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Selventa Releases OpenBEL as Open Source and Encourages the Community to Participate in an OpenBEL Consortium

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – June 18, 2012 – Selventa™, a biomarker discovery company that enables personalized healthcare, announced today that the Company has publicly released its Biological Expression Language (BEL) and the associated BEL Framework as an open source platform called OpenBEL. OpenBEL is intended to enable the community at large to capture, store, share, and leverage life sciences content through a widespread knowledge ecosystem. Interested users can learn more about this initiative at or
“Selventa has successfully used BEL and its framework for biological network analysis, disease modeling, understanding drug efficacy and toxicity, mechanisms for drug sensitivity and resistance, and other Research and Development related projects with its pharmaceutical partners,” said David de Graaf, President and CEO of Selventa. “This is a key asset to Selventa and we want to share this innovation with the scientific community through the OpenBEL Consortium. We anticipate that there will be a high adoption of this language because representing complex biological content as simplified, computable semantic triples will provide the ability to use and recycle experimental observations and make them computationally accessible.”
Selventa recently hosted an OpenBEL Summit to engage various organizations to participate in the OpenBEL Consortium. Summit attendees included representatives from pharmaceutical companies (e.g. Pfizer, Merck, etc.), software/tools companies (e.g. IDBS, Linguamatics, Entagen, etc.), content providers (e.g. Thomson Reuters, etc.), as well as academic, governmental and non-profit institutions (e.g. Fraunhofer Institute, Broad Institute, Harvard Medical School, OpenPHACTS, etc.). In early 2011, Selventa announced joint technology collaboration with Pfizer to develop a knowledge-sharing portal to make BEL broadly available as an open source solution for non-proprietary research and technology development. Since then, the idea has flourished and facilitated innovative uses. To showcase the utility, various use cases of BEL such as a Cytoscape plug-in for network visualization, causal reasoning for disease mechanism understanding, electronic workbook integration, BEL-to-RDF translation and vice versa, text mining in BEL, and nanopublication concepts were presented at the OpenBEL Summit.
“The Summit provided a great discussion forum as to how we can leverage OpenBEL to non-competitively enhance our own research and discovery efforts,” said Martin Hofmann-Apitius, Professor at the Fraunhofer Institute for Algorithms and Scientific Computing (SCAI). “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.”
The OpenBEL Consortium will be created to drive the community adoption of BEL, share in the evolution of the platform by defraying development costs, and ultimately to facilitate innovation as well as enhance Research and Development productivity.
About Selventa
Founded in 2002 and privately held, Selventa collaborates with partners to match the optimal treatments for the right patients. The company analyzes molecular patient data to identify key disease-driving mechanisms and accelerates the development process to clarify therapeutic and diagnostic decisions through identification and development of biomarkers for patient stratification. Selventa engages in strategic relationships with leading pharmaceutical and life science companies, including clinical research organizations, diagnostic companies, and reference laboratories, to enable personalized healthcare primarily in autoimmune diseases and oncology.  For more information, visit
For more information, please contact:
Diane H. Song, Ph.D., 617-547-5421 x235

Paul Kidwell, 617-296-3854