Beckman Gets License for Genetics Technology

From a Times Staff Writer

Oxford University said it has licensed a new technology for analyzing genetic material to Beckman Instruments Inc. of Fullerton.

Beckman scientists said Tuesday they hope that the technology, developed by Oxford Prof. Ed Southern, can be commercialized in an instrument that could analyze the sequence of genes--and spot abnormal ones--more quickly and accurately than existing technology.

If the technology proves viable, such a device could have a wide range of potential applications in research, medical diagnosis, environmental monitoring and, possibly, the ongoing effort to map the human genome, Beckman scientists said.

Essentially, the device would be able to quickly analyze arrays of DNA, to compare, for example, the known gene pattern for cystic fibrosis against the gene sequence of a patient's DNA, said Michael G. Velez of Beckman's bioanalytical systems group.

The device could conceivably be used for genetic screening, to diagnose hereditary diseases, for genetic engineering and for forensic work, Velez said.

Beckman licensed the rights from Oxford's technology transfer company, Isis Innovation Ltd., for an undisclosed fee. Velez said the company plans an initial, yearlong study and does not expect to bring a product to market for at least 2 1/2 years.

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