Incyte calls time on selling gene data
information division, saying that the availability of free genetic
databases on the Internet has scuppered the unit's business.
Incyte joins a number of other companies that have abandoned the idea of trying to improve the value of genomic data, on the one hand by supplying more complete sequence databases and on the other by adding functionality such as searchability and comprehensive annotations.
Like Human Genome Sciences, Celera, Myriad Genetics and Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Incyte has now turned its attention to developing new therapeutic products. Analysts said the decision was a wise one, allowing it to focus on the potentially valuable patent estate generated through its gene-hunting activities.
The company is cutting 57 per cent of its workforce - or 257 jobs - in order to save $50 million in annual running costs. Incyte reported a net loss in 2003 of $166.5 million ($2.33 per share), compared with a $136.9 million loss ($2.03) in 2002. As of 31 December, 2003, the company had cash and short-term investments of approximately $294 million.
Incyte's discovery and development programs are focused on novel, orally-available small molecule drugs to treat diseases such as HIV, inflammation, cancer and diabetes.
Currently, the company's pipeline is headed by Reverset, a once-daily nucleoside analogue that is in Phase II clinical trials and is being developed as a once-a-day oral therapy for patients with HIV infections. Results of a Phase II dose-escalating trial involving 30 treatment-naive patients are scheduled to be presented later this month.
Incyte is also developing antagonists of the CCR2 receptor, which is found on monocytes and controls their migration into sites of inflammation. CCR2 blockers may have potential therapeutic applications in rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and atherosclerosis. A lead orally-available, small molecule CCR2 compound has been identified and is expected to enter clinical testing in the first half of this year.
Another programme is seeking novel protease inhibitors for breast cancer and other solid tumours. An orally-available inhibitor has been identified and is now progressing through preclinical studies.
Finally, Incyte is developing protein phosphatase inhibitors that may have potential in the treatment of diabetes.