A private start-up company formed to capitalize on DNAsequencing by hybridization expects a basic patent in thisquick sequencing method to issue today.

U.S. Patent No. 5,202,231 is being assigned to Hyseq Inc., whichincorporated last year in Illinois and has temporary offices inthe Chicago law firm of Shefsky & Froelich Ltd., said actingPresident Robert Weist, who retired from Amgen Inc. as asenior vice president last year after 10 years with that top-tierbiotech company.

Inventors of the patent are scientists Radoje Drmanac andRadomir Crkvenjakov of Argonne National Laboratories inChicago, one of the centers for the Human Genome Project,which is intended to determine the sequence of all the DNA inhuman chromosomes.

Sequencing by hybridization is estimated to take one-tenth thetime of the conventional method, which uses restrictionenzymes and gel electrophoresis. Separating fragments cleavedby restriction enzymes by size with electrophoresis is"relatively time-consuming and in some respects cumbersome,"Weist said, "and not as amenable to automation."

The hybridization method involves using synthesized probes toblot to DNA of unknown sequence and an optical scanner toidentify completely complementary hybrids made of the probeand target DNA. The computer program compiles overlappingsequences and generates sequence information, Weist said.

The system is appropriate for large volumes of DNA, such asentire chromosomes, and may be applied to gene therapy, newtherapeutics, diagnostics and characterization of plant genomes.

Weist anticipates eventually reverting to a consultant role andtaking a position on the board of directors as key managementis recruited and the business plan is completed. He anticipatesthe company will have a portfolio of projects, and willcollaborate with others to provide sequencing services.

Since his retirement he has been a consultant and venturecapitalist, serving as the president of Weist Associates, butWeist said he became interested in forming the new companybecause the technology "appeared to be of great potentialsignificance."

-- Nancy Garcia Associate Editor

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

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