By Matthew Willett

IBM Life Sciences and MDS Proteomics Inc. formed a non-profit organization named ¿blueprint¿ that will offer what the companies call the world¿s first comprehensive biomolecular database.

Blueprint¿s Biomolecular Interaction Network Database (BIND) will serve, it said, as a comprehensive source of protein interactions. The database is accessible at www.blueprint.org.

Supporting the database are the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute at Mt. Sinai Hospital in Toronto, the National Center for Biotechnology Information, The European Bioinformatics Institute, the Canadian Genetic Diseases Network, the National Research Council, and three Canadian Institutes of Health Research members: the Institute of Genetics, the Institute of Cancer Research and the Institute of Neurosciences.

Blueprint Managing Director Francis Ouellette said in a conference call that the database is a work in progress, updated continually.

¿The BIND database will have experimental data from the literature on interactions, on complexes and multiple interactions together,¿ Ouellette said. ¿It will have information on everything from bacteria and viruses all the way up to humans, and be all encompassing.¿

He said the public repository of data is ¿critical to the advancement of science.¿

¿I think,¿ he said, ¿that public databases like GenBank and BIND will enable bioinformatics researchers, cell biologists, molecular biologists, geneticists and biochemists worldwide to use data freely without any hindrance at all.¿

The database will be based on IBM¿s DB2 platform. IBM Life Sciences¿ head, Vice President Caroline Kovac, said the database will usher in a new era in bioinformatics.

¿We have a longstanding history of investment in the funding of research on how computing and biology come together,¿ she said. ¿My view is that blueprint is the natural extension of the kind of investment IBM has made and a very exciting step into the future of research. We see blueprint as a part of what we observe to be a convergence between information technology and biology.¿

IBM, of Armonk, N.Y., formed the Life Sciences Unit in August 2000 to enter partnerships and develop information technology solutions for life sciences industries, and one of the first deals in that space for IBM was MDS Proteomics, of Toronto.

That pact called for IBM to be the preferred provider of hardware for the proteomics company, collaborating with MDS on computer-intense proteomics projects using IBM¿s ¿clever architecture and complicated algorithms.¿ (See BioWorld Today, Jan. 31, 2001.)

MDS¿s president and CEO, Frank Gleeson, said his company has been driven since inception to encourage participation by public researchers.

¿We thought very carefully when we established MDS Proteomics on the issue of public vs. private research, and we wanted to invite public researchers to work with us and others and to contribute to the development of public-based research,¿ Gleeson told BioWorld Today.

¿We believe that building on the genetic sequence information, biomolecular interaction information will be the next wave. The level of data generated will vastly exceed the level of data generated in genomics, and there isn¿t an effective standard database for capturing that molecular interaction information,¿ Gleeson said. ¿The concept of putting together an architecture that we could transfer to the public domain to allow public research to be catalogued and stored and allow the public to use and that we can use made a tremendous amount of sense from the basis of sharing and community-based research and from a business point of view.¿

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