GeneTrace Systems Inc.
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Current in vivo and in vitro models can't keep up with the demand for the safety assessment of large numbers of compounds emerging from high-throughput strategies. Pharmaceutical companies and start-ups are therefore building new systems that they hope will be capable of predicting the toxicity liabilities of new compounds. Cheminformatics can help week out toxic compounds at the lead selection and optimization stage; toxicogenomics may provide a toxicity diagnostic capability at all stages of drug development. For both toxicology approaches, there is not yet enough high quality data to build predictive models. Toxicology-focused cheminformatics programs attempt to consolidate data from hitherto untapped sources; toxicogenomics companies are engaged in the fussy and expensive process of manufacturing data from scratch and validating them with biological experiments.
Proteomics is the new buzzword for an old concept—the analysis of all cellular proteins in parallel. But the field has been revitalized by the assembly of large-scale gene sequence databases, and progress in mass spectrometry techniques for identifying proteins. Will the proteomics companies generate the kind of high-valuation discovery- and information-based businesses that genomics companies have?
DNA chips have application as high-througput assays to determine the function of genes. The chips can also speed positional cloning. Development agreements with pharmaceutical partners should illuminate the DNA chips’ real abilities and applications. Coupled with strong bioinformatics, gene expression microarrays will produce the next generation of genomic databases.
Incyte's strategy for generating near-term revenues tapped into the research core of the business; it would sell information it needed to create for its own purposes anyway. By the end of 1994, Incyte's annual report reflected the retreat from drug development, focusing attention instead on the company's efforts to build and commercialize "a computerized encyclopedia, or database, of human genes and their use."
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Drug Discovery Tools
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