Public Release: 

Cancer Genetics Joint Venture Formed By Memorial Sloan-Kettering And Sequana

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center


The statements in this news release that are not historical facts are forward looking statements based upon current expectations, including the risk that this non-binding letter of intent will not culminate in a signed agreement. Such forward looking statements involve risks and uncertainties, including Sequana's ability to utilize its technologies to discover genes and to translate gene discoveries into potential drug leads, the impact of competitive gene discoveries, technologies and potential products, and other risks and uncertainties set forth in "Risk Factors" and elsewhere in Sequana's Registration Statement on Form S-1 and the prospectus dated March 7, 1996 constituting a part thereof. Actual results and the timing of certain events could differ materially from those indicated in the forward looking statements as a result of these or other factors.

CONTACT: Sequana Therapeutics, Inc.,
La Jolla
Bob Giargiari,

Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer
Center, New York
Avice Meehan,


NEW YORK, Aug. 20, 1996 -- Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Sequana Therapeutics, Inc. (Nasdaq: SQNA; "Sequana") today announced the signing of a letter of intent to create a joint venture in the area of cancer genetics to research and identify genes and related genetic sequence information that will be of value in the prognosis, diagnosis and possible treatment of many common cancers.

The joint venture will be a free standing research and development company that will combine the cancer pathology resources and clinical expertise of Memorial Sloan-Kettering with Sequana's advanced "high-throughput" DNA sequencing and genomics capabilities. Sequana expects that the joint venture will be the sole repository for all of Sequana's future research in this field.

The joint venture will focus initially on cancers of the prostate, breast and colon -- three of the most common forms of cancer. Together, these cancers account for about 40 percent of all new cancer cases. It is estimated that approximately 500,000 people in the U.S. this year will be diagnosed with one of these cancers and that more than 130,000 people suffering from these diseases will die.

All forms of cancer result from defects in genes -- the building blocks of life -- but less than ten percent are considered hereditary. Sequana and Memorial Sloan-Kettering will focus on the majority of cancers caused by "somatic" mutations -- non-hereditary defects occurring in the genes of the body's cells that increase the risk for developing cancer.

Improvement in a physician's ability to predict the course of a patient's cancer is a major medical need. Despite success in developing prognostic markers -- such as the size, location, stage, and histological grade of a tumor -- current prognostic methods fall short of being definitive in determining the best course of therapy for many patients with breast, prostate, or colon cancers. As a result, the best medical practice still requires that some patients receive treatment that may not be necessary or may be inappropriate to cure their disease.

For example, although many prostate cancers spread rapidly and require aggressive treatment using surgery and/or radiotherapy, many grow very slowly and such treatment is unnecessary. Unfortunately, physicians frequently cannot distinguish which type of cancer a man has at the time of diagnosis and must therefore make therapeutic recommendations that subject many men to more aggressive treatment than is necessary. Similarly, surgery alone can cure more than 60 percent of all women whose cancer is limited to the breast, but physicians are unable to determine which women fall into this group at the time of diagnosis. Consequently, many women receive chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy when surgery alone is all that is necessary to cure their disease.

Sequana and Memorial Sloan-Kettering believe that the identification of gene defects in the early stage of cancer and relating such gene defects to the subsequent course of treatment may provide tests that could predict how tumors will progress and respond to different therapies. In addition to such prognostic tests, the novel techniques for the analysis of genetic abnormalities in tumor cells used in this joint effort should yield better diagnostic tests and possible targets for improved cancer therapies. The objective of the collaboration is to improve the ability to diagnose, control and cure cancers.

Memorial Sloan-Kettering brings to the joint venture access to a retrospective database that combines more than 30 years of patient tumor-tissue samples and information regarding diagnosis, staging, and treatment outcome. This retrospective database will be supplemented by information collected through Memorial Sloan-Kettering's ongoing clinical activities.

Sequana will provide its outstanding proprietary gene discovery platform, including the Company's advanced capabilities in statistical genetics, population genetics, genome scanning, DNA sequencing, and bioinformatics. Sequana also will provide functional genomics technologies to complement Memorial Sloan-Kettering's extensive resources in cancer biology. The joint venture may seek outside research collaborations to strengthen its overall capabilities.

Sequana and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center will each contribute $5 million to initially fund the joint venture, a stand-alone, for-profit entity, which will be jointly owned by the two organizations. Sequana and Memorial Sloan-Kettering expect to complete a definitive agreement in late1996.

"Sequana brings to this collaboration genomics expertise with a focus on cancers that is among the very best in industry or academia," said Paul A. Marks, M.D., president of Memorial Sloan-Kettering. "Indeed, after exploring the requirements for successfully pursuing the objectives for this project for almost two years, we concluded that our best chance of success lies in collaboration with Sequana, " he added. "We look forward to working with their scientists to develop a world-class operation for finding cancer-causing genes and identifying diagnostic and prognostic markers that will be clinically useful in addressing important questions in the management of patients with common cancers."

"We are pleased to have joined forces with the world's premier cancer center to form a highly important collaboration in cancer genetics," added Kevin J. Kinsella, president and CEO of Sequana. "Memorial Sloan-Kettering has some of the world's best clinicians, superior clinical expertise, and unparalleled patient resources that will contribute to the success of our shared mission to ease the significant burden of cancer on society."

Sequana Therapeutics, Inc. (Nasdaq: SQNA) is a leading genomics company that uses industrial-scale gene finding technologies and advanced biology to uncover the genetic cause of common human diseases. With gene discovery programs in asthma, diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis, schizophrenia, manic depression, prostate cancer and other important disease areas, Sequana is well-positioned to find disease-causing genes, determine their biological function, and translate gene discoveries into novel diagnostic and therapeutic products.

Memorial Sloan-Kettering is the world's oldest and largest institution dedicated to cancer prevention, treatment, research and education. Named the nation's number one cancer center by U.S. News & World Report for the past four years, Memorial Sloan- Kettering combines excellence in patient care and clinical research with superb basic research that covers a broad spectrum of fundamental biologic areas related to cancer.

NOTE: For background information on Sequana and Memorial Sloan-Kettering, please contact Bob Giargiari, associate director, investor relations, Sequana Therapeutics, at 619/646-8313, or Avice Meehan, vice president, public affairs, Memorial Sloan-Kettering, at 212/639-3580. Visit the organizations' Web sites at and

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