Incyte Pharmaceuticals Inc. entered into a collaboration Wednesdaythat marks its first attempt to go further up the drug development lineinto the preclinical and clinical stages of the process.

Incyte, which already has data bases that can help in the discoveryeffort, entered into a collaboration and software license agreement touse Oceania Inc.'s technology to link gene-expression data andpatient data. Incyte hopes to develop a "Medical GenomicsInformation System" to examine genetic patterns associated withdisease processes, drug responsiveness and disease susceptibility andoutcomes.

Oceania is charged with adapting its Wave software product toorganize pathology information for the tissues Incyte collects for itsgenomics data bases.

"We're just beginning to conceptualize this," said Incyte's chieffinancial officer, Denise Gilbert. "We want to produce and providedata bases and information for all stages of drug development. Thedata bases we currently offer focus on the early stages. Therelationship with Oceania is the start of a focus on data bases that canbe used in preclinical and clinical development."

The Wave product generates computerized patient medical records sothe user can collect and search patient-specific medical information.The companies, both of Palo Alto, Calif., will try to link Incyte'stissue- and disease-specific gene expression data with computerizedpatient data.

"We'll look for a way to link gene expression data, which is what wegenerate, with patient medical information," said Incytespokeswoman Dayna Wheeler. From there Incyte hopes to develop asystem that will allow for the search and retrieval of information bydifferent methods, she said.

For example, Gilbert said, Incyte envisions a system where tissues ofwomen over 70 with breast cancer and using a particular drug couldbe called up to determine which genes were turned off or on.

"There are different ways to cut the data," Gilbert said. "This is thebeginning of the process. We need to define what sort of informationwe want to put in a data base and how we want to search it. We wantto bring together those three classes of information _ patient data,gene expression and pathology data. We'll try to combine that to seehow we could use it to make queries to help people in clinicalresearch."

Marian Marra, Incyte's director of research and developmentventures, said in a prepared statement: "Our ability to providesoftware which incorporates computerized patient records and tissuepathology with sophisticated gene-expression analysis could have apowerful impact on clinical research. We believe the future ofclinical medicine is heading toward a point in which patientinformation and genomics information are intimately linked."

Incyte already is far along in its development of data bases to help inthe discovery of drugs and drug targets. Ten pharmaceuticalcompanies are subscribing to Incyte's LifeSeq (Library ofInformation for Expressed Sequences) data base. Incyte also hasdeveloped mapping, microbial and full-length gene data bases.

Last month Incyte acquired privately held Genome Systems Inc. withthe intention of developing a genomic map to speed the discovery ofdisease-related genes. (See BioWorld Today, July 24, 1996, p. 1.)

Incyte's stock (NASDAQ:INCY) gained 38 cents Wednesday toclose at $40.75. n

-- Jim Shrine

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