Manufacturer Up In Arms Incensed that the terms exclude industrial scientists, Merck announces sponsorship of competing project

A powerful new, privately held database of human complementary DNA (cDNA) sequences has become available to researchers eager to test its capabilities to rapidly identify new genes. The proposed terms of access to the database, however, exclude pharmaceutical and other industry-affiliated scientists, angering some companies, including drug giant Merck and Co. Inc. The conditions have prompted the Whitehouse Station, N.J.-based firm to sponsor another, largely duplicative project that will deposit data into a publicly accessible database.

Other terms of access have raised concerns among potential noncommercial users of the database developed by J. Craig Venter, president of The Institute of Genomic Research (TIGR), Gaithersburg, Md., a nonprofit research institute. These include the right to preview papers on resulting discoveries and to retain control of patents.

The database, two years in development, currently consists...

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