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DNAPrint Genomics Ventures into Southeast Asia for Research Opportunities

NEW YORK, July 17 – DNAPrint Genomics has joined forces with a small Malaysian biotech company to tap into government science grants for pharmacogenomics research in that country, the company disclosed Tuesday.

In the deal, Sarasota, Fla.-based DNAPrint Genomics joined with DNAPro to establish DNAPrint Genomics Malaysia. Forty-nine percent of the company is owned by DNAPrint and 51 percent by DNAPro, enabling the new company to apply for grants from the Malaysian Ministry of Science and Technology, explained DNAPrint's CEO Tony Frudakis. 

“There are no pharmacogenomics companies in Malaysia. DNAPro approached us,” said Frudakis, who then had the US Embassy in Malaysia vet the company.

DNAPrint Genomics put $100,000 in stock into an escrow account earmarked for the new company, said Frudakis. The new company has already applied for approximately $4 million in government funding, and will be notified this fall about the success of the grant applications.

Frudakis will serve as the executive director of the new company. The CEO of DNAPro, Halim Hamat, will act as managing director. Of the division of labor, Frudakis said that Hamat “knows who to lobby and who to schmooze. I write the grants.”

“Without Malaysian funding, this company will not flourish,” said Frudakis, adding that the partnership will serve as “a tool” to allow DNAPrint Genomics to do research in Southeast Asia. If funding is received, the new company will go forward in hiring employees and buying equipment, said Frudakis.

The goal, according to Frudakis, is to gain access to DNA samples from Southeast Asian populations in order to analyze the frequency of SNPs in that population and to develop pharmacogenomics products from that information.

DNAPrint Genomics, with 14 employees, registered a year-to-year revenue drop for the three months ending March 31, 2001, dropping to $348 from $8,409 in the same year-ago period, according to a document filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. 

“We are focusing much more on internal intellectual property development rather than delivery of services,” explained Frudakis, adding that emphasis on R&D was made possible by a June commitment for $2 million in additional funding to be paid monthly over 12 months. “[But] we will always do sideline projects to help with the bottom-line.”

Frudakis said that DNAPrint Genomics slated the end of the year for a rollout of two products for licensing, a “drug and forensic” product. He would not offer further details about the products.

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