The Status of the Infrastructure of Information Resources Supporting U.S. Biotechnology

Presented at the Capital Area Biotechnology Information Network (CABIN) meeting, Center for Advanced Research in Biotechnology (CARB; Rockville, MD), University of Maryland, Dec. 5, 1989. Also presented and circulated with the title, "Biotechnology Information: Into the 1990s." Many, if not most, of my observations and conclusions remain unchanged.

Ronald A. Rader
[at the time] Manager of Information Services, Porton International, Inc.*,
727 15th St., N.W., Washington, DC 20005

In the 1980's, genetic engineering, recombinant DNA and other biological technologies facilitated an explosion of scientific research and information in molecular, microbial and cellular biology. Much enabling technology, especially rDNA and hybridoma technology, was developed, refined and disseminated to the point where today most any and every biological research lab and researcher is routinely using these techniques and products. Biotechnology companies and most larger chemical and pharmaceutical began R&D to develop useful products using these research tools and information. An infrastructure of biotechnology information resources began to develop (1).

Easily, billions of dollars have been invested by taxpayers and investors in the past few decades in biological and especially biomedical research. As we enter the 1990's, we are only just beginning to observe the fruits of these collective investments and efforts in biological R&D in the form of biologically-derived products and services - biotechnology. In the 1990's, hundreds of useful products, many of which will effect our daily lives, will enter the market and become widely available. From its current $5-10 billion/year level, the biotechnology industry will grow by an order of magnitude to $50-100 billion/year and make major contributions to the U.S. and world's economies, health and welfare. Biotechnology is changing from a research-oriented and -dominated activity, slowly maturing into a market-driven industrial activity characterized by international competition for markets and technology/product development.

More and better information resources are required to support the development of biotechnology, particularly information resources to effectively support commercialization of biotechnology and to maintain the current U.S. lead in biotechnology. There are some inadequacies and imbalances in the array of available biotechnology information resources, especially when biotechnology is viewed as a technological and commericial activity, rather than as a molecular and microbial biological research activity. Most available biotechnology information resources lack the orientation and sophistication required for a large and growing number of users and uses. Information resources are needed concerning biotechnology products and processes in commerce and activities essential to the success of biotechnology, including regulations, biosafety and public information.. For example, there are no reference books or factual databases concerning any of the major classes of biotechnology products, e.g., biopharmaceuticals, agricultural or industrial biotechnology products. These information resources are needed to facilitate the maturation and successful development of biotechnology.

Biotech Information Sources vs. Resources

A distinction will be made between information sources and resources. This presentation concentrates on information resources. Information sources are primary source of information, usually in the form of publications, such as journals, reports, and newsletters, which present and report information. Information resources generally organize information and facilitate retrieval or retrospective access to information, data and documents. Information resources may include: abstracting and indexing services; bibliographic, factual and numeric-type databases; directories; catalogs; dictionaries; substance and organism registries; classification schemes, indexing languages and thesauari; nomenclature systems; libraries and information centers; clearinghouses and; referral services.

A very large and growing number of biotechnology-related primary sources of information exist. These include journals, meetings, conferences and proceedings, books, technical reports, and trade publications. Other sources of information for biotechnology include a number of often costly newsletters and multi-client reports.

Although we can always use more and better information sources, there does not seem to be major problems is this area. If anything, there is too much information becoming available for any one or organization to effectively acquire and assimilate. That is why information resources are so important.

A good overview of information in biotechnology has been published (2). Brief descriptions of most available private-sector information sources may be found here, along with much introductory and explanatory text. A number of other biotechnology-relevant information resources are described in the online Directory of Biotechnology Information Resources (DBIR) and the Federal Biotechnology Information Resources Directory (3).

The Nature of Biotechnology (Information)

Biotechnology involves the transfer and transformation of scientific information and knowledge into useful technologies and products.

Biotchnology involves three basic and related aspects:
1) Science - research
2) Technology - development and testing; know-how; intellectual property (patents); technology transfer; scale-up
3) Commerce - production, marketing and sales; regulatory affairs; investment; societal concerns; education.

Biotechnology information reflects these basics aspects of biotechnology.

Biotechnology has different meanings, depending on its context and who is using the term. Biotechnology information reflects the diversity of what is being referred to at the moment as being biotechnology. Too often in the U.S., the term biotechnology is used to primarily refer to biological and biomedical research in general. For example, much basic molecular biology and genetics research is called biotechnology. We need to be aware that biotechnology involves and ultimately results in useful industrial products and technology, not just useful masses of research data and information. An analogy demonstrating the use of words is the difference between pharmacology (as a research activity) and pharmaceutical development (as an industrial activity).

From a disciplinary and professional perspective, biotechnology is a multidisciplinary, fragmented activity. The diverse sciences and professions upon which biotechnology builds include many chemical and biological sciences, such as microbiology, biochemistry, genetics, molecular biology, toxicology, pharmacology, and bioengineering. This interplay of disciplines and specialties is reflected in the numerous professional and trade organizations representing scientists and institutions involved in biotechnology.
Fragmentation in biotechnology becomes even more apparent, when one realizes the diverse industries and applications involving biotechnology, including industrial activities in pharmaceuticals and diagnostics, agriculture, food, energy, waste processing, and commodity and specialty chemicals.

The fragmented and diverse nature of biotechnology, combined with its relative newness as a distinct activity, is a major contributing factor to the lack and need for more and better biotechnology information resources.

Biotech Abstracting and Indexing Resources

Secondary sources, notably abstracting and indexing publications and bibliographic databases, are information resources routinely organizing and summarizing information about information sources and their contents. Besides scanning of journals, these are usually the main means for keeping up with all types of developments and are among the few ways to retrospectively search and retrieve the published literature.

Examination of available abstracting and indexing services convering aspects of biotechnology, especially those produced in the U.S., reveal that they are almost all spin-off or derivative (subset) products from major broader coverage scientific research-oriented information services. A few are oriented to covering commercial news and activities in biotechnology. A number of the better and more technological and commercially-oriented services come from foreign countries, particularly U.K and Europe.

Coverage of biotechnology-related research publications in available abstracting and indexing services is very good to excellent. A number of large biomedical, chemical, agricultural and other abstracting services provide quality abstracts and indexing of the primary literature.

However, there are few (or no) major U.S.-based or oriented secondary services concering a number of areas critical to the practical concerns and success of biotechnology. This includes a lack of information resources and activities covering biotechnology products, technologies, processes, patents, biosafety, regulatory and safety evaluations, foreign biotechnology efforts, translations and other needed information. Improved coverage and indexing by existing secondary sources and development of new, specialized resources is needed in these and other areas. Biotechnology-related activities, information users and their needs are growing and are such that specialized information resources and document collections are appropriate, needed and should be available.

The general weakness and lack of support for a commercial market in the U.S. for biotechnology information was discussed in an earlier presentation (1). While the general biomedical research community and federal programs support diverse research-oriented information and data resources, information activities and resources concerning more commercial and technological aspects of biotechnology find it difficult to become self-supporting or commercially successful. This phenomena persists.

Recently, several major biotechnology abstracting services have been terminated due to lack of sufficient revenues. Telegen, an abstract/indexing publication and online database, announced discontinuation of its services, due to lack of sufficient sales and profits. Similarly, Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) has terminated it PharmPat and AgPat online patent databases. Federal assistance in the form of support for user/market surveys and feasibility and product design and development grants may be appropriate and required to give life to a diversity of new, needed information resources in biotechnology.

Terminology, Nomenclature and Indexing Schemes

The diverse nature of biotechnology complicates terminology and information handling. For example, there are many ways to define and characterize biotechnology-related organisms, their products and components, and processes. One can identify and describe organisms and their products based on sequences and structures of DNA/RNA and proteins, uses and applications, observable characteristics and appearance, metabolic activities, and other parameters. Most of the ways in which biotechnology products, processes and organisms are described are dependent on generic and hierarchical relationships. Product, strain and other registries need to include more descriptive information and linkages and express the polyhierarchical relationships among entries.

Terminology used in biotechnology is far from standardized. In many cases, terminology and definitions change frequently with advancing research. Sometimes it may be purposefully ambiguous or unclear to broaden and obscure boundaries of patent coverage (4).

A workshop sponsored by the National Library of Medicine (NLM) of the National Research Council Committee on Biotechnology Nomenclature and Information Organization was held in May 1986 (5). The Committee reported that terminology, taxonomies, nomenclature, classification schemes, etc. in biotechnology are suboptimal. This includes the terminology used by scientists, such as the fabricated terms used for transposable genetic elements, the undeveloped or nonexistant nomenclatures for biotechnology products and processes, and the biological and chemical nomenclatures now in use.

Biological nomenclature currently provides taxonomic descriptions of whole organisms and does not extend to their components or below the species level, which are the levels at which most biotechnology functions. Similarly, chemical nomenclature is not oriented to complex macro- and multi-molecular biological materials. These nomenclatures break down when applied to recombinant organisms, cell lines, genetic elements, modified proteins, antibodies and other biotechnology materials.

Indexing and subject access in most secondary sources and other biotechnology-related information resources is rather primitive. Current subject indexing in most resources either involves very simple and general classification schemes, employs keywords (no controlled indexing), or employs the classification and indexing schemes of parent broader coverage, research-oriented resources. Few (or no) indexing languages adequately cover and integrate the three basic aspects of biotechnology.

NLM, CAS and other biomedical and chemical classification schemes have been considerably expanded to handle the growing biotechnology and biomedical scientific literature. However, there has not been enough expansion or development of classification and registry schemes from a practical, technological and commercial perspective, e.g., to include biotechnology products and processes.

Few or no nomenclature, substance registry or indexing systems reflect the distinct nature of biological products in commerce. For almost every practical purpose, especially when considered by others involved in biotechnology, biological products are each distinct. There is little or no precedent for a generic biotechnology product, i.e., where the product and active ingredient(s) are considered the same, such as is common for chemical entity drugs. For example, an enzyme (vaccine or╩any other biotech product) expressed in yeasts, mammalian cells or another expression system or by a different manufacturer is unique and distinct for all practical purposes. This is underscored by the federal government's policies of evaluating biotech products on a case-by-case basis, especially in the evaluation of therapeutics and environmental effects.

Products in commerce, particularly those about which a significant number of publications appear, should be indexed and registered as distinct. For example, asparaginase used for treatment of leukemia from Porton Int. is very different from asparaginase from Merck and should be so designated in substance-specific chemical registries and indexing. Recognition of the uniqueness, structurally and commercially, of biotech products will considerably facilitate retrieval and avoid mix-ups. This is especially true in the handling of information concerning biotech pharmaceuticals (biologics) and in vitro diagnostics.

The lack of biotechnology-oriented subject classification and registry schemes generally makes information retrieval and coordination more difficult, haphazard, and keeps information organization and exchange on a simplistic level.

Sequence, Strain and Genome Information Resources

In the area of protein and nucleotide sequence databases, current sequence information resources are struggling to keep up with the ever-growing published data. The major databases have reduced the amount of annotations (nonsequence data) recorded, capturing only the sequences and little other data. However, recent and upcoming efforts and capabilities for linking records among these databases will significantly improve access to this information.

The National Center for Biotechnology Information has been established within the National Library of Medicine (NLM). It is primarily working to assure adequate integration of molecular and microbial data and information resources. NLM will play significant roles in the design and development of data systems to handle and integrate human and other genome data. These efforts are assured continual funding on the order of $10 million/year.

Recently, NLM has begun to provide linkages to sequence data systems where this information is cited in the literature they index. This is a major advance and needed feature for those concerned with access to sequence data. Software to be introduced soon by NLM will facilitate cross-file and integrated searching of diverse biomedical research and sequence databases. After this technology is proven, we can hope that the same type of capabilities will be adapted to biotechnology, especially providing linkages and integrating biotechnology product, process, patent, technology and other online databases.

From the perspective of those seeking to develop useful products and innovations, patents are critically important. However, there is still no publicly accessible database which fully covers nucleotide and peptide sequences described in patent disclosures. Chemical Abstracts Services (CAS) has recently initiated a fee-based Biopolymer Sequence service based on an in-house-only database. The Patent Office has begun efforts to assure consistent reporting of sequence data in patent applications and is in the planning stages of a biotechnology patent application database which will include sequence data.

There appears to be considerable activity and a developing, healthy array of information resources concerning microbial strains, cell cultures and biological research materials. Many of these are part of the Microbial Strain Data Network (MSDN). Culture collections worldwide have developed public databases of their holdings. The largest and most notable is the American Type Culture Collection (ATCC, Rockville, MD). ATCC has recently published Microbes At Work, which indexes ATCC microbial holdings by their useful products and processes.

The mapping and sequencing of the human and other organisms' genomes are largely efforts to generate and organize masses of research data and make this data and information useful. These massive undertakings deserve strong support from all involved in biotechnology. Like the large bibliographic databases, they cover the masses of research reported.

However, massive genome and sequencing efforts should be viewed as primarily biological research efforts, not biotechnology. Less than 20% of biotechnology activities, as reflected in U.S. biotechnology patents, involves any type of recombinant technology or genetic recombination. Thus, large-scale sequence, genome and strain data systems are relatively removed from the mainstream of present and future industrial biotechnology-relevant information. Although they hold much very valuble and ultimately practical data, they are primarily oriented to organizing huge masses of biological research data. Basic researchers will be the primary users of these systems. Only a minority of larger, research-intensive companies and organizations will significantly use these systems for directed biotech product and technology development. Claiming these database efforts as biotechnology and exploitation of the good will accumulated by the U.S. biotechnology industry to extensively promote and seek funding for such data systems, as has been done by some supporters of the U.S. efforts, should not be encouraged.

Biotechnology Information Economics

Many available biotechnology information resources have yet to successfully establish their niches in the U.S. information marketplace (1). Many biotechnology information resources find proportionately greater interest, market penetration, and major markets in foreign countries, primarily Japan and Western Europe. A significant proportion of the better, commercial and competitive information resources originate from Europe.

The primary reason for a sluggish U.S. demand and market for biotechnology information resources is the fact that biotechnology efforts have yet to make a profit. Most biotech companies and R&D efforts are still spending vast sums on research, development and regulatory-oriented testing. Few companies have significantly profitable products or technology on the market, yet. Where they do, these organizations are plowing their money back into research and development.

Other reasons for low information resources demand and usage include: a general lack of recognition of the value of information and information resources as strategic long- and short-term assets; lack of knowledge and exposure to specialized information resources among those most involved in biotechnology who mostly come from research and academic backgrounds and; lack of supporting and highly visible national programs, information centers and activities.

Most U.S. organizations involved in biotechnology, including most biotechnology companies, are relatively weak in information resources, capabilities, and expertise. For the most part, information handling and documentation is haphazard and unorganized. Biotechnology companies with a library/information center or an even partially dedicated information professional are a distinct minority. This situation occurs even in many well-funded biotechnology companies with considerable research and development activities. Biotechnology companies, on the whole, do not budget for information handling and organization, as do more established companies involved in pharmaceutical and chemical research and development. Established chemical and pharmaceutical industries spend on the order of 2% of their research and development budget for related library/information centers, resources and staff, but this is not the norm in biotechnology companies.

Exceptions may be found in the established pharmaceutical and chemical firms becoming involved in biotechnology, most of which have information centers/libraries and information specialists thoroughly integrated into their research, development, marketing, and regulatory affairs efforts (6). However, even these organizations with world-class biomedical and chemical information resources and expertise feel insecure and recognize weaknesses in their abilities to access and control relevant biotechnology information.

Biotechnology executives, managers and researchers fail to recognize the value and provide support for building and providing information resources, services, and expertise within their own organizations. They often complain about having more information than they can assimilate. However, without a library or in-house information resources, they likely are missing out on the information they may really need and that their organization should have long-term, in-house ready access to.

A situation of information rich vs. information poor may arise in biotechnology. An elite of larger or more information savvy biotechnology, pharmaceutical and other companies, many in foreign countries, may be better able to conduct cost-effective research, development, commercialization, regulatory affairs, obtain and defend patents, and survive in the world marketplace. With the history of most significant biotechnology innovations and developments arising from small U.S. companies, universities, and research institutions, this may have broad strategic implications for these organizations and the U.S economy.

Some major biotechnology companies have sucessfully become information vendors through commercialization of initially in-house information resources. More of this is needed and should be encouraged. Examples include Abstracts in BioCommerce, originally developed by Celltech in Britain, the AGRIBUSINESS database developed by Pioneer Hybrid, and the BioScan corporate activities directory originally developed by Cetus/Chiron Corporation. To some extent, BioINVENTION, Antiviral Agents Bulletin, the Federal Biotechnology Programs Directory, Federal Biotechnology Information Resoureces Directory and other publications of OMEC Int. produced by this author are spin-offs of Information Services provided to a parent biotechnology company.

Many companies are finding that information resources and activites are marketing assets. This will lead to more activity in this area. Often, companies distribute extensive bibliographies and provide extensive technical assistance. A growing number of companies have begun to operate their own online networks with product-related databases, online ordering and electronic mail. Suppliers' catalogs are looking more like refernece books.

Canon Communications, publisher of BioTechniques and other product-related and trade publications has recently introduced BioTechNet. This will be an online network of databases and electronic mail capabilities meant to be a "one-stop shopping center" of information and services for biological researchers. The anchor for BioTechNet will be online catalogs and ordering capabilities for a number of major biochemical and reagent companies.

Examples of new biotechnology information resources entering the marketplace include BIOWORLD and a biotechnology technology transfer information system from Delco Scientific Resources. BIOWORLD from the publishers of BioVenture View is an online network which will include daily news coverage for biotechnology, the BioScan biotechnology company directory, online conferencing, expert discussion groups in topics such as biotech patents, and other services. It appears primarily oriented to executives, investors and other corporate-level players in biotechnology. Delco Scientific, known as a producer of multi-client reports, is starting to offer services based on an in-house database covering biotechnology technology transfer opportunities, mostly patents and products available for licensing, and organizations seeking corporate collaborators and funding.

International Competition in Biotechnology Information

The U.S. presently is the leader in most aspects of biotechnology, primarily due to the considerable basic biomedical and life sciences research efforts of the federal government and a strong entrepeneural industrial sector of biotechnology companies which has built upon this research (7). Similarly, many large and established chemical, pharmaceutical, biomedical, agricultural and other U.S. firms have become very involved in biotechnology research, development, and commercialization.

However, a number of foreign governments have targeted biotechnology as an important area where they are developing coodinated national efforts to challenge U.S. research and market preeminence. Development of information resources is formally recognized as an important component in many of these efforts.

The European Communities (Common Market) has sponsored the European Biotechnology Information Program (EBIP), recently renamed the Biotechnology Information Service (BIS), which operates within the British Library. In many respects, BIS can serve as a model for some biotechnology information activities needed in the U.S. BIS is oriented to biotechnology as ultimately a commercial activity essential to the health of European Communities' economies and citizens. This program has sponsored an annual meeting concerning biotechnology information, provides expert information services and consultation on demand,╩publishes a monthly bibliography of publications and studies in biotechnology (Biotechnology Knowledge Sources). BIS also actively analyzes and reviews the strategic information requirements of its member countries' research and commercial institutions.

The BIS and EC approach to biotechnology information is significant in its more practical and coordination efforts. Such activities and approaches are lacking among the U.S. federal biotechnogy-related information programs. There is no (BIS-comparable) publicly available and supported center of biotechnology information resources and expertise in the U.S. The type of information services and in-house databases developed by the state-supported North Carolina Biotechnology Center deserve emulation and support. However, these services are fee-based. Biotechnology is a sufficiently important economic and scientific activity that multiple, specialized, federally-supported information centers and clearinghouses should be established, much as many other developing technologies and industries, such as a number of energy-related technologies, have federally-assisted, supporting information resources.

The Japanese government has well established and coordinated industrial biotechnology research and development programs and research centers. These often include specialized information organization and sharing activites. In many ways Japanese biotechnology-involved organizations seem more oriented to applying information in their R&D efforts and strategic decision making than Americans. The Japanese are momentarily lagging behind the U.S. and Europe in resources devoted to large-scale sequence data efforts, such as participation in international genome sequence efforts. Perhaps, they see little ultimate advantage in these for their biotechnology efforts, even if they are cut out of direct access to the data collected as has been proposed.

Foreign information resources and activities are worthy of our attention. In many respects, foreign biotechnology information resources and programs are meager by U.S. standards. However, it is noteworthy that they are more attuned to developing, coordinating and applying biotechnology information for strategic, technological and commerical advantage, while U.S. efforts concentrate on research data and activities. Foreign efforts are more cognisant of the critical information needs of biotechnology industry efforts, while U.S. federal programs seemingly purposely avoid commercial and technological needs and applications.

International competitiveness and encouragement of innovation are ever growing issues in the U.S. Information resources are not a solution to U.S. problems in these areas. However, information resources need to be recognized as a limiting factor for competitiveness and innovation at both the organizational and national level.

Federal Biotechnology Information

The federal government is the single main organization responsible for and involved in biotechnology. Biotechnology has developed from federally funded research. This remains the primary impetus for biotechnology research and development activity in the U.S. and the reason for acknowledged U.S. leadership in the field. Federal agencies spend on the order of $2 billion/year for biotechnology and related research and this level of spending will likely be maintained (8,9). Despite major U.S. federal and private interests and investments in biotechnology, the federal government has not initiated development of biotechnology information resources to support a variety of national needs and federal mandates. Information resources development and information dissemination has not been integrated into biotechnology coordination and regulatory activities.

OMEC International, Inc. has published the Federal Biotechnology Information Resources Directory , describing over 470 federal biotechnology-relevant information resources, and the Federal Biotechnology Program Directory (10), describing over 470 biotechnology-relevant research, regulatory, technology transfer and other federal programs and activites. Together, these provide a comprehensive description of the infrastructure of federal resources and programs supporting and affecting biotechnology.
From this, it can be observed that most federal biotechnology-related information resources and programs are not specific for biotechnology. Rather, they support underlying or related basic research, or more generalized regulatory or other agency activities.

Major ongoing federal biotechnology information resources and activities include: GENBANK and other nucleotide sequence database systems; the Protein Identification Resource (PIR) protein sequence database; the Microbial Strain Data Network (MSDN), a directory to culture collections' holdings; and the National Library of Medicine's online Directory of Biotechnology Information Resources (DBIR) and efforts to link molecular and microbial biology databases.

Biotechnology Safety and Regulatory Information Resources

There are few, if any, information resources available to assist in assessments of novel biotechnology products and organisms, or which make this information available to the biotechnology and scientific communities and general public. There are significant efforts efforts to organize masses of research and biological properties data, such as the Microbial Strain Data Network (MSDN), MICRO-IS concerning microorganism identification and properties, the Hybridoma Data Bank. However, insufficient resources and efforts are directed to organizing information directly relevant to products in or approaching, including the existing literature and safety and regulatory evalations.

Efforts and resources to collect and make available regulatory information, evaluations and and even official documents are totally lacking. Despite the existence of the Biotechnology Sciences Coordination Committee (BSCC) and inter- and intra-agency efforts to coordinate regulation of biotechnology, there are still no collections or indexes to biotechnology regulatory reviews, scientific literature and other documents concerning biosafety and biological hazards. How can federal agencies, Institutional Biosafety Committees or any one else assess the safety of novel bioechnology products, organisms and processes when appropriate information is not readily accessible and even simple document collections do not exist?

The lack of biotechnology information resources, accessible information, and infrastucture development in these areas is already having an adverse impact on U.S. biotechnology. This is most obvious in the related areas of regulation and oversight of research and premarket testing, safety and hazard assessment, information dissemination, and public (mis)perception and (mis)understanding of biotechnology-related hazards. Biotechnology requires reliable, organized and accessible information to facilitate public confidence and predictability in regulatory and oversight actions.

The infrastructure of information resources supporting chemical safety and evaluation efforts should be examined as a model for biotechnology (11). Information resources have long been recognized as critical to the assessment and dissemination of chemical and toxicology information. Many federal laws regulating chemical hazards even mandate information collection and resources development. Currently, there are no on-going efforts to develop any comparable efforts for biotechnology or to adapt and upgrade chemical-toxicology systems to handle biotechnology pr┐duct information. Development of information resources and increased nformation availability may be an effective altermative or deterent to costly and undesirable, inefficient, mandated regulatory information collection programs. The biotechnology industry should support information resources development, if only to avert costly regulations.

The lack of biotechnology product and process safety-related information resources is likely to make itself more evident as more legal, regulatory, and safety-related delays, uncertainties, and misjudgements. Both small biotechnology companies and large, established firms have made significant errors in the design of premarket testing strategy, protocols, and information provided (or not provided) to government agencies and the public. Although the slowly advancing, unresolved and uncoordinated nature of regulation and oversight within and among the federal and other government agencies is a major factor in regulatory and judicial delays and uncertainties, the general lack of organized and accessible information is a strong contributing factor.

No fatal or other significant biotechnology-related accidents or adverse environmental modifications have occurred, yet, but there are ample examples to be taken from the chemical industry of unidentified and misassessed hazards resulting in mishaps, public and environmental health hazards, and corporate liabilities. Multiple information resources organizing and making available information from a variety of approaches for diverse users are needed.

Conclusions - Recommendations

Biotechnology is beginning to evolve out of its early research intensive and dependent phases. In the 1990's, biotechnology will establish itself as a significant economic and societal activity with product development, testing and marketing outweighing research activities. The infrastructure of available information resources supporting biotechnology is primarily oriented to research. The largest segment of biotechnology information users and more critical information needs will be for commercial, technological and product-related, rather than research, information. All persons and organizations significantly concerned with the advancement of U.S. biotechnology should assist the development of needed information resources.


1. Rader, R.A., "Status of the Infrastructure of Information Resources Supporting U.S. Biotechnology," Impact of Chemistry on Biotechnology, ACS Symposium Series Book No. 362, Chapter 32, p. 375-85, 1988. (Presented at the "Biotechnology Information" session chaired by the author, ACS Nat. Meeting, Sept. 7, 1986, Anaheim, CA).

2. Crafts-Lighty, A., Information Sources in Biotechnology, 2nd ed., Nature Press, New York, 1986.

3. Rader, R., et al., OMEC International Inc., Federal Biotechnology Information Resources Directory, Washington, DC, 1987. (See ref. 10).

4. Meyers, N., "Biotechnology Patents: Don't Say Just What You Mean," Nature, vol. 324, p. 504, Dec. 11, 1986.

5. Committee on Biotechnology Nomenclature and Information Organization, National Research Council, Biotechnology Nomenclature and Information Organization, National Academy Press, 1986.

6. Brown, H. D., "A Drug is Born: Its Information Facets in Pharmaceutical Research and Development," J. Chem. Info. and Comp. Sci., vol. 25, pp. 218-224, 1985.

7. Office of Technology Assessment, Commercial Biotechnology: An International Analysis, OTA-BA-218, Government Printing Office, January 19, 1986.

8. Office of Technology Assessment, Public Funding of Biotechnology Research and Training, (in press), workshop held Sept. 9, 1986, Washington, DC.

9. Perpich, J. G., "A Federal Strategy for International Industrial Competiveness," Bio/Technology, vol. 4, pp. 522-525, June, 1986.

10. Rader, R., et al., OMEC Int., Federal Biotechnology Programs Directory, Washington, DC, 1987.

11. Kissman, H.M. and Wexler, P., "Toxicology Information Systems: A Historical Perpective," Journal of Chemical Information and Computer Sciences, 25(3), p. 212-17, Aug. 1985.

* Porton International is among the largest privately held biotechnology companies in the world. Porton companies include: Porton Products (pharmaceuticals, such as asparaginase for leukemia and porcine Factor VIII for hemophilia treatment); LH Fermentation (fermentation equipment); JRH Biosciences (culture media); Porton Cambridge (in vitro diagnostics); Porton Instruments (protein sequencers); Porton Diagnostics (medical devices); Porton Medical Labs. (specialized diagnostic testing); Porton Medical Group (clinical trials); Biotechnology Computer Systems (control systems) and; OMEC Int. (publishing)

Mr. Rader is also Editor of BioINVENTION and Antiviral Agents Bulletin.
Note, all statements are solely those of the author. Copyright claimed. Please, do not extensively quote without permission.