Lynx, DuPont Sign $60M Deal For Crop Genomics Lynx, DuPont Sign $60M Deal For Crop Genomics

By Jim Shrine

Special To BioWorld Today

Lynx Therapeutics Inc. and DuPont entered into a five-year, crop-genomics research deal in which Lynx is assured $22 million and could collect up to $60 million, if the company delivers on technical milestones and comes up with the genomic map of an unspecified crop.

Sam Eletr, chairman and CEO of Hayward, Calif.-based Lynx, said DuPont's extensive databases of expressed sequence tags (ESTs) and other genetics information "can be related over a large number of crops." One feature of Lynx's technology to be used with that data is its ability to compare large libraries of cDNA, DNA molecules and fragments to one another.

"We can extract physically from a couple of samples those genes that are expressed differently in those two samples without knowing anything about those genes, and regardless of whether those genes have been identified," Eletr said.

Lynx's bead-based technologies include parallel clone sorting, which enables the extraction of differentially expressed genes from any set of samples; Massively Parallel Signature Sequencing, which identifies nearly all genes present in a given sample; and high-resolution physical mapping, which maps any genome in a way that enables the positioning of any signature sequence.

Lynx has deals in place with German-based companies BASF AG, of Ludwigshafen, and Hoechst Marion Roussel, of Frankfurt, but this is the first collaboration forged since adding new technology, which can be applied equally to any area of genetics, whether it involves plants, humans, bugs or microbes, Eletr said.

"Crops have complex genomes," he said. "Analysis is rather daunting."

DuPont Aiming For Efficiency

Lynx's deal is with the DuPont Agricultural Enterprise unit, of Wilmington, Del., which has about 5,500 employees in the crop protection side of the business.

DuPont said working with a single technology for gene discovery and genetic mapping will improve efficiency. As many as 2 million genes can be handled simultaneously with the Lynx parallel clone sorting technology. The company will access genes related to improving yield, agronomic traits such as drought tolerance, and quality traits.

Working with DuPont will help refine and expand applications of the Lynx technology, Eletr said.

"We're going to be working with a group that has invested and is investing very heavily in genomics and genetics," he said.

Lynx, which raised $27 million in an October 1997 private placement, had about $18 million in cash on Sept. 30 and was burning about $2.6 million per quarter. The company has about 11 million shares outstanding.

Lynx's stock (NASDAQ:LYNX) closed Thursday at $10.25, down $0.125. n