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IBM and Hitachi pool gene information

Hitachi Software Engineering and IBM's Japanese division are to start a new online information delivery service to help pharmaceutical companies quickly collect genetic information.

The new GeneIndex Delivery service builds on Hitachi Software's work collecting and updating databases that disseminate genetic information, such as gene arrangements, amino acid arrangements and chromosome positions, Issei Shino, a spokesman for the company, said.

The company has developed software that is able to find out which of these databases hold the designated genetic information and creates an index of the located databases, Shino said.

Hitachi Software will offer clients, such as pharmaceutical companies, an information system incorporating software from IBM Japan which allows various formatted databases to be searched at once. When a client is investigating a gene arrangement in its laboratory, it can send the relevant data to Hitachi Software that will search and find the matched databases, create an index of them and send the information back to the client via the Internet.

In this way it is possible to find out whether that gene arrangement already exists in the public domain, or how it behaves, by getting information on similar gene arrangements that have already been clarified by other laboratories.

Each laboratory and institution around the world separately administrates databases on genetics so until now, it has been a time-consuming and complex process for researchers to get hold of genetic information required for their development work.

The GeneIndex Delivery service is expected to be launched next month for a monthly subscription of about ¥1m (£5,487) in Japan, Shino said. Hitachi Software and IBM hope to make sales of ¥1bn (£5m) in the first year from the service.

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