Accelrys, IBM, others spotlight new tech to back pharma R&D

As researchers team up with collaborators outside their own labs, software and tech providers are trotting out all kinds of new tools and products to support external R&D arrangements among pharma groups and others in life sciences. And the Bio-IT World Expo here in Boston is shaping up to be a prime spot to announce new products and tech deals.

Multiple companies are tackling the problem of transferring large data files quickly in order to facilitate research among parties housed in different locations.  Aspera, a Cambridge, U.K., provider of tech for transferring Big Data, revealed that Leica Biosystems has opted to integrate Leica's ePathology systems with Aspera's Connect Server to move digital images among locations around the globe. This tech tie-up enables remote sites to share patient cases with experts in distant locations for second opinions, research collaborations or to extend pathology services. Patient case files run up to a gigabyte, according to the companies, and Aspera's transfer platform transports the data quickly.

Obsidian Strategics also showed off its answer to the data transfer problem at Bio-IT World Expo. The product--called the Obsidian Longbow--was originally developed to help the Department of Defense transfer intelligence data. When applied to bioinformatics, the Longbows extend the rapid transfer capabilities at a computing facility to remote sites. The system is already in use at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) in Phoenix. TGen generates terabytes of data but its wet lab is several miles from the computing capabilities. By linking the wet lab and computing site via a pair of Longbows, Obsidian claims transfers of 1GB per second are achieved.

Accelrys ($ACCL), meanwhile, has teamed up with BT to help users collaborate with remote partners. BT is hosting the Accelrys information management and collaboration tool, HEOS, to provide a secure cloud environment for researchers to share data and project information. The collaboration builds on a relationship that began one year ago when BT rolled out its cloud computing platform at Bio-IT World Expo. The HEOS software is one of three parts, along with the Contur electronic lab notebook and company's Enterprise Platform that comprise its Externalized Collaboration Suite.

IBM ($IBM) has also allied for its offering. The tech giant is working with CLC bio on a platform for next generation sequencing. IBM is providing the power--courtesy of a computing cluster built on its own hardware--while CLC bio is behind the software element. Large-scale genomics sequencing data analysis is one part of the CLC bio offering. The other is the ability to analyze, compare and visualize high-throughput sequencing data. 

- here's the Aspera release
- check out the Obsidian news
- read the Accelrys item
- see the IBM development

Editor's note: This piece contains reports by Nick Paul Taylor.