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New England Biolabs Gets $1.2M SBIR Grant for Epigenetics Research

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – New England Biolabs announced this week that it has received a $1.2 million fast track Small Business Innovation Research grant for research into and development of enzymatic reagents for epigenetics.

The funding will further work NEB has been conducting into the MspJI family of restriction enzymes. The Ipswich, Mass.-based firm recently identified the enzyme family and demonstrated its use in mapping epigenetic modifications.

In a statement, New England Biolabs, which develops enzymes for molecular biology applications, said MspJI enzymes are able to cleave small fragments of DNA for use in applications such as next-generation sequencing and for identifying 5-hydroxymethylcytosine modifications when used in conjunction with T4 B-glucosyltransferase.

The SBIR grant will go toward simplifying the study of epigenetic DNA modifications and developing their potential for use as biomarkers, the firm said.

"The discovery of MspJI and its homologs offers a significant opportunity for greatly expanding the role of restriction enzymes in epigenetics research," NEB Chief Scientific Officer Richard Roberts said in a statement. Use of MspJI and other restriction enzymes in its family will "simplify the study of DNA methylation and will accelerate our understanding of the ole of 5-hydroxymethylcytosine in the epigenome."

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