "By creating an open research environment, we can move quickly to discover new treatments for diseases with the greatest human and economic burden."

The Karolinska Institutet Biobank will allow scientists to test hypotheses never explored before in a more efficient and large-scale environment. The new venture is one of Karolinska Institutet's leading priorities which support a strategic investment to enable advanced clinical research in the future. The Biobank aims to serve as a core facility and service provider helping researchers comply with the laws which regulate Biobanking.

The IBM Healthcare and Life Sciences Clinical Genomics Solution has been designed to provide a secure, robust environment for the integration of diverse clinical, biomedical and high-throughput research data. The solution also helps clients meet rigorous patient privacy and security standards, such as HIPAA in the United States and the EU Privacy Directive in Europe. The Karolinska Institutet Biobank will leverage IBM's security framework to help define consistent security policies -- based on both internal security requirements and industry-standard security policies -- and monitor compliance of these defined security policies.

Other products used in the Karolinska Institutet Biobank will include:

WebSphere® Portal Server: provides framework for accessing information and services provided by BIMS and collaborating on projects and documents

Data Discovery and Query Builder (DDQB): Provides advanced query functionality to users without knowledge of query languages such as SQL

DB2 Information Integrator (DB2II): Enables single-query access to external and internal data sources of various types and formats

Contact(s) information

Jorge G. Alberni
IBM Media Relations
(914) 766-3336
alberni@us.ibm.com