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Thursday, December 1, 2011

New York Times, "DNA Sequencing Caught in Deluge of Data": Why Are They Not Speaking With Compugen?

Prior to becoming chairman of the board of Compugen Ltd., Mr. Martin Gerstel was co-chairman and CEO of ALZA Corporation, which he helped found in 1968, and which was sold to Johnson & Johnson for more than $10 billion. A biotech visionary to whom George Gilder's book "The Israel Test" devotes a full chapter, Mr. Gerstel foresaw that Big Pharma's pipelines, dependent upon high throughput and ultra high throughput technologies, would ultimately hit the wall. Anyone who has been privileged to hear Mr. Gerstel speak, also knows that he has long predicted that Big Pharma would ultimately be flooded with oceans of data from which no one would be able to make heads or tails. Mr. Gerstel is again being proven correct.

In a New York Times article entitled "DNA Sequencing Caught in Deluge of Data" (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/01/business/dna-sequencing-caught-in-deluge-of-data.html?_r=2&hp) by Andrew Pollack, it is observed that DNA sequencing is outstripping "the ability of researchers to store, transmit and especially to analyze the data." Pollack goes on to say:

"One near victim of the data explosion has been a federal online archive of raw sequencing data. The amount stored has more than tripled just since the beginning of the year, reaching 300 trillion DNA bases and taking up nearly 700 trillion bytes of computer memory.

. . . .

Moreover, DNA is just part of the story. To truly understand biology, researchers are gathering data on the RNA, proteins and chemicals in cells. That data can be even more voluminous than data on genes. And those different types of data have to be integrated.

. . . .

Professor Brown of Michigan State said: 'We are going to have to come up with really clever ways to throw away data so we can see new stuff.'"

Query: Why aren't these researchers speaking with Compugen, a tiny Israeli biotech company, which, for the past decade, has sought to understand key life processes at the molecular level by modeling, rather than collecting, data? Compugen's efforts over the past decade have given rise to multiple predictive discovery platforms, which have already yielded significant new therapeutic candidates predicted in silico (by computer). Moreover, Compugen's computerized ability to predict new drug candidates is swift and costs a tiny fraction of what is required by other pharma companies to find new candidates.

Evidencing the validity of their technique, Compugen has made several recent announcements concerning the predictive discovery of novel B7/CD28 family members with significant therapeutic potential in the fields of oncology and immunology (see, most recently: http://www.cgen.com/Content.aspx?Page=press_releases&NewsId=584).

In short, collecting data is per se of little value, unless you can create hypotheses which can be validated or refuted by the data, in either event leading to a better understanding of the processes, thereby facilitating reasoned intervention.

[As noted in prior blog entries, I am a Compugen shareholder, this blog entry is not a recommendation to buy or sell Compugen shares, and in September 2009 I began work as a part-time external consultant to Compugen. The opinions expressed herein are mine and are based on publicly available information. This blog entry has not been authorized, approved or reviewed prior to posting by Compugen.]

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