Incyte Pharmaceuticals Inc., one of the first companies to establishitself as a supplier of genetic data for drug discovery, acquired astart-up company with technologies designed to speed analysis ofgene sequences and formation of therapeutic compounds.

Palo Alto, Calif.-based Incyte paid $3 million in stock for CombionInc., of Pasedena, Calif., whose "gene-jet" and "chem-jet"technologies were discovered by scientists at California Institute ofTechnology (CalTech) in Pasedena.

Both technologies still are in the development stage, said DaynaWheeler, Incyte spokeswoman. Gene-jet will enable Incyte to spraygene fragments into microarrays on solid surfaces for direct drugscreening or analysis of gene expression patterns in specific tissues.Chem-jet is described as automated combinatorial chemistry in whichlibraries of oligonucleotides or chemicals are synthesized in amicroarray format.

The Combion acquisition follows by about three weeks Incyte'spurchase of Genome Systems Inc., of St. Louis, which has genemapping technology.

Incyte paid 200,000 shares of its stock for Genome Systems. Basedon the company's $38.50 share price in July when the deal wascompleted, the takeover was valued at $7.7 million. (See BioWorldToday, July 24, 1996, p. 1.)

The share price in the Combion acquisition was not disclosed.Incyte's stock (NASDAQ:INCY) ended Friday at $41.37, up 37cents.

Since 1994 when Incyte signed its first subscriber, New York-basedPfizer Inc., to its gene sequence and gene expression data bases, thegenomics company so far has added nine other drug makers whohave committed more than $160 million for non-exclusive access tothe DNA information. Incyte's core data base is called Lifeseq, whichstands for Library of Information for Expressed Sequences.

The acquisitions of Combion and Genome Systems are part ofIncyte's efforts to add technologies to assist in understanding thefunctions of genes and their roles in disease and to help discoverdrugs based on the data.

In July 1996, Wheeler said, Incyte developed its GeneAlbumprogram, which provides LifeSeq data base subscribers with clonesof specific DNA fragments. Eventually, the GeneAlbum program isexpected to contain clones for every gene in the human genome.

The addition of the Combion technology, Wheeler said, enablesIncyte to provide the DNA fragments in a ready-to-test format.

Thomas Theriault, director of research at Combion and one of thefounders of the company, said the science is based on ink-jettechnology for the delivery of microreagents into microarrays.

Combion received a $1.79 million grant in 1994 from the U.S.Department of Commerce's Advanced Technology Program tosupport commercial development of the science. Theriault andCombion's five other employees are expected to join Incyte in PaloAlto. n

-- Charles Craig

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

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