IBM and MDS Proteomics Alliance Aims to Speed Drug Development

IBM and MDS Proteomics, a proteomics research company, 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:

  • IBM will be the preferred supplier of hardware, software and services to MDS Proteomics.
  • IBM and MDS Proteomics will establish a public research database of protein analyses, accessible to pharmaceutical researchers, universities, scientists and others, via the Internet.
  • IBM and MDS Proteomics will collaborate on research projects to solve complex, computationally intensive problems related to biotechnology.
  • IBM will make an equity investment in MDS Proteomics.

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," says 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.

MDS Proteomics' advanced system will be augmented by IBM's DiscoveryLink data integration technology, which will integrate proteomics data, including amino-acid sequences, from a variety of sources, formats and file types.

Both companies will work to establish Biomolecular Interaction Network Database (BIND), 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.

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