IBM wants to sweeten chocolate the genomic style

Dont get your imagination run wild, you IBM machine not going to make Chocolates. Mars and IBM are to combine scientific and research resources with the US Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) in an attempt to sequence and analyse the entire cocoa genome.

IBM said in a statement that the combined effort could benefit more than 6.5 million farmers worldwide and help sustain the supply of chocolate

IBM has produced a video promotion of the Cocoa Genome project which is available on YouTube

Does Firefox 3 have better memmory usage compared to Opera 9.5- !

Since its record setting release day a lot has been written about Firfox3. And many said it has better memmory usage. Firefox 3 engineer Pavlov says Fiefox 3 has better memmory utilization, and I have looked at every blog and website that talked about how Fiefox 3 is better is terms of memmory use.

So I am surprised to see that in my office PC( IBM, Machine with Pentium 4 and 1GB RAM, WinXP)  opening google home page using an ultra high speed Corporate internet connection in opera 9.5 and Firefox 3.  Firefox raking in more memmory compared to Opera. I’m a big fan of Firefox because it’s so easy to customize, and have been using it for many years. and use it even in the office despite most of our internal applications not working on it, ofcourse I use a lot customizations.

Some How the final release uses more memmory compared to Opera and freezes more often while opening more than 10 or pages. Ofcourse I was not using any extensions while testing Firefox 3 vs Opera9.5

And acording to CNET also opera takes less memmory compared to Firefox 3

Semantic Search Engine for PubMed- Microsoft Vs Yahoo Vs Google Vs Oracle in Semantic Web Search

Hakia is a semantic web search engine, so what you might think. The difference is hakia targets legal, financial and Medical web searches. Thye have even licensed its technology to a startup company that summarized information for government and pharmaceutical companies

There is more starting from April 2008 using Hakia you can search Pubmed. Adding more than 10 million abstracts from PubMed to their index and setting up a new site dedicated to searching this content at The PubMed content will also be visible in search results on the hakia medical search site and via the main hakia search page

For exmaple my query of microarray software Pubmed returned 1646 results and Hakia 15 some times having too much is not good idea, especially when you are looking for specific text.

It doesnt even stop there, the result also showed me Meet Others who asked same query in PubMed Semantic search with the option to even add a post so I found a job for part-time employee to work in a microarray lab. This I think is a great tool especially if more people use it you can use the feature to locate people working on similar topic. Ofcourse you can any of the much known social tools like Linkedin

Still not convinced of the merits take a look at the comparison of the search results on new regulatory problems affecting personal genomics companies, in google and Hakia

You can also generate a custom seach box that can be added to your website much like the custom google search box .

and yes there is competition to Powerset has launched its

May be because Yahoo is already offering Semantic webs earch using

But there is more than what meets the eye. Remember Interestingly in 2007 June Oracle staked its claim to leadership in the enterprise side of the emerging semantic Web space, saying that more than 100 commercial and open-source applications are using its version of the technology. Oracle do offer search called Oracle Secure Enterprise Search. Take a look at the Oracle Semantic Technology Centre

Microsoft can also say to be making up for the loss of TripleHop to Oracle,

There is still more surprises a Paul Allen backed semantic search engine has launched a Beta release in June 24.

Other similar service providers includes TextDigger, Radar Networks that offers semantic technology in advertising, Twine, then there is Spock calling itself a vertical search engine for people, usign top-down semantic search. In that sense we can call Google Maps to be using semantic technology though it cant be called a thorough breed in this field

Genetic testing impacts life insurance policies

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has suspended the use of predictive genetic testing until the year 2014. allowing consumers to continue taking out cover without disclosing the adverse results of tests to predict a predisposition to cancer or heart disease.

Does that mean they will discriminate us later

Did they never heard of Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) the rule signed by US prsident with the intention of that will protect Americans against discrimination based on their genetic information when it comes to health insurance and employment.

Stephen Haddrill, the ABI’s Director General, said:

“The moratorium on the use of predictive genetic test results works well for consumers. It means people can insure themselves and their families, even if they have had an adverse result from a predictive genetic test. The moratorium has proved effective since its introduction in 2001 and can now continue

The moratorium was established in 2001 and covers policies worth up to £500,000 for life insurance, £300,000 for critical illness insurance and £30,000 a year for income protection insurance. The extension leaves consumers free to apply for cover up to these levels without advising an insurance company of the adverse results of any predictive genetic test they have taken.

According to the ABI, around 3% of policies sold in the UK are above these limits and in these cases, insurers can request predictive genetic tests but only if the tests are approved by an independent Government committee.

So far, the only test that has been approved in this way is for Huntington’s disease, for life cover over £500,000.The ABI has updated its consumer guide “Insurance and genetics: what you need to know”, which can be downloaded from its website. It will commence the next review of the moratorium in 2011

Deadline for Personal Genomics Companies

State of New York has issues warning against Personal genomics companies , after they have received many complaints. Now the State of California Department of Helath (CDPH) is trying to keep consumer genetic testing companies from offering their services to the state’s residents and last week sent letters to 13 firms saying they are violating state law. The companies have time till today June 24 to respond to the notice. While New York State warned several companies that genome tests could not be performed on samples from New York residents without formal state approval.

CDPH requirements mandate that

  1. Any business offering genetic tests to California residents must be licensed as a clinical laboratory in California
  2. The laboratory must have must have a CLIA certificate for laboratory testing
  3. All genetic tests must be ordered by a licensed physician

The 3rd part of the requirements mean the end of DIY genetic testing and more headches for companies in coming weeks.

Google-backed 23andMe and Navigenics are also included in the list of companies that received the notice The major companies, including 23andMe, Navigenics, and Decode Genetics have issued statements confirming that theya re using CLIA registered laboraotries for the testing DNA genotyping. 23andMe partners with Illumina, while Navigenics collaborates with Affymetrix.

Steven Murphy compared these companies to napster check out his blog post1 post2 on this subjetcs. He is certainly not likely to be excited to learn that 23andMe has launched a wiki page called 23andWe to recruit its customers to participate in studies trying to shed additional light on genetic predispositions for certain diseases and adverse drug reactions.

23andMe has maintained that it is not selling a medical service but rather giving people access to their genetic information. They company prefers to call its 23andWe study participants “customers” and not “patients,” . Smart move but lets see if CDPH is going to buy that argument.

But today 23andMe shot back to CDPH that they’ll be doing neither cease nor desist. We believe we are in compliance with California law and are continuing to operate in California at this time,” the company said in a statement released to

The company has has argued that the testing they provide isn’t a prevention aid, but merely offers “individuals contextual information about their genetic makeup, including ancestry and applicable scientific research.”

No one wants to believe Carl Icahn’s offer of $15 B for Biogen- even when he says he will increase R&d Spending

CNN once referred him as shrewdest investor on the planet. Carl Icahn who is now in the eye of storm for his involvment to throw the board of Yahoo for rejecting bid offer from Microsoft. The Billionaire corporate raider has made a beeline for the Lifescience Industry.

Carl Icahn, embroiled in a proxy battle with Biogen Idec, offered to pay as much as $15 billion last year for the company, the largest maker of drugs for multiple sclerosis. This week his move to throw out the board of Biogen has been rejected by shareholders as they voted in favor of the biotech’s own slate of directors instead of those nominated by activist investor Carl Icahn.

Seems like no one wants to believe him when he says he will pump in more money into R&D. Really?

according to a memo to shareholders filed today with the ( SEC) Securities and Exchange Commission. Icahn wants to boost spending on research and development, improve employee morale, mend relations with partners, and possibly cut expenses outside research,

In the biggest biotechnology deal of 2007, Icahn pushed MedImmune Inc. to sell itself to London-based AstraZeneca Plc for $15.2 billion

Why Pfizer planning a $5B USD counter bid for the largest Indian branded generics

While Invitrogen is making news merging into Applied Biosystems, with its $ 6.7 B USD deal creating the first of its kind of company, that can boast to own and invade every sphere of biological research from wet lab to information systems.

Pfizer is planning to counter bid the $4.6 billion offer by Japan’s Daiichi Sankyo Co Ltd  for the Indian generic drug maker Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd. Ranbaxy has been a thorn in the big pharma fight against, generics and branded generics. Reason Ranbaxy just got FDA approval–and 180-day exclusivity–to sell a copycat version of Pfizer’s cholesterol lowering drug lipitor beginning in March 2010. Why should  lose all that cholesterol-drug revenue when, with a buyout, it could recapture it?

Raising fears that Indian companies that supply WHO and other World Organizations with cheap medicine will go under the hammer of Big multinationals, prompting hike in prices of drugs for treating  AIDs to cancer, cholestrol , hyper-tension or even antibiotics to fight infections, whose prices are the lowest in the world . Perhaps the era of cheap drugs may be over.

India is the biggest supplier of cheaper versions of essential drugs to the developing world and has a share of nearly 25% in the overall generic space. Domestic generic biggies particularly Ranbaxy and Cipla have been recognized globally, not only for their low-cost medicines, but also of their ability to produce quality medicines.

For instance, Cipla offers a first line AID Medicine which is a combination of three drugs, at a price of $100 per patient per year as against the MNC tag of $10,349, a huge reduction of over 100 times.

Microarrays in Personalized Medicine- $200M-US Aided Personalized Medicine Program

I have written quiet often about this subject and companies that promises solution for personalized medicine. especially the use of genomics information in organ transplant patients and cancer treatment. XDx and Genomic Health are two such companies . XDX has applied microarray, to monitor the immune system, with the help of Gene expression to address the challenge of balancing the risk of acute cellular rejection against the known adverse effects of immunosuppressants; especially inexpression testing for patients with heart transplants. Genomic Health provides individualized genomic profiling of tumor tissue may help improve cancer management.

personalized medicine is still dismissed of by many as the cost are still high, and there are very few trained physicians who can use this extra information for better clinical outcome.

US institutes Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), the Institute for Systems Biology, and the Partnership for Personalized Medicine will help the government of Luxembourg start a three-pronged, $200 million-plus biomedical initiative focused on harnessing genomics technologies to study human health problems.

For those who wants to cry foul that genomic information can lead to discrimination against individuals by insurance companies or others can take solace on GINA . In may 21.2008 President  George Bush has signed into law the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) that will protect Americans against discrimination based on their genetic information when it comes to health insurance and employment.

The most immediate benefit of GINA is to remove barriers to identifying individuals at high risk for diseases due to genetic mutations before the onset of the disease

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