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US universities forge deals with genetics company

24 July 2000
By BioNews
Appeared in BioNews 68

Three more US universities have signed up for access to Celera Genomic's gene databases, announced the US Company last week. The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, the University of Cincinnati and Ohio State University join Harvard and Vanderbilt University as academic subscribers to Celera's version of the human genome.

The financial terms of the deals remain undisclosed, though Celera says it is likely to receive between $5000 and $15,000 a year from each scientist who uses their information. The company will provide subscribers with a 'processed' version of the entire human genetic code, indicating the location of human gene sequences.

Craig Venter, director of Celera, said last week that the company would finish sequencing the entire mouse genetic code by the end of the year, three years ahead of the publicly-funded effort. Speaking at the 18th International Conference of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Venter told delegates that comparative genomics will be the single most important tool for analysing genomes. By comparing human genes with their known counterparts in other species, scientists may be able to work out what they do in the body.

Venter also said that Celera will be moving into proteomics research - the identification of human proteins and their role in disease. Initially, the firm will look for the abnormal proteins found in cancerous cells, information that Venter hopes to use to develop new tests and vaccines for cancer. 'Vaccines could even be patient-specific' he said.

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