Gene company likely to be taken over


A Cambridge company that has been granted a patent relating to the identification of 2,500 human genes is likely to be taken over.

Genostic was founded in 1997 by eminent geneticist Dr Gareth Roberts, who has made a long study of identifying links between disease symptoms and genetic markers.

Sciona, the UK's leading personalised well-being and medicine company, has now conditionally agreed to buy Genostic and has been working closely with Dr Roberts for some time.

Genostic Pharma says it believes the genes could hold the key to medicine in the future and are central to the understanding of molecular medicine.

It says the variance displayed in the 2,500 will make it possible to design drugs to suit each individual patient.

Sciona already provides personalised nutrition and dietary advice based on the way genes affect metabolism.

By adding Genostic's discovery, the company will be able to offer detailed information about disease and the most effective way of managing it for each individual.

Andy Allars at Prelude Trust, the venture capital fund based at Over which has an investment in Genostic, says Dr Roberts' work could radically improve the health service by making it possible to predict the individual course of illness, how each patient will respond to treatment, and which drugs will give the fastest recovery with minimum side effects.

At the moment, inappropriate prescription and wrong dosage are costing health services around the world tens of millions of pounds a year.

Chris Martin, Sciona boss, says: 'Genostic offers the first system for developing personalised medicine.

'We are excited at the prospect of working with companies all over the world to harness their technologies and help develop a global approach to personalised medicine.

'We believe what we have will form a key element for standardising gene profiling.'

Dr Roberts explains: 'The Human Genome Project was a big vision that needed to deliver. The technology was ready to go, the big problem was finding a way to apply it and deliver the benefits direct to the patient.

'We have helped solve this problem and are excited at the prospects for leading the development of personalised medicine.'

Mr Allars says the discovery and patent puts Genostic and Sciona at the very forefront of genetic profiling for personalised medicine and means they will have a world lead in what is potentially a multi-billion pound market.