OncorMed gains access to major gene database In return, Calif. firm gets 10% of Maryland company


OncorMed Inc., a Gaithersburg biotechnology company, said yesterday that it will collaborate on research and development with Incyte Pharmaceuticals Inc., a California-based gene research company.

As part of the deal, Incyte is taking a 10 percent equity stake, valued at $3 million, in OncorMed, and can purchase additional shares of stock that would raise its equity stake to 20 percent.

Oncor Inc. of Gaithersburg, which financed OncorMed's creation in 1993, is its largest equity holder with 30 percent. "This is our most significant collaboration to date," said Dr. Leslie Alexandre, vice president for corporate affairs at OncorMed.

Under the agreement, Oncor-Med gains access to Incyte's genetic information on healthy and diseased tissue samples, a database the company hopes to use to develop new or improved tools for diagnosing and predicting diseases.

OncorMed's main gene-testing services predict and manage cancer. It lost $5.5 million on revenues of $393,000 in the first nine months of 1996.

Incyte will gain its first partner for the co-development and marketing of services and products, a move that could provide the company with a new source of revenues. Incyte uses computer technologies to identify genes and their likely biological functions.

Until now, Incyte, which lost $7 million on sales of $27.6 million in the first nine months of 1996, has generated revenues by selling access to its database to pharmaceutical companies.

Dr. Timothy J. Triche, chairman and chief executive of OncorMed, said the collaboration would focus first on gene data that could speed the development of promising new therapeutic and diagnostic products for cancer.

But Alexandre, the OncorMed vice president, said the collaboration does not limit the companies to any disease. The companies, however, have not yet established other specific diseases as targets, said Alexandre.

Wall Street did not react strongly to the news. Shares in OncorMed closed at $6.75, down 43.75 cents, while shares in Incyte closed at $65.50, down 50 cents.

Pub Date: 2/26/97

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