Devgen and IBM Join Forces to Analyze Genomic Data

Drug Target Discovery and Validation Using C. Elegans Roundworm, Facilitated by IBM Technology, Gives Researchers New Insights into Human Diseases

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GHENT, BELGIUM - 29 May 2001: Belgium-based biotech company Devgen NV has deployed IBM technology to conduct genetic research on a microscopic roundworm (C. elegans). This research will help identify new drug targets and leads for human diseases such as diabetes, depression, obesity and many others, as well as insecticide discovery.

Devgen's new system includes a cluster of IBM eServer* systems (2 pSeries* model H80s and 20 xSeries* model 330s) running Linux** and AIX*, which is used to analyze genome information. Devgen's core technology involves the use of C. elegans to identify validated drug targets and in vivo active compounds. By studying this transparent worm, Devgen researchers can better understand gene interactions in humans that trigger chemical reactions in cells and cause diseases, and narrow the search for medical treatments.

"Given the increasing availability of completely sequenced genomes, Devgen has designed a powerful system that enables rapid deciphering of huge volumes of data and the uncovering of genetic patterns that hold the key to important new drugs," said Dr. Wim Van Criekinge, Devgen's director of bioinformatics and genomics. "We are doubling our capacity every ten months, so scalability is an important factor. In addition, we need an information technology infrastructure that supports both UNIX and Linux. IBM is the logical choice as a strategic technology partner."

The system includes a unique, proprietary hardware platform that is uncoupled and scalable in both storage and crunching capacity. Devgen completed this high performance system with software solutions that realize the full potential of the hardware and present the results interactively to the biologist.

"This bioinformatics architecture enables Devgen to store, filter and analyze large sequence databases in-house," said Dr. Robin Brown, chief scientific officer of Devgen. "Combined analysis of the entire publicly available sequence information and Devgen's proprietary genomic information provides Devgen with the world-class ability to mine sequence information for drug discovery. This capability is used for in-house research programs and for corporate research partners."

The new system was configured and implemented by IBM's business partner Computers & Communications (C&C).

"This deployment brings together IBM's information technology leadership and C&C's expertise in implementing Linux and UNIX solutions," said Dr. Anne-Marie Derouault, director of business development, IBM Life Sciences. "Our complementary strengths are providing a technology base that Devgen can use now and in the future to advance and commercialize scientific research that identifies drug targets and candidate drugs effective in treating disease."

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