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Originally published Tuesday, June 2, 2009 at 12:00 AM

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Microsoft buying Rosetta's genomic-software assets from Merck

Microsoft is buying assets of Seattle-based Rosetta Biosoftware from pharmaceutical giant Merck. Microsoft wants to incorporate Rosetta's...

Seattle Times technology reporter

Microsoft is buying assets of Seattle-based Rosetta Biosoftware from pharmaceutical giant Merck.

Microsoft wants to incorporate Rosetta's genomic-information software into the Microsoft Amalga Life Sciences platform, a system the company's Health Solutions Group has built for research institutions such as drug companies and universities.

The software helps researchers make sense of data to develop drugs and conduct clinical trials.

The company has also developed software products targeting health-care providers to store patient medical records, as well as targeting consumers, to help manage medical conditions.

Rosetta, founded in 1995, has 53 employees in South Lake Union and had as many as 300 at one time. Merck purchased the company in 2001 for $630 million. In October, Whitehouse, N.J.-based Merck said it was eliminating or transferring 240 Seattle jobs.

Jim Karkanias, senior director of applied research and technology in the Health Solutions Group, said Rosetta's software can be used to figure out how genes interact with each other, analyze peptides and metabolites, and determine how they relate to gene expression.

"Understanding all of those moving parts is no small task," Karkanias said. "The software Rosetta generates assists in that. That's what we're plugging in to the life-science platform."

Microsoft declined to say how much it was paying for Rosetta. The deal is expected to close in June and the Rosetta software is expected to be available as part of Amalga in January.

Merck will become a customer of Microsoft's research software.

It's not clear how many employees will be hired at Microsoft, but they will no longer have an office in South Lake Union.

Sharon Pian Chan: 206-464-2958 or schan@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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