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LifeGen Tech Nets $124K SBIR Grant to Fund Array-Based Caloric-Restriction Study

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By Justin Petrone

The National Institutes of Health has awarded LifeGen Technologies a Small Business Innovation Research grant to develop a genetic panel that can be used to screen for compounds related to fat tissue and diet, the company said last week.

Madison, Wis.-based LifeGen will use gene-expression arrays to identify genes in adipose tissue that are regulated by a calorie-restricted diet. The one-year, $123,895 grant from the National Institute of Aging began Sept. 1.

LifeGen will use its array platform to screen for compounds that have beneficial effects on adipose tissue in a manner similar to that of a calorie-restricted diet. Caloric restriction is the "only dietary intervention proven to increase both maximum and average lifespan in mammals, as well delaying age-related diseases," LifeGen said in a statement. "Because caloric restriction reduces body fat and markers of inflammation related to disease, it is thought that metabolic alterations in fat may underlie many of the health benefits associated with this dietary intervention."

The grant "clearly validates the enormous potential of LifeGen's technology in discovering the next generation of anti-aging compounds, based on caloric restriction science," LifeGen Co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer Tomas Prolla said.

LifeGen was founded in 2000 by Prolla and Richard Weindruch, both professors at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The company uses its gene-expression array platform, which it licensed from the university, to study how the aging process is retarded by caloric restriction.

Company officials did not respond to an e-mail seeking additional comment in time for this publication.

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