TOKYO _ Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. will transfer informationon 3,000 cDNA genes the company has identified, in addition to the15,500 already identified in 1995, to the publically accessibleJapanese DNA Data Base.

Shinji Masaki, public relations manager, told BioWorld Internationalthat Otsuka has completed analysis of data on 30,000 genes at itsOtsuka GEN Laboratory, which became an independent unit from thecompany's Diagnostics Division in 1994. Otsuka's GEN Laboratoryis Japan's first large-scale genome research facility operated by aprivate corporation, with a capacity of deciphering 150 sequences orapproximately 40,000 bps of cDNA sequences a day.

The DNA Data Base in Japan is part of a global network composedof GenBank at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md.,U.S., and the European Bioinformatics Institutes in Cambridge, U.K.

Otsuka is not participating in The Helix Institute, a new consortiumcapitalized by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry and20 large Japanese corporations for funding private companies'genomic research, or a similar program called GenomePharmaceutical Science Research Centre and sponsored by theMinistry of Health and Welfare and 10 pharmaceutical companies.Both are scheduled to kick off in April.

Instead, Masaki said, Otsuka now has reached a stage where it canconcentrate its efforts on analyzing functions of the 30,000 genes ithas already deciphered.

The company and Japan are in a race to sequence the entire humangenome, which is estimated to contain approximately 100,000 genes.Last year, Human Genome Sciences Inc., of Rockville, Md., U.S.,said that it had sequenced as much as 90 percent of all genes. Thatcompany is considered a leading competitor in the sequencing race.

In addition, the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, ofCambridge, Mass., U.S., said that it has generated a complete map ofthe entire suite of human chromosomes. This will help the final phaseof the U.S. Human Genome Project, which aims to decode the exactsequence of all 3 billion DNA bases in humans.

Otsuka GEN Laboratory is focusing its genomic research on"individual health care," encompassing prediction, prevention,diagnosis and treatment of diseases adapted to individual geneticpropensities.

Otsuka is a privately held company. All of its 12 million shares(valued at 500 each) are held by affiliated companies, managementand employees. Masaki said a recent dividend to stockholders was 12percent.

Until recently, the company had no need to seek investors. ButOtsuka may consider an initial public offering so the company cangrow into a multinational conglomerate.

Otsuka reported sales of 384,432 million with 13,523 million after-tax profit in the fiscal year ending March 1995. n

-- Paul Makino BioWorld International Correspondent

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