Wednesday, November 08, 2006


Yesterday Chenomx announced the availability of version 4.6 of their flagship product "NMR Suite". I don't know if I can consider this product a true processing software, albeit the name. They appear very determined, however, and I believe that their NMR suite will eventually process spectra. I can't include it into my price comparison list because they don't publish the price. I believe a single licence is $35,000 (commercial) or $8,750 (academic). Just like ACDlabs, they come from Canada (the land of NMR software?) and have apparently materialized from nothing. Please don't say that ACDlabs is different because it's half Russian, because the name of Chenomx's representative is Alex Cherniavsky.
The whole official story is contained into a single page. In April 2004 "Varian, Inc. has made a strategic equity investment in Chenomx, Inc., a privately held company that is a leader in the rapidly growing field of metabolic profiling" which means:

  1. They were already the leaders of the field before having a single product.
  2. Varian smartly concluded that, if themselves were able to make money with VNMRJ, the software market is where you can become rich.

The next two titles try to catch my eyes with "$18m Genome Canada Grant" and "$2.6m Magnetic Resonance Diagnostics Centre". You know, if you have a grant you can't use freeware nor shareware, you have to spend it all. Under such pressure, the quality of what you buy is not relevant.
Fast forward to one year ago, when NMR Suite finally appears, with version 4.0. The leader of the market can't start from 1, like you and me, he starts directly from 4. We arrive in April when, take a long breath, "Chenomx, Inc., a leading provider of software and compound libraries used to identify and quantify metabolites in NMR spectra, and Umetrics AB, a worldwide leader in multivariate analysis and modeling software, are pleased to announce a partnership to provide a comprehensive metabolomics solution to researchers worldwide". Anybody can be a leader, that's the beauty of the web.
In June we saw version 4.5 and, yesterday, the revolutionary 4.6, which: can now import raw Bruker spectra (what have you been doing up to now?), and will now look and feel more like a native Windows application (sorry you have renounced to your minimalist look, it was your ace in the hole).
I have downloaded and tried the previous version (4.5). For simplicity I limited myself to open the only example included. It was terribly out-of-phase. Though I have matured a decennial experience in phasing with 8 different programs, I could not correct it neither manually nor automatically. The slider reached the end of the run and there was nothing else to do but to ask for help, via e-mail, to Chenomx itself:
"Just one question. I have found a single sample file and I wasn't able to correct the phase. What's the value for the first order phase correction?" And I expected a numerical value. Remember that it was their spectrum, not mine! They replied that the answer is inside the tutorial. It was not, but the picture was clear: they are not ready yet. Maybe in 2007.


At 2:01 AM, Anonymous Jack said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 2:17 AM, Anonymous Jack said...

Thanks for checking out our software Old Swan - your observations deserve a response, and as the product manager for Chenomx NMR Suite I feel I'm in a good place to answer some of your questions!

Fist of all, a detail that might not be obvious: our website news archive doesn't track all the way back to our initial software releases in late 1999. We started our software at version 0.1, and have had a 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, and 4.0 releases - we don't believe in skipping version numbers either :-)

I'd also like to point out that our software is tailored towards metabolite profiling, and the functionality in Profiler, like our targeted profiling functionality, is where the real innovation and depth in the software is. We've also spent years building up one of the most extensive NMR metabolite databases in the world, and regard this as one of the software's main assets.

Our processing software is our newest module, and is currently tailored to meet the specific needs of metabolomics researchers, and we ruthlessly cut features that don't help metabolomics researchers get their jobs done more efficiently or more effectively. We have partnered with ACD/Labs (another Canadian company) as well, and we recommend ACD's processing software to all of our users that may need more sophisticated processing software. There's no shortage of high-quality NMR processing software, but to the best of my knowledge we are the only software product in the world that allows for interactive identification and quantification of compounds in NMR spectra.

Also, we've been able to import Bruker spectra for years, but we hadn't been able to read in native time domain data from Bruker files prior to our 4.5 release. Adding this functionality was a direct response to requests from our Bruker customers for more direct integration with their file formats.

In regards to the look and feel of the software, we adopted the Windows look and feel (as opposed to the Metal look and feel) to provide forward compatibility with the forthcoming Vista release. Our minimalist and well-designed user interface remains intact, the look-and-feel will just feel more like home for our Windows users. We also support the native look and feel for Mac OS X.

Thanks for your feedback on the software - we're listening. I'd encourage you and your readers to jump onto and give us your feedback. We want to build an active community around our software, and in making what I think is the first blog posting about our software you've certainly helped start that movement!

Best regards,

At 6:37 PM, Anonymous Jack said...

I would recommend checking out the 4.6 evaluation version - some of your comments are based on version 4.5, and we've significantly improved Processor in version 4.6, and addressed some of the issues you mentioned:

Free Chenomx NMR Suite 4.6 Evaluation

We think the new baseline correction algorithm is especially impressive. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.


At 8:39 PM, Blogger Ed said...

I would say that the processor tool is impressively good for import raw NMR data,and then have them processed by proper phasing, baseline correction (you can have solvent peak removed from the baseline correction, such as big ugly water peak), and more importantly, reference deconvolution, to get a beautiful spectrum to start with. Also reference deconvolution function is a good tool to invetigate coupling constants, when they are pretty small (such as 0.5 Hz for long-range coupling constants. With RD function, you can find that lots of claimed singlets, such as the main peaks of creatinine, are not. Such as aromatic peaks of Histidine, are not either. The RD function is a necessary to have, while none other commercial NMR software has it until now. It really ease the difficuly of shimming. Chenomx should have a better online demo to show how to use it.


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