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Genomica, Celera Have Letter of Intent to Link Discovery Manager with Databases

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GENOMICA of Boulder has signed a letter of intent with Celera Genomics to develop a version of Discovery Manager that will be linked to the Celera Discovery System Genome Reference Database product. This non-exclusive arrangement will enable Celera’s customers to use Discovery Manager’s tool base to access Celera’s databases, said Genomica CEO Teresa Ayers.

Both companies will market the system with the hope of selling more tools to mutual customers, she added.

“We’re working on defining what the engineering tasks have to be but the goal is to let customers who buy Discovery Manager access the Celera database so that they can bring that data back inside their firewalls, inside their computing environment, and store that data in the Discovery Manager database,” said Ayers.

The companies hope to have a signed contract by the first quarter of 2001. A Celera spokeswoman could not be reached for comment.

Under the tentative deal, Celera will sell its Discovery database system, keeping all of those proceeds while Genomica will sell Discovery Manager and retain 100 percent of the revenue, said Ayers.

“But we will co-market for each other,” she added.

Under the terms of a non-exclusive deal, Genomica is free to make similar deals with other content providers and the company intends to do so, said Ayers. While Genomica sees Celera as a leader in genomic content, the company is trying to be neutral. Likewise, Celera is able to go to other genetic analysis tools providers.

The letter of intent was signed in the third quarter and was cited in Genomica’s S-1 statement, which was filed with the SEC prior to the company’s initial public offering, said Ayers. Genomica raised $122 million on the Nasdaq last month.

Ayers declined to comment on the dollar, manpower, and time costs of integrating Discovery Manage with Celera’s databases.

Analysts said the deal would help Genomica to gain market exposure. “It’s a door opener for Genomica in terms of users accessing the informatics software through the Celera database,” said Charles Duncan, senior biotechnology analyst at Prudential Vector Healthcare Group.

Separately, Genomica announced that it released a new version of its LinkMapper genotyping software based on Sun Microsystems’ Java and Oracle technology. This new release is Genomica’s first of a planned line of products to be based on Java and Oracle. LinkMapper will be sold by Applied Biosystems along with Applied Bio’s genotyping systems.

As part of the deal between the two companies, which was announced in May, Genomica will continue to enhance LinkMapper, which is a subset of the genetic analysis component of Discovery Manager. LinkMapper is designed to work with Applied Bio’s new ABI Prism GeneMapper genotyping software for genetic data management and analysis.

Genomica and Applied Bio will continue to develop new products that work with Applied Bio’s genotyping hardware but Ayers said it’s too soon in that process to discuss specifics.

Beyond the Applied Bio relationship, Genomica has said it plans to expand its product offerings to include modules in other areas of drug discovery and development such as gene and protein expression analysis and protein function prediction.

“That’s part of why we went public — to develop the proceeds that we need to move into those areas aggressively,” said Ayers, who declined to say when those products will be ready.

The company also plans to complete its redevelopment of Discovery Manager using the Java/Oracle platform in 2001. Genomica expects to incur additional costs of approximately $9 million to complete the transition to the new technology architecture, said Duncan.

—Matthew Dougherty

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