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June 19, 2012

OpenBEL Invites Scientific Community Participation

Think of it as a Wikipedia project but much more sophisticated. Selventa is a healthcare company that has taken a dynamic approach in developing a computable ecosystem where the scientific community is encouraged to record their scientific research. The company’s release of their Biological Expression Language (BEL) open-source platform is offered to the scientific community in order to develop an evolving network that will hopefully speed up the process of treatments for diseases such as Alzheimer’s and diabetes. The OpenBEL Consortium consists of software engineers, pharmaceutical companies, not-for-profit organizations and academic institutions, such as the Harvard Medical School.

Selventa’s biological expression language is a standardized format for recording findings related to molecular biology using a computerized system. The company describes BEL as “intuitive, use-neutral, open, computable, and portable.” Accompanying the language is the BEL Framework and BEL Portal. By centralizing complicated biological data, there is a more efficient means of speeding up the development of important medical research.

Martin Hofmann-Apitius, professor at the Fraunhofer (News - Alert) Institute for Algorithms and Scientific Computing, is an example of a BEL user. He adss, “From my own experience in my laboratory, BEL has been an extremely useful tool in building computable models for Alzheimer's disease. If you can apply it to disease understanding in the brain, where it has been notoriously difficult, then it can be applied for many other diseases. I've seen the utility of BEL and I am very excited to lead the scientific steering committee for the OpenBEL Consortium."

Before Selventa, experts claim that there were no other “databases for causal relationships.” Seleventa has kept their BEL platform inclusive for the past ten years. Now, that Selventa has made their platform public, they plan on meeting with consortiums periodically in the future in order to discuss recent developments. 

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Edited by Brooke Neuman

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