The once white-hot investment climate for proteomics has cooled, sending companies scrambling to recast themselves. Biotech analysts and investors say interest in proteomics companies peaked about a year ago with a rash of them competing in the technology and database sectors. In Europe, proteomics companies have also experienced a downturn, with biotech stocks falling 40% from their peak in 2000. Developing a new generation of technology and digitally mapping the proteome was, relatively speaking, the easy part.

Investors now dismiss such technology and database products as low-profit commodities. These funders, including large drug-making corporations, increasingly turn to companies directly involved in the difficult work of finding a potential drug or bankable diagnostic product from the proteomics data. "There is always money for high-class stories," says Stephen Parker, chief financial officer of British-based Oxford GlycoSciences. "But the general climate is poor. Fortunately, OGS presently does not need to tap the...

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