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Alnylam, Natural Selection, Quark Biotech, Agilent, Galapagos

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Alnylam Receives Grant for Parkinson's Disease Research

Alnylam Pharmaceuticals said this week that it has received an undisclosed grant from the Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research.

According to the foundation, the grant was awarded to Alnylam's David Bumcrot for a research project exploring the possibility of using siRNAs to target alpha-synuclein, which plays a role in the development of Parkinson's disease.

"By delivering the siRNAs directly into the brains of mice genetically engineered to express excess SNCA protein, we will be able to assess their effects on the development of PD-like symptoms over time," the grant abstract states.

The award to Alnylam was one of seven that the Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research funded under its Target Validation initiative. The seven grants were worth a total of $1.5 million, the foundation said.


Natural Selection Wins NSF Grant for microRNA Detection Technology

Natural Selection said this week it has won a two-year, $406,000 Phase II SBIR grant from the National Science Foundation to further develop microRNA detection and analysis software.

According to the company, the NSF will also provide up to $250,000 in matching funds when third parties invest in the technology. "We are actively pursuing several avenues in this regard to ensure the broadest possible successful commercialization of our technology," Natural Selection CEO David Fogel said in a statement.

During phase I of the grant, company researchers developed machine learning approaches to discriminate fRNA coding regions from non-coding regions in four model eukaryotes. During phase II, the scientists plan to refine evolved neural networks for ten eukaryotes to discriminate these regions, and to validate predicted fRNA coding regions in humans and mice experimentally.

As RNAi News reported last year, Natural Selection has developed an algorithm to detect microRNAs (see RNAi News, 6/18/2004).


Quark Biotech Becomes Certified CGH Service Shop for Agilent Arrays

Quark Biotech said this week it has become a certified service provider for Agilent Technologies' microarrays used for array comparative genomic hybridization services.

Quark has been a certified service provider for Agilent's gene expression microarrays since April.

The certification includes sample receipt, labeling, and the use of Agilent's CGH platform for hybridization and data analysis, Quark said in a statement.


Galapagos Inks Huntington's Disease Research Deal with High Q Foundation

Galapagos said last week that it has signed a two-year target-discovery agreement with the High Q Foundation, a non-profit organization that supports Huntington's disease research.

High Q and Galadeno, Galapagos' partnering unit, will use Galapagos' adenoviral siRNA and cDNA collections to discover and validate drug targets for the development of new Huntington's disease therapies.

Galapagos said that it could ultimately receive up to $3 million from the High Q Foundation for the project. The company also has the option to develop certain targets identified in the program.

Galapagos said that the final agreement with High Q has not yet been signed, but that it expects to do so before Oct. 1.

The company signed a similar agreement with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation in April (see RNAi News, 4/15/2005).

The Scan

Germline-Targeting HIV Vaccine Shows Promise in Phase I Trial

A National Institutes of Health-led team reports in Science that a broadly neutralizing antibody HIV vaccine induced bnAb precursors in 97 percent of those given the vaccine.

Study Uncovers Genetic Mutation in Childhood Glaucoma

A study in the Journal of Clinical Investigation ties a heterozygous missense variant in thrombospondin 1 to childhood glaucoma.

Gene Co-Expression Database for Humans, Model Organisms Gets Update

GeneFriends has been updated to include gene and transcript co-expression networks based on RNA-seq data from 46,475 human and 34,322 mouse samples, a new paper in Nucleic Acids Research says.

New Study Investigates Genomics of Fanconi Anemia Repair Pathway in Cancer

A Rockefeller University team reports in Nature that FA repair deficiency leads to structural variants that can contribute to genomic instability.