Washington Editor

Lynx Therapeutics Inc. intends to cut its work force by 15 percent in favor of devoting additional company resources to its genomics analysis technology called Massively Parallel Signature Sequencing.

Located in Hayward, Calif., the firm wants to expand commercial use of the technology, called MPSS, which provides comprehensive and quantitative digital gene expression information for biology research in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and agricultural industries.

Lynx's stock (NASDAQ:LYNX) rose 12 cents Thursday to close at $4.61.

Staff reductions will be across the board. After the cuts, the company will have 76 employees.

The move comes about a week after company officials completed a $4 million private financing of common stock and warrants for common stock. The financing included the sale of 788,235 newly issued shares of common stock at $5.10 per share and the issuance of warrants to purchase 181,295 shares of common stock at an exercise price of $6.25 per share.

Following the financing, the company said it would invest proceeds in the MPSS technology programs.

MPSS is based on Megaclone, Lynx's technology for cloning DNA molecules into microbeads. The company describes MPSS as an open platform that reveals the expression level of genes in a sample by counting the number of individual mRNA molecules from each gene. MPSS does not measure transcript abundance in an analogue fashion, but uses a digital approach in which transcripts are counted. MPSS counts more than 1 million transcripts per sample, providing quantitative expression data at single copy per cell levels.

Company officials could not be reached for comment.

The decision to eliminate employees marks the firm's third such move in recent years.

Last June, Lynx cut 25 percent of its staff, leaving it with 90 employees. The affected groups were mainly research and development personnel based in Heidelberg, Germany, and those in its proteomics group in California. With that decision, Lynx dropped its internal proteomics development efforts, including further investment in its Protein ProFiler platform.

Before that reduction, Lynx in April 2002 cut its staff by 30 percent, leaving it with 120 to 130 employees. (See BioWorld Today, April 19, 2002.)

The company recently signed a multimillion-dollar services agreement with SAIC-Frederick Inc., of Frederick, Md., on behalf of a consortium from the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., to characterize gene expression patterns in a number of tissues from the common laboratory mouse using the MPSS technology. The project is designed to build a reference transcriptome database.

Among its other deals, Lynx is involved in a multiyear, multimillion-dollar services agreement with Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc., a subsidiary of DuPont, of Wilmington, Del., to use its technology in efforts related to agricultural traits and products.