Updated from 2:34 p.m. EST
Comments made by the chief scientist of a government-funded consortium that is attempting to decode the genetic makeup of a human being sent the stock of its rival on a downward spiral.
Celera Genomics Group
, a unit of
, plunged 17%, or 22 1/8, to 108 1/4 in late Monday trading, four
days after the Rockville, Md.-based company announced it had completed the sequencing phase of one person's genome and a day after Dr. Francis Collins of the
Human Genome Project
was quoted as saying that Celera had not actually finished the job. (Celera closed down 27 3/8, or 21%, at 103).
According to the
, Collins claimed that Celera did not even complete half of its planned effort. "There were a couple unfortunate quotes that implied that they had sequenced the whole human genome but that's just not true," he reportedly said at the
Human Genome Organization
conference in Vancouver.
Collins could not be reached for comment since he is aboard a flight to Raleigh, N.C. However, Cathy Yarbrough, a spokesperson for the Human Genome Project, said that she had spoken to Collins during his layover in Chicago and that his statements had been misconstrued. In fact, he does not dispute Celera's assertions. What he said was that the final, highly accurate, completed sequence of the human genome -- the so-called "stand the test of time" version equivalent to the periodic table of elements -- by any group is still two or three years away since closing the gaps in the sequence is a difficult and challenging task.
Celera's stock price shot up 15% on Thursday after the company announced its achievement, beating the Human Genome Project to the punch.