PerSeptive Biosystems Inc. and Incyte Pharmaceuticals Inc. haveagreed to collaborate on the use of PerSeptive's proprietaryGeneSpectrometry technology to assist Incyte in the rapid generationof genomic data for its LifeSeq data base product.

Under terms of the agreement (financial details were not disclosed)the two companies will apply the GeneSpectrometry system towardthe acceleration and automation of DNA sequencing for expressionprofiling and genotyping at Incyte.

"This is the first collaboration in our GeneSpectrometry area,"Noubar Afeyan, chairman and CEO of PerSeptive, based inFramingham, Mass., told BioWorld Today. "We have developed thistechnology in the last year and we really only presented it to thescientific community about a month ago.

"Incyte is one of the leaders in applying high throughput methods inthe genomic field," Afeyan said. "This collaboration will give us aleg up in taking this technology to market."

GeneSpectrometry Technology combines modern molecular biologymethods with mass spectrometry for the sequencing and detection ofDNA. Sequencing kits have been developed for DNA laddersequencing of up to 70-100 bases of DNA in minutes compared tohours. In addition, Sequenase and Ligase Chain Reaction methodswere described that can detect specific sequences with extremely highaccuracy and speed.

An aspect of this technology lies in the use of PerSeptive's newlydeveloped Delayed Extraction Matrix Assisted Laser DesorptionIonization Time of Flight mass spectrometry.

In the last year, PerSeptive has introduced its Voyager (benchtop)and Elite (research grade) instruments that use this technology.

David Stone, an analyst with Cowen & Co. in Boston, Mass., said thecollaboration "was a positive development for both companies.

"Incyte is a company about which investors have been moreenthusiastic because of its long series of corporate collaborationswith drug firms to screen their data bases. Lately Incyte has beenacquiring small companies or technologies regularly, which appearsto be another step in the continued strengthening of their technologyplatform," Stone said.

"In the sense that Incyte is a more widely owned and well regardedcompany, the association should be a beneficial one for PerSeptive.What Incyte will get out of it will be access to what we thinkultimately will be one of the best ways to do DNA analysis," Stonecontinued.

Most of the work being done by Incyte and others today to analyzegenes, Stone explained, involves gel-based sequencing systems,which is limited by the need to run an electrophoresis jell on eachsample.

"With this technology, the data is all being acquired by electroniccircuitry and analyzed by computers, so it all happens much faster,"Stone said.

GeneSpectrometry has also recently been applied to a very highthroughput genotyping, the determination of single-base mutations inDNA samples, at a rate exceeding millions of mutations analyzed permachine per minute.

PerSeptive's product sales, the company said, have grown during itsfirst five years of commercial operation from under $1 million infiscal 1991 to more than $75 million in fiscal 1996. The company hasrecently formed a partnership with ChemGenics Pharmaceuticals, anew company in which it holds a 40 percent equity stake.

Incyte's LifeSeq data base integrates bioinformatics software withboth proprietary and publicly available genetic information to createan information-based tool used by pharmaceutical companies in drugdiscovery and development.

From May to October of this year, Incyte entered into 11 agreements,four new subscriptions, five collaborations and two acquisitions. Thetwo acquisitions were Combion Inc., of Pasadena, Calif., a privatecompany specializing in cDNA microarray production andcombinatorial chemistry technolog., and Genome Systems, of St.Louis, Mo., a private genomics-based company which has developeda bacterial artificial chromosome map. n

-- Frances Bishopp

(c) 1997 American Health Consultants. All rights reserved.