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NCI and Merck Sign with Aurora for Its Technology

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SAN DIEGO--Aurora Biosciences announced a two-year collaboration in which it will allow the US National Cancer Institute use of its proprietary GenomeScreen technology to locate rare or low abundance transcripts in tumor cells. These transcripts often cause problems for traditional gene capture methods, and are obstacles to completing the sequencing of the entire human genome.

The company's work will support the institute's Cancer Genome Anatomy Project, a research initiative to build an index of the thousands of genes involved in human tumor development. Aurora will concentrate on genes that could be passed over by other less precise gene identification techniques in order to ensure the completeness of the tumor gene index.

Separately, Merck has exercised an option to purchase additional voltage ion probe reader systems from Aurora for ion channel drug discovery. This option was included in the collaborative research and license agreement signed by the companies in December 1997.

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