Technology giants Oracle and Hitachi said Wednesday that they will collaborate with biopharmaceutical company Myriad Genetics Inc.

InformationWeek Staff, Contributor

April 4, 2001

2 Min Read

Technology giants Oracle and Hitachi said Wednesday that they will collaborate with biopharmaceutical company Myriad Genetics Inc. to produce a map of human-protein structures, which would allow for significant medical and pharmaceutical advances.

Proteins are complex molecules that are one of the basic building blocks of life, making up not only the structure of living things but playing an essential role in chemical reactions within cells. A strand of DNA is really a set of instructions for making amino acids, which form a protein.

A map of the human proteome, or protein structure, is "the next big step" in medical science, says Jeffrey Vance, a professor of neurogenetics at Duke University Medical Center. "Once you know where all the proteins are, you can begin to look at functions and predictive uses and targets for drugs." Vance says a protein map wouldn't instantly help doctors cure disease, but would speed up medical research and allow for the development of better drugs. "It's just more information that makes things happen quicker."

Myriad Proteomics, a newly formed subsidiary of Myriad Genetics, will undertake the project. Myriad will contribute $82 million worth of technology to the project, and Hitachi, Oracle, and Swiss firm Friedli Corporate Finance will contribute $18 million in technology, as well as a combined $85 million in cash. The project will collect the protein map in a proprietary database, which it will then license to pharmaceutical and biotech companies. The effort is valued at more than $185 million and is expected to be complete by 2004.

Myriad Proteomics won't be the first group building a protein map, but this effort is remarkable for its unusually broad corporate partnership. Doug Renert, VP of corporate development for Oracle, said in a conference call that the company is investing in the project, as well as contributing its software and expertise, in an effort to not only help it succeed, but to demonstrate their products. "We can really sit on the ground level here and assist Myriad with the implementation of its system," he said. "This provides us with a perfect showcase to show the rest of the industry what Oracle products and services can do."

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