BioWorld International Correspondent

BORNHEIM, Germany - GeneScan Europe AG, of Freiburg, Germany, has acquired a significant stake in privately held based Oasis Biosciences Inc.

The transaction is worth up to US$6 million, depending on milestones U.S.-based Oasis reaches in building up an antisense library.

Oasis, of San Diego, uses its GeneLead technology to build up the antisense library. GeneLead consists of two libraries containing a few thousand oligonucleotide fragments, called cleavers and anchors. Combining fragments from each library is designed to allow millions of inhibitory oligonucleotides to be assembled one at a time, Oasis said, explaining that cleavers and anchors alone are not biologically active. Following assembly, however, they form a molecule that recruits the enzyme RNaseH to destroy pre-mRNA. According to Oasis, each GeneLead assembly specifically destroys pre-mRNA from a single known gene.

"Thus you can discover new gene functions and validate given target genes for the pharmaceutical industry by switching off these genes and looking at which functions have changed," GeneScan spokeswoman Annette Siebers told BioWorld International, adding that GeneLead oligonucleotides also could be used to improve gene chips for identification of single nucleotide polymorphisms.

"The cooperation with Oasis for us opens the huge market segment of pharmacogenomics, which excellently fits to our core competence of DNA analytics," GeneScan CEO Ulrich Birsner said in a prepared statement.

The investment in Oasis also gives GeneScan additional presence in the U.S. market.

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