Microsoft Unveils Software Platform For Life Science Research

Amalga Life Sciences is the latest product under the 3-year-old Microsoft Health Solutions banner.
Microsoft on Tuesday unveiled a version of its unified intelligence system, Amalga, for the life sciences market.

The software platform aims to more easily integrate data from disparate clinical and biological systems so that scientists, clinicians, and researchers can achieve medical and personalized health discoveries more quickly.

Amalga Life Sciences is the latest product under the 3-year-old Microsoft Health Solutions banner, which also includes a version of Amalga for clinical health care environments, such as hospitals, and HealthVault, which is a platform for consumers to manage their health information online.

The new software helps scientists, researchers, and other users in the life sciences sectors make "connections" between data in disparate systems, which in the biomedical research arena can often each contain multiple terabytes of complex genomic, clinical, and other data, said Jim Karkanias, senior director of applied research for Microsoft Health Solutions.

So, for instance, scientists involved with new drug trials could use Amalga to more quickly "connect" data in disparate systems -- such as a patient's genomic information with clinical data -- to identify reasons why a patient is responding poorly to a test medication. Those data connections could reveal that the patient -- who is showing a sign of an overdose -- is actually lacking a certain enzyme that would otherwise help process a key chemical in a new drug, said Karkanias.

"Work that would take months for scientists to do could take only a few seconds instead," he said.

The David H. Murdock Research Institute, a not-for-profit organization researching health and nutrition, has begun to use Amalga to help its multidisciplinary teams of scientists make "novel discoveries" related to the study of diseases, agriculture, genetics, proteomics, and more, said the institute's CIO, Dr. Ken Russell.

"Amalga gives a framework to build and promote discovery," Russell said. It's helping DMRI "blend disparate" data from multiple systems, including imaging and extremely powerful microscopic devices, he said. "Amalga brings this all together into seamless information."

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