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Celera Will Go Solo on Clinical Trials; Applera Says It s Found 220,000 SNPs

NEW YORK, Dec. 17--Celera Genomics will venture into clinical stages of drug development on its own, the Applera Corporation said in a progress report today on its Celera divisions.


Celera Genomics, which in June was relaunchedas a drug discovery business, now intends to move drug candidates into clinical trials before forming partnerships with other biotech or pharmaceutical companies. The company is working on protease inhibitors as well as treatments for cancer and inflammatory and coagulatory diseases, and hopes to be pushing its most advanced candidates, like Factor VIIa inhibitors for anticoagulation and tryptase inhibitors for asthma and allergic rhinitis, into clinical trials as soon as next year.


Celera Genomics will refocus its proteomics work exclusively toward work to identify differentially expressed cell surface proteins, which are thought to be promising candidates for antibody-based drugs.


The company held about $881 million in cash and short-term investments as of Sept. 30, the end of the company's last quarter.


Celera Diagnostics, which last week was granted approval from the Food & Drug Administration for an HIV genotyping test, plans to finish six disease association studies and launch hepatitis genotyping and viral load tests by the end of 2003.


In the statement released today, Applera also announced that its researchers have identified more than 220,000 SNPs--70 percent of them previously unidentified--as part of its Applera Genomics Initiative. Researchers in this project have sequenced coding and regulatory regions of about 23,400 genes in 39 people and one chimpanzee. The company claims that the project will double the number of known functional SNPs when its analysis is finished in January 2003.


Applera plans to apply for patents on some of these SNPs, which may be used by both Celera Genomics and Celera Diagnostics for marker and drug target discovery. Applied Biosystems will also use this information to develop new gene expression and SNP genotyping assays.


For more information, see the company statement.

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