FLICKR, U.S. ARMY MATERIEL COMMANDA good reagent can be hard to find. It typically takes wading through journal articles and published protocols to determine how best to set up an experiment. But a new search engine, Bioz, is hoping to streamline that process. The Palo Alto startup this week (June 20) announced $3 million in seed funding to improve their venture, which is currently in beta.
The site works by using natural language processing and machine learning to mine papers for a treasure-trove of information. A user can enter in a method (“PCR”) or a tool (“DNA polymerase”) and Bioz identifies reagents, ranking them according to how many times they’ve been used in experiments, the impact factor of the journal in which the referenced papers were published, and how recently a product was used.
Each result links to the vendor’s webpage. Bioz receives a lead referral fee, making the service free for users.
In addition, the search engine suggests relevant assays and collaborators, and shows the article context that describes how certain reagents were used.
Founder Karin Lachmi of Stanford explained the value of this feature: “Ok, I know what experiment I’m trying to do and I know the product, but now I want to go further,” she told Bio-IT World. “Should I use it at room temperature? Should I use a 1:1,000 dilution or a 1:200 dilution?”
More than 11,000 people across 40 countries are now using the search engine. “The business model for Bioz is around things you can buy, but there’s a subtext that you should be paying attention to everything,” Esther Dyson, who has invested in the company, told Tech Crunch. “And Bioz can help you find all those external factors you may not be noticing.”