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Arena to Evaluate Atugen s Antisense Technology

NEW YORK, Sept 10 – Atugen, a Berlin-based functional genomics company, said Monday that Arena Pharmaceuticals had agreed to evaluate its G-protein coupled receptor technology.

Under the terms of the deal, Atugen’s US-based subsidiary will receive central nervous system gene targets from Arena for evaluation using its GeneBlocs gene expression technologies. The company will then try to determine gene function in vivo.

"We are well aware of the contribution antisense oligonucleotide approaches have made to the validation of peripheral drug targets," Martin Gore, a senior scientist at Arena, said in a statement.

"We hope that this technology validation study will uncover the general utility of antisense oligonucleotide technologies, particularly Atugen's proprietary GeneBloc technology, for CNS target validation,” he added. 

Based in San Diego, Arena is mainly focused on finding and developing new drugs that act on G protein-coupled receptors. 

Atugen said that unlike knockout technology, its “knockdown” methodology allows researchers to reduce expression of specific genes in designated cells. The company added that this provides a highly selective and low toxicity way of evaluating gene expression. Plus, Atugen said that its technology can be used after the genes have been developed in utero, reducing the number of false positives that occur in knockout systems.

“Atugen's technology overcomes the problems associated with in vivo target validation using 'target knockouts,’ which result in the total inhibition of gene function from embryo to adult,” the company said in a statement.
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