Ceres Licenses DNA Browser Software to Bayer CropScience - Tucson News Now

Ceres Licenses DNA Browser Software to Bayer CropScience

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SOURCE Ceres, Inc.

- Company will pursue additional enterprise-grade installations among life science companies

- Software as a Service option planned for broader research community

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif., July 8, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Ceres, Inc. (NASDAQ: CERE), an agricultural biotechnology and seed company, today announced that the company has licensed its Persephone genome visualization application to Bayer CropScience. The multi-year software license and collaboration agreement provides a non-exclusive license to Bayer as well as professional services including support, customizations and maintenance. Bayer is the second multi-national life sciences company to license Persephone as its primary genome browser. 

Originally developed for in-house use by Ceres, Persephone allows researchers to rapidly zoom in and out of massive amounts of genetic data, from a chromosome level to a single building block of DNA. On top of this data, users can layer and cross reference related information in much the same way geographic mapping services allow users to add weather information or business locations to a geographic map.

"We are proud to have Bayer select Persephone as its primary genome browser for its in-house R&D, and we look forward to working with Bayer for many years to come," said Richard Hamilton, President and CEO of Ceres. "The explosion of low cost full genome DNA sequencing, from plant science to biomedical research, is creating incredibly large data sets that are rich sources of information if mined effectively.  Persephone provides us with a significant near-term opportunity to leverage our expertise in bioinformatics and genetic analysis, while accelerating our own internal research and development work," Hamilton said.

Dr. Jakob de Vlieg, Head of the Computational Life Sciences group at Bayer CropScience said, "Our company will benefit from implementing this integrated solution, as this platform is allowing interactive querying and integrated visualization of various omics data. The Persephone genome browser impressed both our geneticists and bioinformaticians with its performance and user friendly interface. Persephone will allow them to make decisions on experimental approaches."

Tim Swaller, Ceres' Vice President of Genomics Technologies, noted that speed is taken for granted across most software markets, but the genetics market has struggled with massive datasets generated by DNA sequencing and genetic testing. For instance, a typical genome contains multiple terabytes of data. Plant genomes, which can be larger than the human genome, have been some of the most challenging.

To help solve the speed problem, and expand the way researchers can explore and mine genetic data, Persephone software engineers have developed a number of proprietary data-compression methods and other optimizations. "The speed itself changes the way researchers can use their data. It encourages more exploratory research and better utilization of genetic data," said Swaller. Ceres has used Persephone in its marker-assisted breeding and biotech trait pipelines to speed the development of elite parental breeding lines and improved sorghum hybrids for Brazil.

Swaller said that Persephone can be deployed across a number of life science technology platforms that utilize genetic data. Ceres currently offers Persephone as a client-server installation and is developing a Software as a Service (SaaS) model that is intended to provide individual researchers with an online tool to visualize and compare genetic information stored in public databases. The company has targeted the deployment of a cloud-based beta version of Persephone by the end of this year.

"We believe there is a large number of individual researchers currently that could benefit from the Persephone interface," Swaller said. He noted that Ceres is also exploring opportunities for the software outside of the plant sciences.

About Persephone
Persephone is a genome visualization application marketed by Ceres, Inc. The software allows researchers to explore DNA databases in much the same way online mapping programs allow users to explore geographic regions and places. Persephone has been designed to display diverse data such as genetic maps, genomic sequences, gene models, synteny, QTLs, SNPs, RNA-Seq, and gene expression, among others. The software features an ultra-fast graphics-rendering engine that can load and visualize 30 million SNPs in 30 seconds in client-server installations. Persephone is a trademark of Ceres, Inc.

About Ceres
Ceres, Inc. is an agricultural biotechnology company that markets seeds for energy crops used in the production of renewable transportation fuels, electricity and bio-based products. The company also licenses its genetics technology, software and biotech traits to other organizations.

Ceres Forward-Looking Statements
This press release may contain forward-looking statements. All statements, other than statements of historical facts, including statements regarding Ceres' efforts to develop and commercialize its products, anticipated yields and product performance, status of crop plantings, short-term and long-term business strategies, market and industry expectations, future operating metrics, and future results of operations and financial position, including anticipated cost savings from our plan to align expenditures, are forward-looking statements. You should not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements because they involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that are, in some cases, beyond Ceres' control. Factors that could materially affect actual results can be found in Ceres' filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Ceres undertakes no obligation to update publicly, except to the extent required by law, any forward-looking statements for any reason after the date the company issues this press release to conform these statements to actual results or to changes in the company's expectations.

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