TEL AVIV, Israel - Compugen Ltd., an Israeli bioinformatics company, is expanding its U.S.-based operations through an office in Silicon Valley for business development, sales and marketing.

The new Sunnyvale, Calif., facility will focus on the commercialization of Compugen's genomic and proteomic products, including its recently announced DNA chip design system begun in partnership with Motorola Inc.

"We are aiming to substantially increase our commercial presence in the United States in view of our expanding product line," said Lior D. Ma'ayan, Compugen vice president and head of commercial operations. "This new office coincides with increased sales and marketing professional staff at our U.S. headquarters in Princeton, N.J."

Compugen is seeking to get closer to its market. Among the companies that have recently signed agreements with Compugen are AlphaGene Inc. in Woburn, Mass; Agouron Pharmaceuticals Inc. in La Jolla, Calif.; Aventis Pharmaceuticals Inc. in Bridgewater, N.J.; Chugai Pharmaceuticals Inc. in San Diego; Motorola in Schaumburg, Ill.; Scios Inc. in Sunnyvale; and Serono SA in Geneva, Switzerland.

"The expansion of our U.S. operations is in response to the biotech and pharmaceutical industries' growing need for high-quality tools for data mining and for analysis of genomic and proteomic data and our expanding product line. Being closer to our customers will enhance our ability to provide our solutions to our customers," Compugen President Eli Mintz said.

Late last month Compugen revealed a new alliance with BioChip Systems Inc., of Northbrook, Ill., a major biochips developer established in 1998 and a subsidiary of the Motorola group. That was Compugen's first deal involving a commercial biochip design venture employing its proprietary DNA chip-design tools and services, which are based upon its LEADS algorithm-driven bioinformatics platform for the analysis and mining of genomic, expressed and protein sequence data.

"Compugen's LEADS technology represents a major advance in the functionality of biochips," Ma'ayan told BioWorld International. "It enables scientists to capture both the exact genes of interest, and alternative splice variants of these genes that may be the actual biologically active genes. We are bringing the content, and Motorola is providing the technological and marketing capability."

Motorola will use Compugen's Transcriptome mapping technology to design and market DNA biochips. Motorola customers also will gain secured access to bioinformation services through a link to Compugen's, its database and research engine for analysis of genes, proteins and genetic transcription.

The value of the deal was not disclosed.