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Cognia expands offerings
July 2006
by Lisa Espenschade  |  Email the author
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NEW YORK—Cognia Corp. announced in June the introduc­tion of its Cognia Catabolism database, containing informa­tion about ubiquitin system molecules. The announcement coincides with two executive appointments and signals the start of a commercial expansion that will spawn dozens of other database product offerings.
 
Cognia Catabolism, says David Rubin, Cognia's CSO and senior vice president of prod­uct management, is "the first database that focuses in on the ubiquitin system, and the ubiq­uitin system is really one of the hot drug target areas." Rubin introduced Cognia Catabolism at the "Targeting Ubiquitin for Drug Discovery & Development" conference in late June. The proprietary data­base will be available in October, under an annual subscription plan.
 
Cognia Catabolism will hold unstructured information from thousands of scientific papers focusing on E2 and E3 ubiqui­tin protein ligases, says Rubin. Each potential source, says Bob Merold, Cognia president and CEO, undergoes a "fairly rigorous process" that is expected to review for inclusion over 50,000 papers, patents, and conference abstracts. He describes the "disciplined and thorough" process as "computer-enhanced" because Rubin, another scientist, and Cognia's advisory board review materials.
 
Ubiquitin information should be of "very broad reach" for scien­tists, says Rubin, thanks to discov­eries showing how the regulatory protein contributes to numerous illnesses, including Alzheimer's disease, cancers and muscular wasting. With "many, many tar­gets across many indications," says Rubin, "people are thirsting for information."
 
Cognia Catabolism is part of a planned expansion, says Merold, and builds on technology devel­oped for Cognia Molecular, which integrates public and subscriber data for drug research; several charter users have been testing the system since February.
 
Cognia's expansion also meant new assignments for Merold and Rubin. Rubin, formerly Cognia's CEO and president, assumed his new job earlier this year when Bob Merold joined the company full-time after serving on the Cognia board for several years. The moves came as part of a "planned evolu­tion," says Merold, and Rubin's new job "leverages his strong sci­entific background" so he can drive product design.
 
Rubin says his six-year stint as an early-stage CEO gave him insights into markets and custom­ers, so Cognia's ideas for up to 75 proprietary databases "focus on expanding on what the initial core vision was." The databases form the foundation for Merold's plan to build a $100 million company within five years. Expansion has already doubled Cognia's staff from 20 to 40 since January, and Merold says Cognia "will actually double the size of the company [again] by the end of the year."
 
Merold expects further Cognia growth to become a reality with new venture capital money that augments United States and Scottish government grants, angel investments and nondiluted capital that Cognia has collected since its founding in 2000. The Scottish government's $10 million grant funds a three-year program for building a text-mining plat­form that leverages work at the University of Edinburgh in natural language algorithms. The platform has yielded a working prototype that Cognia says will enable rapid construction of new subscription databases for drug discovery.
 
"We're very interested in select­ing therapeutic areas and drilling down," says Rubin, to find indi­cations and targets, and gather sophisticated repositories of data that interest researchers. The ubiq­uitin product is "all part of a mas­ter plan here," says Merold, add­ing that Cognia intends to develop many more databases soon.
 
Code: E070603

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