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Celera Licenses Bioinformatics Tools, Genomic Data To Its First Customer

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ROCKVILLE, Md.--Celera Genomics has signed a five-year deal to provide Amgen with a subscription to its database products and access to associated bioinformatics systems and tools for viewing, browsing, and analyzing genomic information. Amgen, headquartered in Thousand Oaks, Calif., will also get early access to new genomic information generated by Celera.

Amgen will have access to three databases being developed by Celera: one that indexes the most current set of human genes; another that provides the complete sequence and annotation of Drosophila melanogaster, produced by Celera; and a third, of the human genome, that includes associated annotation and links to relevant biological and medical information.

A spokesman for Celera told BioInform that the company would not disclose any details at this time about the bioinformatics tools accompanying the databases.

Discovery and development of therapeutic proteins was said to be a "key element" of the relationship. Amgen will retain all rights to any discoveries it makes using

the Celera databases for its drug-discovery processes. Celera will be entitled to receive payments as development milestones are met, and royalties in the event of commercial sales. Amgen also will provide input into the development of Celera's products.

Celera called the agreement, under which it will provide broad access to genomic information as well as custom research to Amgen, a model for relationships with future customers.

Orders for ABI analyzers

Perkin-Elmer, which owns 80 percent of Celera, said validation of sequencing protocols has begun there following the installation of several Perkin-Elmer ABI Prism 3700 DNA Analyzers. Perkin-Elmer introduced the new DNA analysis technology last May at the same time it announced, with Craig Venter, the formation of Celera and Celera's mission to use the instruments to sequence the entire human genome.

After completing a battery of internal tests, Perkin-Elmer said it invited several leading academic labs working on the Human Genome Project to Foster City, Calif., to conduct preliminary analysis procedures on the 3700. Results indicated that the new system could appeal to a broad base of customers so that its sales might overlap more than initially expected with the market for the ABI 377 system and certain competitive instruments, Perkin-Elmer claimed.

Some 230 of the new instruments are expected to be in operation at Celera. In addition, more than 170 units have been ordered by leading genome laboratories, pharmaceutical companies, and academic research institutions, according to Perkin-Elmer. The company said it had begun shipping to several participants in its early-access customer program.

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