Japan-based GrapeCity, a long-time certified partner of Microsoft, will develop data authoring and management software for Microsoft Office and the .NET framework to ensure users work with familiar products instead of having to learn Extensible Markup Language (XML) or specialised authoring tools.
Pharmaceutical companies face a constant technical challenge to manage, integrate and share the data that is increasing both in terms of amount and complexity. The BioIT Alliance was set up to help create software solutions to these problems with the ultimate aim of reducing costs, streamlining research and marketing products more effectively.
"We are very pleased to have GrapeCity join the BioIT Alliance," said Don Rule, Microsoft's platform strategy advisor and BioIT Alliance director. "Their expertise in regulatory compliance technology will help our members more easily turn the data they generate today into pharmaceutical products for tomorrow."
"To maintain a healthy drug pipeline, pharmaceutical companies need a robust drug discovery and development process that's also easy to work with," added Sanjeev Jagtap, GrapeCity's director of product management.
"GrapeCity has already developed FDA-compliant XML Structured Product Labeling solutions that are integrated with Microsoft Office, making them easy to use and to support. We are committed to replicating this success in other phases of the drug development life cycle."
Unlike other collaborations between the IT and life science industries, the alliance hopes to develop technology that can be used throughout the drug development process, rather than focussing solely on early-stage drug development.
Founding members of the alliance include Accelrys Software, Affymetrix, Agilent Technologies, Amylin Pharmaceuticals, Applied Biosystems, The BioTeam, Digipede Technologies, Discovery Biosciences, Geospiza, Hewlett-Packard Development Company, L.P., Illumina, InterKnowlogy, Sun Microsystems, The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) and VizX Labs.
The first alliance project was the Collaborative Molecular Environment. A joint venture between Microsoft, TSRI and InterKnowlogy, it sought to provide a means for data capture, visualisation, annotation and archiving using Microsoft Office, Windows Presentation Foundation and SharePoint technologies. The software has since been deployed at TSRI and IO Informatics, based in California, US, decided to implement the technology as an extension to their informatics software products.
"We use .NET and Microsoft SQL Server technology extensively to speed development time and lower the cost of delivering our applications," said Patricia Rougeau, CEO of IO Informatics.
"We are eager to integrate the work of this proof of concept as we encounter critical business needs, in order to take advantage of the Windows Media Photo format for biomedical imaging and the Windows Presentation Foundation for rendering and annotating three-dimensional data."
Clarabridge, Virginia, US, has also recently announced that it has joined the BioIT Alliance. The company specialise in data mining technology for information such as medical records, laboratory data and even online blogs and clinical trial data.
"Advances in our understanding of the human genome promise to revolutionize medicine and open the door to therapies that are tailored to individuals," said Bill Gates, chairman and chief software architect of Microsoft, speaking at the launch of the alliance last year.
"By bringing together people from innovative life sciences organizations that span the biomedical industry, the BioIT Alliance will play an important role in the development of solutions that transform today's data into knowledge and improve the quality of millions of lives."