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Incyte Offers Gene-Matching and Clone-Purchasing Service on E-Commerce Site

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ALO ALTO, Calif.--Incyte, which dropped Pharmaceuticals from its name last month in favor of Genomics, launched its dot-com extension this month. "Genomics plus the internet equals the next revolution in accelerating biological research," explained CEO Roy Whitfield, who said the company plans to offer all of its products online by year end.

To start, Incyte is offering a version of its proprietary human genome database to web users at http://www.incyte.com. LifeSeq Gene-by-Gene will permit researchers to access, one at a time, gene sequence matches or physical copies of genes. Users will be able to query Incyte's LifeSeq database, which contains 3.9 million unique ESTs, 50,000 genes that are not available in the public domain, 25,000 full-length or 5-prime complete gene sequences, and 837 Incyte-unique cDNA libraries. The company has also noted that, contrary to GenBank, its database offers a "genecentric view" of the genome.

Scientists who are already conducting research based on the public human genome sequence are the site's target customers. Such researchers could use the service to obtain additional information about specific genes and to order copies of the genes for use in lab research.

The process works like this: After agreeing to Incyte's terms and conditions, a user may submit a confidential sequence query on a gene to conduct an "exact match search" at no cost. The website asks users to input a nucleotide sequence between 100 and 1,000 base pairs in length, in Fasta format, consisting of at least 96 percent AGCT bases. The Gene-by-Gene service performs a Blast 2-nucleotide query against Incyte's LifeSeq database and, within two business days, returns an email directing the user to a secure web page where the response has been stored. A user may then decide whether to purchase via e-mail additional sequence data or the physical clone.

Prices listed on the site are $20,000 for a complete gene view, $6,000 for most 5-prime EST sequences, $15,000 for a full-length clone, and $8,000 for most 5-prime EST clones. A promotional deal offers academic users 50 percent discounts.

While a statement posted on the site promises that the company will not disclose, retain, or distribute information regarding clients' "submitted specific sequence information," Incyte does reserve the right to retain and use data to monitor its clients' compliance with the user agreement and subsequent license agreements.

The company called the offering the first step in a multipronged, year-long plan to continue broadening its customer base and to deliver a complete online suite of internet-enabled database products. These include a broader range of relevant content, enhanced search capabilities, simplified navigation, and the opportunity to receive products directly via the internet.

--Adrienne Burke

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