THE WOODLANDS, Texas, Jan. 25 /PRNewswire/ -- Lexicon Genetics Incorporated announced today a multi-year functional genomics research agreement with Searle under Lexicons OmniBank(TM) Internet Universal(TM) program. Under the agreement, Searle will have access to mice from Lexicons OmniBank library of 60,000 knockout mouse clones for use in determining the function of genes that represent potential drug targets. Searle will also have access to mice generated under Lexicons homologous recombination program, with genetic alterations directed at specific drug targets of interest.

"Lexicon is pleased to have the opportunity to help advance Searles drug discovery efforts," said Arthur T. Sands, M.D., Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of Lexicon Genetics Incorporated. "Our functional genomics technology platform -- including OmniBank and our complementary custom mutant mouse technologies -- provides companies in the pharmaceutical industry with key resources for the acceleration of drug discovery, target validation and drug development programs."

Searle will have access to knockout mice generated from the OmniBank library and custom knockouts generated by homologous recombination, in exchange for annual access and project fees with minimum annual commitments.

Lexicons OmniBank database and mouse clone library presently contains more than 60,000 embryonic stem (ES) cell clones stored in liquid nitrogen, each identified by DNA sequence from altered genes stored in a relational database. Each OmniBank ES cell clone may be grown into a knockout mouse, a mouse whose DNA has been mutated to eliminate the function of, or "knockout", a specified gene. Knockout mice have become the preferred method, in both academia and industry, for the study of gene function in mammals, and provide valuable predictive information as to which gene products are valid drug targets or therapeutic proteins for pharmaceutical development. OmniBank is based on gene trapping technology developed by Lexicon scientists at the companys research laboratories in the Woodlands, Texas.

Lexicons OmniBank library is complemented by its technology for the creation of custom knockout mice with genetic alterations directed at specific drug targets of interest, using homologous recombination techniques. Lexicon generates mice in which the gene of interest has been knocked out or conditionally knocked out (using recombinase technologies), and mice in which a point mutation has been introduced in the gene of interest. Lexicons collaborators receive the benefit of the key patented enabling technologies for the development of custom knockout mice which are owned by or licensed to Lexicon, including positive/negative selection, Cre/lox and isogenic DNA, as well as Lexicons proprietary lambda KOS system.

Searle, the pharmaceutical sector of Monsanto Company (NYSE: MTC), develops, produces and markets prescription pharmaceuticals worldwide. The company focuses its expertise on five therapeutic areas: arthritis, cardiovascular disease, cancer, sleep, and womens health. Searle, the leading arthritis company worldwide, is the largest provider of branded prescription arthritis medications in the United States and is the first company to bring COX-2 technology to this marketplace. For more information on Searle, access www.searlehealthnet.com.

Lexicon Genetics Incorporated (www.lexicon-genetics.com) is a pioneer in the design, development and application of high-throughput gene trapping and mutagenesis technologies for gene discovery and functional genomics. Lexicon employs its proprietary Human Gene Trap(TM) database, OmniBank(R) library of gene-trapped mouse clones and its Internet-based bioinformatics software in an integrated technology platform for drug discovery and drug target validation. Lexicon has an agreement with Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Inc. for access to the Human Gene Trap and OmniBank databases. In addition to Searle, Lexicon has commercial OmniBank alliances with ZymoGenetics/Novo Nordisk and DuPont Pharmaceuticals. Access to a substantial portion of the OmniBank database is available to researchers at pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies and academic institutions throughout the world through Lexicons www.lexgen.com genomics Internet exchange. Lexicon Genetics Incorporated, founded in 1995, is a privately-held company based in The Woodlands, Texas, U.S.A.