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Human Genome stock continues slide


ROCKVILLE -- Human Genome Sciences Inc. said yesterday that its operations won't be affected by a National Institutes of Health decision not to pursue patents on gene fragments.

The company's stock plummeted 14.4 percent Friday when the decision was announced. Yesterday, it lost an additional 7.7 percent, closing down $1.25, at $15.

William A. Haseltine, Human Genome CEO, said the company's research includes determination of the full-length gene sequence as well as studies to confirm their biological function and commercial utility.

"[Human Genome Sciences] depends on conventional patent law that protects inventions at corporations, such as Amgen, Genentech, Biogen, Chiron and others," he said.

Craig Venter, who directs Human Genome's research efforts, initially headed the NIH project.

The NIH decided Thursday not to appeal the U.S. Patent Office's rejection of 2,421 gene fragments identified through a computerized process. In many instances, the Patent Office said, the NIH did not know what function the gene fragment served.

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