IBM and MDS Proteomics Alliance Aims To Speed Drug Development

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TORONTO - 30 Jan 2001: . . . IBM and MDS Proteomics, a proteomics research company, today announced an agreement that is expected to lead to new technologies that will speed drug development for a wide range of diseases. Under the terms of the strategic alliance:

The alliance targets one of the most challenging problems in life sciences today: understanding the interactions among proteins that trigger chemical reactions in cells and cause diseases such as cancer, AIDS and depression.

"Once you know the role that a protein plays in a disease, it is possible to develop drugs that target the protein and treat the disease," said Frank Gleeson, president and chief executive officer of MDS Proteomics. "Large pharmaceutical companies are under significant pressure to increase the productivity of their drug discovery process and shorten the drug development time frame in order to meet the annual growth rates expected by their shareholders. Through our strategic alliance with IBM, we are applying breakthrough information technology to improve our understanding of how proteins function in order to put drug design and development on a faster track."

To achieve the company's goals, MDS Proteomics is deploying a powerful supercomputing infrastructure. The configuration includes three superclusters of IBM eServer* systems running Linux** and UNIX**, and high-performance data management, disk and tape storage systems, which will work with MDS Proteomics' fault-tolerant, cluster-based software to accelerate the process of identifying, analyzing and explaining the function of proteins.

The supercomputing cluster will process output from a network of ultra-sensitive mass spectrometers, which will be located in North America and Europe. Mass spectrometers are used to identify and analyze proteins, critical steps in the process of determining protein interactions.

A combination of IBM's DB2* Universal Database and Shark* disk and Linear Tape Open*** storage systems will provide a high-speed solution for storing, managing, accessing and retrieving enormous quantities of protein sequence data.

"We selected DB2 and IBM to provide us with a cluster-based scalable system for the long term," said Christopher Hogue, MDS Proteomics' chief information officer. "We believe that our data-intensive discovery platform could generate enough information to greatly expand the scientific and medical communities' understanding of human biology and disease."

MDS Proteomics' advanced system will be augmented by IBM's DiscoveryLink* data integration technology, which will seamlessly integrate proteomics data, including amino-acid sequences, from a variety of sources, formats and file types. Using DiscoveryLink, researchers for the first time can consolidate information from many sources into a 'virtual database' to solve complex medical research problems.

The IBM/MDS Proteomics agreement is the latest initiative by IBM's Life Sciences business unit to form alliances with and develop information technology solutions for biotechnology, pharmaceutical, genomics, e-health, and other life sciences industries.

"Unraveling the mystery of protein activity is one of the most computationally intensive challenges in the world of research today," said Dr. Caroline Kovac, vice president, IBM Life Sciences. "Compared to the human genome, proteomics research involves 1,000 times more data and just as much additional computational capacity. Managing the complexity and enormous scalability requirements of MDS Proteomics' system was a natural fit for IBM."

IBM and MDS Proteomics will leverage their respective expertise in computational biology, protein biology and bioinformatics to develop new software and hardware tools for MDS Proteomics' work on protein analyses.

Both companies will work to establish BIND (Biomolecular Interaction Network Database), a publicly available bioinformatics database that will allow researchers worldwide to submit and review results of research about molecular interactions and the detailed cellular mechanisms of life. Contributions toward the establishment of BIND will consist of cash, hardware, software, expertise and other payments in kind, as well as a long-term commitment to continued support. The software and data specifications for the BIND system have been released under the terms of the open-source GNU General Public License. Additional information can be obtained by visiting the BIND Web site at