Celera Genomics completes acquisition of Calif. company

Paracel products used to search gene databases

Genome research

June 10, 2000|By Julie Bell | Julie Bell,SUN STAFF

Rockville-based Celera Genomics Group completed its acquisition yesterday of Paracel Inc., a company that produces hardware and software used to search and manipulate vast databases of genetic information such as the ones Celera is developing.

"Think of Paracel as the product arm of Celera," said Dr. Kwang-I Yu, chief executive officer of Paracel, back in his office minutes after shareholders approved the transaction in a meeting at the company's Pasadena, Calif., headquarters. He is a Celera senior vice president and general manager of the Paracel product line.

All the equity in privately held Paracel was exchanged for 2.26 million shares of Celera common stock, which closed yesterday at $108.25, up $14.25. The deal, announced late yesterday afternoon, valued Paracel at $244.6 million at yesterday's closing price.

The purchase gives Celera a company that already has big-name customers. Among them: Celera competitor Incyte Genomics of Palo Alto, Calif., Cambridge, Mass.-based Millennium Pharmaceuticals and the Sanger Center in Cambridge, England, a major contributor of information to a public project that has been racing Celera to find - and put in order - all the chemical letters in the human body's genetic recipe.

But Paracel also has sold products to Celera, and the acquisition will allow Celera to fulfill plans to offer customers software systems and tools to better facilitate their ability to use the large amounts of data being generated. Paracel - which has undisclosed revenue and about 100 employees, including an international sales force - also plans to continue selling its products to Celera competitors.

The human genome, the body's chemical recipe distributed in the 23 chromosomes of its cell nuclei, is estimated to have about 3.2 billion chemical letters - a small percentage of which make up genes. It is the genome that Celera and the competing public project are mapping, a project that will give scientists an enormous leg up as they explore how to use the body's own components to block or extinguish disease.

Paracel's products include a supercomputer called GeneMatchera to compare the letters in gene sequences and a text-search supercomputer called TextFindera.

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