Abbott Laboratories Wednesday became the fifthpharmaceutical firm to subscribe to IncytePharmaceuticals Inc.'s data base of human genesequences in the hopes of using the DNA information fordrug discovery.
Denise Gilbert, chief financial officer of Palo Alto, Calif.-based Incyte, said details of the agreement were notdisclosed, but added the Abbott deal represents the largestrevenue producer for her company.
What distinguishes Abbott's agreement from the others isthat Incyte's also will use its technology to sequence thegenomes of several microbial pathogens for the AbbottPark, Ill., pharmaceutical firm.
Incyte, formed in 1991, was one of the first genomicscompanies to begin selling non-exclusive access to itsgene sequences, which are maintained in a data basecalled Lifeseq (Library of Information for ExpressedSequences). In addition to DNA sequences, the data baseincludes tissue patterns of gene expression and levels ofabundance.
The company also creates customized "satellite" databases of sequence information based on specific cells ortissues under study by customers.
The five subscriber deals each average about three years.In addition to subscriber fees, the agreements includemilestone payments for drugs developed and royalties onproducts marketed. The Abbott alliance also will payIncyte royalties on diagnostics.
The first pharmaceutical firm to sign up was Pfizer Inc.,of New York, which paid $15.75 million for access to thegene sequence information in June 1994 and made a $10million equity investment. In December 1994 UpjohnCo., of Kalamazoo, Mich., became a subscriber for $10million and also purchased $10 million in stock. Upjohnmerged with Stockholm, Sweden-based Pharmacia AB inNovember 1995 to form Pharmacia & Upjohn Co.
Since the first two agreements, Incyte has not negotiated adeal with an equity investment and has not disclosedterms of its collaborations.
In August 1995, Novo Nordisk A/S, of Bagsvaerd,Denmark, became a subscriber and two months laterHoechst Marion Roussel, of Frankfurt, Germany, signedon. Details of those two agreements were described assimilar to the financial terms giving Pfizer and Upjohnaccess to the DNA information.
Incyte has said it is targeting the top 50 drug firmsworldwide as customers for its Lifeseq data base. InAugust 1995, the company estimated it had sequencesrepresenting 70,000 human genes and expected to reach100,000 by the end of this year. Gilbert said she could notcomment on Incyte's progress.
Estimates of the number of genes in the human genomevary widely from 70,000 to 100,000. Incyte's researchershave speculated the total may be in excess of 100,000.
In November 1995, Incyte generated nearly $35 million ingross proceeds from a follow-on public offering. Thecompany has about 9.8 million shares outstanding.
Gilbert said the company will not receive any revenuesfrom the Abbott agreement until next year. She addedIncyte currently has about $40 million in cash. Throughthe first nine months of this year Incyte reported a net lossof $7.9 million.
Incyte's stock (AMEX:IPI) closed Wednesday at $19.50,up $1.25. Abbott (NYSE:ABT) ended the day at $40.50,up 12 cents. n
-- Charles Craig
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