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Paradigm Genetics Turns Eye to Healthcare; Lee Hood, Come on Down

SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 7 - Paradigm Genetics has put its stake in healthcare, the company said at an international healthcare conference here on Monday.

"We've been thought of as an ag company up to now," said John Ryals, the firm's CEO. "This is a real transition for us. We're showing our healthcare side."

Speaking at the 20th annual JPMorgan H&Q Healthcare Conference, Ryals said Paradigm Genetics was working to commercialize mass spec equipment and bioinformatics technology being developed with Thermo Finnigan and Lion Bioscience, respectively.

The mass spec equipment built by Thermo Finnigan with Paradigm modifications would allow "mass specs to talk to each other," said Ryals, allowing several samples to run over a number of different types of mass specs. Ryals said the technology might be ready for market in the next year.

The informatics platform it plans to market with Lion in the next 18 months includes a dictionary of the human metabolome, which Ryals estimated would eventually include 2,000 to 3,000 small molecules, and data visualization tools. Paradigm, based in Research Triangle, NC, currently uses the tools for internal R&D.

"We haven't been talking about this technology. We didn't want to invite a lot of competition in this area," said Ryals.

Why the coming out party now?

"It's all part of the plan we had four years ago to move towards healthcare," he said. "We developed ag first. We're not going to abandon it, we're just adding to it."

Ryals sees the company emerging as a "fully integrated drug-discovery effort" with agriculture as one division.

In another nod to its newly announced R&D focus on human health, the company on Monday announced a new member of their board: Lee Hood, director of the Institute for Systems Biology. Hood represents the first medical doctor on the board, according to a company spokesperson.

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