I received an email newsletter this morning from the Pistoia Alliance and it was so full of information and updates that I decided to post the entire newsletter as an article. A note on the Pistoia Alliance is long overdue. I had meant to write an article on the Alliance back in April after the 2014 Bio-IT World conference organizers announced that Pistoia's HELM project had been chosen as one of the Grand prize winners.
HELM, which stands for Hierarchical Editing Language for Macromolecules, is a system of standardized naming for complex biomolecules, which defines these molecules as rigorously as chemists have long defined simpler compounds. As noted by the Bio-IT World jury, "by describing biomolecules through a hierarchical sequence of monomers, the open source HELM technology allows researchers and organizations to rapidly enter, share, and modify molecules without ambiguity." This project is leading to a quantum leap and collaboration in the bioresearch field.
The Pistoia Alliance, working together with quattro research, just released an “Exchangeable HELM” file format. This new file format "allows a HELM biomolecule set to include the structure definition of its component monomers, in essence combining the biomolecules and relevant subset of the monomer database into a single, portable file." More details can be found in this press release as well as in the Pistoia Alliance newsletter.
As for the Pistoia Alliance story, it is a not-for-profit organization founded during a meeting at the Italian town of Pistoia in 2009. The Alliance "is committed to lowering the barriers to innovation in life sciences R&D by improving the interoperability of R&D business processes through precompetitive collaboration." Pistoia "draws its membership widely from life science R&D including Pharma R&D, commercial information providers, technology companies and publicly-funded research institutes."
The Pistoia Alliance, which currently has 82 members, is creating "a virtual, open-innovation community" by bringing together the key stakeholders to "identify the root causes that lead to life science R&D inefficiencies and then develops best practices, technology implementations and standards to overcome these common obstacles."
More details about the Alliance's activities, as well as upcoming meetings and presentations, can be found in this post. In addition, Open Health News has been collecting news stories and press releases on the Pistoia Alliance for quite some time. Those can be found here.