Oncor Inc. announced Monday that it has obtained from theWistar Institute of Anatomy and Biology and the UnitedKingdom's Cancer Research Campaign Technology Inc. exclusivelicenses to DNA probes that identify the telomeres (physicalends) of human chromosomes.

By adding these probes to its arsenal, Oncor of Gaithersburg,Md., will be able to "... develop and market complete sets ofprobes to scan an individual's genome for its chromosomalintegrity," according to Stephen Turner, Oncor's chief executiveofficer.

The majority of chromosomal abnormalities that occur incancer and genetic disease involve either the transfer ofmaterial from one chromosome to another (translocation), theaddition or deletion of part of a chromosome, or the addition ordeletion of whole chromosomes.

Oncor has developed a "whole series of probes (roughly 200)"which can be used for in situ hybridization to metaphasechromosomes or nuclear DNA to detect abnormalities, explainedGeorge Evanega, Oncor's president.

Oncor (NASDAQ:ONCR) has DNA probes that bind to centromeresas well as probes that bind to specific areas along thechromosome. It has also developed what it calls codasomes,which are a series of probes that "coat the whole chromosome,"Evanega told BioWorld. And the telomere probes, which bind tothe ends of the chromosomes, give a "tremendous amount ofinformation for detecting chromosomal abnormalities," headded.

"They will be one of the many tools that cytogeneticists woulduse to help diagnose the presence of disease," he said.

-- Jennifer Van Brunt Senior Editor

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