If biotech stocks are on their way back, as analysts assert, there's quite a list of winners to choose from. Many investors are flocking to Oncogene Science (ONCS), whose links with big drug houses are paying off.

"This collaborative strategy has left Oncogene undiscovered yet financially and technologically strong," argues Edward Hurwitz of Robertson Stephens in San Francisco. So far, Oncogene has an impressive list of partners: Pfizer, Ciba-Geigy, Hoechst, Beckton Dickinson, and American Home Products. The first four hold stakes in Oncogene --of about 5% each.

Oncogene designs in-vitro and live-cell tests to discover leads on drugs for cancer, infectious diseases, diabetes, and cardiovascular and neurological disorders. "We're working on 29 targets, and we've identified leads in 22 of them," says CEO Gary Frashier.

One of them is being developed with Pfizer for an anticancer compound that's expected to begin clinical tests in mid-1996. Another drug, being developed with AHP's Wyeth-Ayerst, is slated for more tests in 1996.

That's not all: One money manager accumulating shares says Oncogene is talking to another U.S. pharmaceutical house to sign a pact for one of its leads.

Currently trading at 7 1/4, the shares are worth 15, based on what Oncogene has in its "treasure chest of new-drug leads," says Hurwitz. The company admits it will stay in the red through '97 but expects to make money by '98.


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