New Biology Tools
“Products for biology are just now entering the market,” Elliott says. Biology is a diverse space built upon different nomenclatures. Thus, biologists need software tools designed not only for biology but with the flexibility to be used in a variety of subspecialties.
Biology, for most ELN companies, is a tough nut to crack. “It isn’t as exact a science as chemistry,” Paul Denny-Gouldson, product manager at IDBS, maintains. There’s more speculation and supposition, so “flexibility is the key to this type of research,” Williams emphasizes.
The IDBS E-WorkBook Suite addresses the need for flexibility with a two-step approach. First, it uses a general ELN framework to provide the basic functionality for elements like electronic signatures, audits, creating lab and legal documents, and supporting intellectual property.
The second, more specific phase employs the BioBook and ChemBook extensions that provide the ability to capture, manage, analyze, report, and mine structured (factual) and unstructured (contextual) data. It handles complex, multidimensional data in late-stage development as well as in vivo testing and preclinical work, according to Denny-Gouldson. This system can integrate easily with existing systems using a combination of Web and data federation services.
At the “IQPC ELNs” conference in London held recently, Rescentris (www.rescentris.com) and the U.S. Air Force received the Global Automation Award for best knowledge management software for biological R&D, awarded by the Collaborative Electronic Notebook Systems Association (www.censa.org). That application, called CERF for collaborative electronic research framework, aims to be “the desktop of scientists,” according to Adel Mikhail, Ph.D., CEO.
Based on ontologies, it allows searches through full text content, metadata, and controlled vocabularies and captures annotations and scientific interpretations, thus facilitating collaborations across the enterprise, notes Dr. Mikhail. In addition, it meets the technical provisions of 21CFR Part 11.
Symyx is working with partners to address the biology space by building a modular approach to ELNs. “Our goal,” Dorsett says, “is to offer specialized, vertical tiers of ELNs. When released, it will join the company’s other ELN components, including Discovery Notebook, which allows scientists to quickly design and record new reactions or begin with reactions found in the corporate ELN database; Process Notebook, which enables planning and recording of synthetic campaigns (from lab to pilot plant); and Analytical Notebook, which saves time by recording analytical data in custom templates that enforce business rules.”
Symyx’ Formulations Notebook enables scientists to design formulations, create custom batch tickets, and record batch data and analytical results, while BioProcess Notebook is designed to record bioprocess and analytical data in a corporate repository. The Symyx Vault platform provides core infrastructure for the specialized electronic lab notebooks. It also complies with the 21CFR Part 11 technical requirements.