Human Genome Sciences Inc. has amended its $125 millionagreement with SmithKline Beecham to focus more on specific genediscovery projects in addition to continuing their efforts to sequenceall human genes.

Human Genome Sciences, of Rockville, Md., is among numerouscompanies and research institutions worldwide attempting to identifythe estimated 100,000 genes in the human genome.

In May 1993, Human Genome Sciences entered into a collaborationwith Philadelphia-based SmithKline Beecham giving thepharmaceutical company first rights to develop a broad variety ofdrug candidates based on gene sequencing research. To date,SmithKline has paid $100 million to Human Genome Sciences.

In the original deal, Human Genome Sciences was to have sequenced90 percent of the human genome and transferred the data toSmithKline by Jan. 9, 1996, in return for a $25 million milestonepayment. (See BioWorld Today, May 21, 1993, p. 1.)

Under the amended agreement, Human Genome Sciences is nolonger required to sequence 90 percent of all genes in the next year.Instead, the genomics company will deliver a specified number ofpartial gene sequences during 1995 and upon completion of thatmilestone it will receive $25 million.

Nancy Broadbent, senior vice president and chief financial officerfor Human Genome Sciences, said the change allows the company touse some of its gene sequencing capacity to study more closelyspecific genes and their functions rather than focusing on merelyidentifying all the genes. She said Human Genome Sciences alreadyhas sequenced 60 to 70 percent of the genome.

In return for at least half of the $25 million payment, SmithKlinewill get 339,065 shares of Human Genome Sciences, givingSmithKline more than 1.35 million shares or about 9 percentownership in the Maryland biotechnology company. HumanGenome Sciences currently has 14.8 million shares outstanding.

Human Genome Sciences' stock (NASDAQ:HGSI) closed Friday at$14.25, down 19 cents. SmithKline (NYSE:SB) was down 12 centsto $38.37. n

-- Charles Craig

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