LifeMap born to create stem cell database

There's a new database in the works for researchers to view details on the progression of embryonic stem cells to more mature states. LifeMap Sciences, a newly formed subsidiary of Alameda, CA-based life sciences firm BioTime ($BTX), is developing the stem cell database as part of a collaboration involving BioTime and gene research software provider XenneX of Cambridge, MA.

BioTime is the new company's main financial backer. It will make an initial equity investment of $833,300 and invest an additional $1.2 million over the next 15 months if the group hits milestones in developing the stem cell database and reaches other goals, BioTime said in a recent SEC filing. David Warshawsky, the founder and chairman of XenneX, is the CEO of LifeMap.

Researchers could find LifeMap's database of interest because it would enable them to chart the thousands of cell lines that develop from embryonic stem cells. Plans for the database also call for the inclusion of information on molecular markers for the cell lines. LifeMap plans to sell access to the database to life sciences firms. For its part, XenneX brings some experience with databases for life sciences research; the company markets GeneCards, a database that includes information on all known genes in human DNA.

BioTime sees another potential benefit of the stem cell database: providing a new channel for selling the cell lines it produces for the life sciences research market. "Eventually, we may build a component that says 'Click here if you want to buy these stem cell lines,'" Barbara Domingo, a spokesperson for BioTime, told FierceBiotech IT in an interview.

Domingo said LifeMap hasn't revealed when it plans to release the stem cell database commercially. When the database does become available, it'll be interesting to see how it compares with others I've online such as The Stem Cell Database created by resesearchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and the University of Pennsylvania.

- read BioTime's SEC filing
- here's the BioTime-XenneX release