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EU Awards $5.3M to Consortium Developing RNAi Screening Methods

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Cytoo will coordinate a project announced on Monday that aims to combine high-throughput applications of RNAi with Cytoo's new cell normalization technology.

As part of the project, being funded with €4 million ($5.3 million) over three years under the European Commission's Seventh Framework Programme, Cytoo will partner with Cenix BioScience, Bioquant/Heidelberg University, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, and Institute FTMC.

The project will combine Cenix's high-content screening applications of RNAi with Cytoo's micropattern-enhanced cell-based assays, a technology for normalizing cultured cell behavior by growing them on adhesive micropatterns.

The consortium called MEHTRICS ultimately hopes to develop methodologies to include test-scale RNAi screens for basic and disease-relevant processes, Cytoo said, adding the work will include multiple disciplines such as chemistry, nanotechnology, high-throughput cell biology, pharmacology, automated image analysis, and mathematical modeling.

"Since experimental designs required for RNAi screens are among the most demanding of all HT/HC studies in cultured cells, encompassing virtually all technical challenges also encountered in compound screens, we expect the proposed scope of activities to deliver the maximal potential for impactful innovation, widespread adoption and clear relevance for all major applications of HT/HC cell screening, from RNAi to miRNA modulation to analyses of drug action," Christophe Echeverri, CEO and CSO of Cenix, said in a statement.

Ulrich Schwarz and Holger Erfle will lead the work at Bioquant/Heidelberg for MEHTRICS, while Pierre Gönczy will direct work at EPFL, and Ramūnas Valiokas will oversee the research at Institute FTMC, based in Vilnius, Lithuania.

MEHTRICS administrative and financial activities will be coordinated by French firm Vitamib, which designs and manages collaborative research projects.