By Mary Welch

Incyte Genomics Inc. will work with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to sequence DNA for the Mammalian Gene Collection (MGC), aimed at generating a comprehensive catalogue and clone library of full-length expressed human and mouse genes.

The contract with Palo Alto, Calif.-based Incyte is part of an effort by the NIH to create a public domain set of full-length expressed human and mouse genes. All of the gene sequence data and clones from this project will be publicly available to the scientific research community.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

"It was a competitive bid and it reflects our continued reaffirmation to go beyond the pharmaceutical companies and go more toward the academic arena," said Jim Neal, Incyte's executive vice president of sales, marketing and business development. "It helps us broaden our reach. It also reaffirms our capabilities in the sequencing arena."

Albert Rauch, senior vice president of First Union Securities Inc. in Chicago, said similar deals are "about $5 million. Incyte has a sequencing group and this contract allows them to generate revenue to this group. It's not a huge amount, but there are only two companies who can do sequencing this large - Incyte and Genome Therapeutics [Corp., of Waltham, Mass.]. So, it allows Incyte to put the information out there that they're capable of doing this type of sequencing. It's almost like advertising."

Coordinated by the National Cancer Institute and the National Human Genome Research Institute, the MGC will accelerate genomic research and the collective understanding of the molecular basis of disease.

All of the sequence data from the alliance will be added to dbEST, a public repository for cDNA, or gene, sequence data. All clones will be made available through the Integrated Molecular Analysis of Genomes and their Expression (I.M.A.G.E.) Consortium, of which Incyte is a member.

To date, only about 6,000 full-length gene sequences from the more than 100,000 human genes are in the public domain.

I.M.A.G.E. was formed in 1993 by four academic groups on a collaborative basis to study the human genome. The groups share high-quality, arrayed cDNA libraries and place sequence, map and expression data on the clones in these arrays into the public domain. Using this information, clones can be rearrayed to form a "master array," which the group hopes ultimately will contain a representative cDNA from each and every gene in the genome under study. The human and mouse genomes are the first to be studied. Recently, the rat, zebrafish and Xenopus were added.

Incyte's Custom Sequencing Service leverages a combination of core competencies including library construction, sequencing, and bioinformatics to generate sequence and bioinformatics data for customers.

Incyte's stock (NASDAQ:INCY) closed Tuesday at $77.109, down $9.062.