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By Melissa Trudinger, Australian Biotechnology News

March 17, 2004 | Genetic Technologies (GTG), the Australian biotech company at the heart of a controversy surrounding its patents on the genetic mapping applications of noncoding (junk) DNA, has added another large company to its tally of licensees -- Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings (LabCorp).

Burlington, N.C.-based LabCorp is one of the biggest clinical diagnostics service providers in the world, with revenues of $2.5 billion in 2002. In addition to clinical diagnostics services, including genetic and genomic testing in North America, LabCorp also offers testing services for clinical trials in the United States and Europe.

Although details were not disclosed due to confidentiality agreements between the two companies, the deal includes a signing fee plus annual payments for the life of the patents, which expire in 2015 (see “Playing By Aussie Rules,” Aug. 2003 Bio-IT World, page 24). "It's a significant transaction cash-wise," says GTG executive chairman Mervyn Jacobson.

Jacobson says the deal is significant for a number of reasons. "LabCorp is a huge company, so it's a bit of a bellwether for the industry. For them to take a license is very significant. Also, they are a major customer of Applera, so it says they are not waiting for Applera to protect them."

GTG is currently pursuing legal action against Applera (parent company of Applied Biosystems, Celera Genomics, and Celera Diagnostics), which GTG says has infringed its noncoding DNA patents (see “GTG Suing Applera, Covance over Junk DNA Patent” Oct. 2003 Bio-IT World, page 12).

LabCorp is withdrawing its own claim against GTG, filed as a Declaratory Action against the company in the District Court of New Jersey, as a result of signing the new agreement. LabCorp has also expressed interest in working with GTG on its fetal DNA testing patents being developed by GTG subsidiary RareCellect. Jacobson says that LabCorp has a three-month period to review the patents and associated technology for potential future application.

Last year, GTG granted licenses to Sequenom, Perlegen Sciences, Myriad Genetics, and Pyrosequencing, among others.





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