Incyte Pharmaceuticals Inc. announced Thursday that Pfizer Inc. haspaid $25 million for non-exclusive rights to Incyte's data base of genesequencing and analysis technology.Incyte's agreement with Pfizer is a three-year deal in which Pfizer pays$15.75 million in research funding and data base access charges, andanother $9 million for 710,000 shares of Incyte stock. The stock salewill give Pfizer about a 10 percent interest in Incyte.According to Incyte's Randy Scott, the agreement sets a precedent inthe industry and establishes Incyte, of Palo Alto, Calif., as the firstbiotechnology company to enter the information business. Scott, vicepresident of research and development, told BioWorld Today, "Weretain all rights to proteins and genes. If (Pfizer) moves forward withinformation from our data base, there are additional payments. Allthey're getting is computer access to our data base."Although Pfizer, of New York, is the first to make such an agreement,Scott said Incyte believes it can generate $100 million to $200 millionannually from the sale of information. "In the last six to nine months,we've talked to 30 different pharmaceutical companies," he said. "Thisopens up a whole new world that hasn't existed before. It's the firstbiotechnology data base business."Pfizer spokeswoman Kate Robins acknowledged the deal is a first forher company. "We intend to use the information to validate projects wehave and identify new drug targets," she told BioWorld. Robins wouldnot elaborate further on future plans.Incyte To Sequence And CorrelateUnder the agreement, Pfizer Central Research scientists, located inGroton, Conn., also will send cells to Incyte for sequencing, analysisand correlation with Incyte's data base.In a prepared statement, George Milne, president of Pfizer CentralResearch, said, "Pfizer recognized the applications of gene sequencingto drug discovery at an early stage and has developed a substantialinternal capability seeking novel disease-related genes . . . Incyte, aleader in gene sequencing, provides Pfizer with an importantopportunity to leverage its own resources."Scott said the non-exclusive access to Incyte's information is whatdistinguishes this agreement with Pfizer from collaborativearrangements like the one between Human Genome Sciences Inc., ofRockville, Md., and SmithKline Beecham plc, of Philadelphia. Scottcharacterized last year's $125 million agreement between HumanGenome and SmithKline as an exclusive, one-time deal.But Human Genome chairman and CEO William Haseltine disagreed.Haseltine told BioWorld Today, "It's a first rights agreement. It's abroad deal. It's not exclusive. SmithKline has the first rights to developand market products based on our data and know-how."Haseltine called the agreement between Incyte and Pfizer significantbecause it's another indication of the importance of genome science tothe future of the pharmaceutical industry. "First there was our deal withSmithKline, then there was Hoffmann-La Roche [-MillenniumPharmaceuticals] and now [Pfizer-] Incyte," he said. Hoffmann-LaRoche and Millennium Pharmaceuticals Inc. agreed to a $70 milliondeal in March 1994.Lisa Peterson, Incyte's director of business development, said anyother pharmaceutical company that signs on with Incyte will have thesame non-exclusive access as Pfizer. At some point, she told BioWorld,"we would consider giving exclusive access to selected molecules,such as negotiating a gene therapy deal."More Than Gene SequencesPeterson said Incyte is selling not only access to its achievements ingene sequencing, but also its data base of gene expression profiles,which detail the roles genes play in human diseases and help identifynew drug targets.The data base, as of 1993, contained more than 50,000 entries ofcomplementary DNA sequences, according to Incyte. Scott said that bythe end of 1995, Incyte expects to have "partial clones in the freezer"for 75 percent of the all the 100,000 genes in the human genome.Scott said that Incyte and Human Genome are far ahead of any otherresearchers in the race to sequence all human genes and decipher thoseresponsible for diseases. He anticipates that, within the next two tothree years, 80 to 90 percent of the human genome will be sequenced.In addition to its gene sequencing program, Incyte holds patentscovering methods of purification, pharmaceutical formulations and theuse of a bacterial/permeability increasing protein and related moleculesfor the treatment of endotoxin-related diseases.At the close of trading Wednesday, Incyte's stock (AMEX: IPI) was up25 cents a share to $11.13 and Pfizer's stock (NYSE: PFE) also was up25 cents, closing at $63.13. n
-- Charles Craig
(c) 1997 American Health Consultants. All rights reserved.