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UPDATE: Celera, Isis Sign Gene Function Determination Agreement

This story has been updated from a previous version.

NEW YORK, July 16 - Celera Genomics and Isis Pharmaceuticals said Monday they have signed a deal under which Isis will look to determine the functions of more than 200 genes supplied by Celera.

Under the terms of the deal, Celera will select the genes, but the two companies will jointly decide in what order they will study the genes' function and relevance to disease. Isis's functional genomics division, GeneTrove, plans to complete this work using its antisense technology within 18 months.

In a conference call, Isis vice president and Gene Trove president Richard Brown said that GeneTrove would evaluate the role of the Celera genes in cancer, angiogenesis, metabolic, and other diseases.

Celera will have exclusive rights to develop non-antisense-based therapeutics from up to 20 of the genes the two companies will study, Isis CEO Stanley Crooke said in a conference call. In addition, Celera and Isis will share equally in the rights to any non-antisense-based intellectual property that Isis develops during the collaboration, as well as any revenue from licensing that intellectual property.

However, Crooke said that the deal is advantageous to Isis because his company will maintain rights to develop antisense drugs from all of the genes that Celera supplies, as well as the rights to all antisense-related intellectual property. Furthermore, the deal allows Isis to use the gene function data in its GeneTrove Human Gene Function database, except for the data on the 20-odd genes that Celera will own exclusively.

Crooke said that the Human Gene Function database will contain gene function and antisense inhibitor data for between 1,500 and 2,000 genes by the end of the year, and for 10,000 genes within four years using 40 pharmacological assays. Isis is currently beta testing the database, and will make it available to early access partners before next year.

"This agreement should provide Celera with valuable information on the function and potential medical implications of key genes, which we plan to use in our internal drug discovery program," Craig Venter, Celera's president and chief scientific officer, said in a statement. 

Isis of Carlsbad, Calif., and Celera of Rockville, Md., did not disclose the financial terms of the deal. Isis currently has 11 drugs in clinical testing, and gene function or target validation research collaborations with Abbott Laboratories, Johnson and Johnson, and Aventis Pharmaceuticals. Isis is not currently a subscriber to Celera Discovery System, the company's flagship database of genomic data.

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