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Lynx Luring IT Partner to Help Market MPSS

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Lynx Therapeutics has a secret Santa, a potential business partner who may be willing to provide hardware, software, sales, and money, in return for gene expression data.

Kevin Corcoran, who became president and chief executive officer of Lynx in June, said last week as the company was giving its third-quarter financial results, that Lynx is “quite far along in its negotiations,” with a undisclosed company that is a player in the information technology space. The proposed partnership would help Lynx further commercialize its Massively Parallel Signature Sequencing (MPSS) technology.

“We see ourselves collaborating with an IT company by providing the data content while they design the software algorithms,” Corcoran said. “The IT company would market the data, hardware and analysis tools to pharmas, biotechs, ag companies, and research institutes.”

This collaboration would begin in the form of a study to be conducted with a research organization, Corcoran said.

“We would analyze the gene expression patterns from samples from the institute,” Corcoran said. The IT company would pay Lynx for its data and Lynx could sell to companies downstream of its partner, he said.

Partnership Santa may have to look beyond Lynx’s revenues when determining whether the Hayward, Calif., company was naughty or nice.

The company reported net revenues of $4.8 million for the third quarter, down from $5.7 million for the year-ago quarter and a net loss of $3.3 million, down from $3.7 million for the year-ago quarter. In June, the company restructured, focusing on its Massively Parallel Signature Sequencing technology and laying off 30 percent of its workforce after raising private-equity financing of $22.6 million.

MPSS, the brainchild of Nobel laureate scientist Sidney Brenner, consists of tags that attach to the ends of DNA fragments in the sample to be studied, and complementary antitags that are added to microbeads.

The tagged fragments hybridize to the antitags, and the beads are directed into a flow cell, where the fragments are sequenced using Lynx’s sequencing instrument. The sequenced fragments are then counted to see how much of a certain transcript is present in each sample.

The technology, sold on a services basis, is regarded as producing high quality data at a much higher degree of resolution than other methods.

In addition to the negotiations with the yet-to-be-named IT company, Lynx said it had other collaborations ongoing.

The company just completed an initial MPSS analysis of cancer gene expression for the Ludwig Institute of Cancer Research, which now plans to expand its use of the Lynx technology to its 10 branches around the world, Corcoran said.

Lynx is also engaged with DuPont, the National Cancer Institute, and Takara Bio, which is marketing MPSS in Japan.

“Our goal remains to move to profitability as soon as possible,” Corcoran said. “We estimate getting operating results approaching break-even for the fourth quarter and cash-flow neutrality.”

— MOK

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