Human Genome expects $25 million from British firm Payment would be final installment in licensing deal with SmithKline

Biotechnology

January 16, 1996|By Mark Guidera | Mark Guidera,SUN STAFF

Human Genome Sciences, the Rockville company developing a library about human genes and how that information can be used to create new medical therapies, says it expects to get a $25 million payment from British pharmaceutical giant SmithKline Beecham PLC as a result of meeting a milestone for mapping genes.

The payment, which first must be approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission, is the last one due under a 1993 licensing deal between the two companies.

SmithKline Beecham, which has already paid Human Genome about $100 million under the licensing deal, hopes to develop and market therapeutic vaccine and diagnostic products from the human gene database developed by the young Rockville firm. SmithKline retains exclusive rights to develop products from the data for the next five years. Human Genome has kept the rights to use the human gene information to develop gene therapies and other products.

Dr. William A. Haseltine, chief executive officer for Human Genome, said the company actually met the final research milestone almost six months ago.

"This is a good measure, I think, of our programs that we were able to meet the milestone on target," said Dr. Haseltine. "We're very proud that we've been able to meet some very stringent research requirements."

dTC Neither company would disclose specifics of the research milestone, but it entailed Human Genome's significantly expanding its data bank of human genes. The company is aiming to identify the estimated 100,000 genes found in every human cell. As of April 1994, Human Genome had found 45,000 genes.

Dr. Haseltine said the recent milestone was significant because the research not only added to the data bank but also showed that certain proteins -- which get their roles assigned by genes -- had potential commercial uses.

Under terms of the agreement, about $12.3 million of SmithKline's payment will be in the form of a stock purchase, raising its equity position in Human Genome to more than 10 percent.

The rest of the milestone payment will be received as revenue.

Since striking the deal in 1993, SmithKline has been Human Genome's major source of revenue. The company has not yet developed any products from its research findings.

Human Genome Sciences stock, which has seen a 152 percent increase since last January, closed yesterday at $34.50 per share, down $1.50.

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