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Broad Institute, Oxford BioMedica, and AcroMetrix and Ambion Diagnostics


Broad Institute Unveils RNAi Consortium

The Broad Institute formally unveiled this week the RNAi Consortium, an $18 million, three-year public-private effort designed to create a library of RNAi molecules against virtually all human and mouse genes.

RNAi News first reported the creation of the consortium last April (see RNAi News, 4/9/2004).

According to the Broad Institute, the consortium includes six research institutions: Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, The Broad Institute, Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Other members include five life science organizations: Bristol-Myers Squibb, Eli Lilly, Novartis, Sigma-Aldrich, and the Taiwan government-sponsored academic Academia Sinica-National Science Council. Each of these member organizations will contribute $3.6M over three years to support the consortium, the Broad Institute stated.

“These 11 ... entities will make common cause in a unique collaborative group to create a public good: a comprehensive set of reagents to be used in thousands of laboratories,” Eric Lander, director of the Broad Institute and one of the consortium’s principal investigators, said in a statement. “In addition, the organizations will each benefit from sharing their expertise to advance the technology and to accelerate its systematic application in basic biomedical research and drug discovery.”

The members and principal investigators will work together over the three-year period to share expertise about ways to use RNAi technology to speed biomedical research, the Broad Institute said. The project also will develop efficient protocols for preparing DNA and virus stocks of the RNAi reagents and will create methods for performing high-throughput screening with the entire library.

Oxford BioMedica Reports Use of Delivery Technology with RNAi-Based ALS Treatment

Oxford BioMedica announced this week the publication of a paper in Nature Medicine demonstrating the efficacy of the company’s LentiVector technology in delivering an RNAi molecule in an animal model of familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

According to the company, the technology was used to deliver specific RNAi molecule to a selection of motor neurons in a mouse that had mutations in the SOD1 gene. These mutations are responsible for the familiar version of ALS. The paper showed that delivery was very efficient and there was a 100-percent extension of the time to onset of the disease as well as a 70-percent increase in survival, the company said.

The research was conducted by Cedric Raoul and colleagues at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland, and was published in the April issue of Nature Medicine.

AcroMetrix Inks RNA Technology Deal with Ambion Diagnostics

AcroMetrix said this week that it has signed a deal with Ambion Diagnostics to manufacture Armored RNA-based products and distribute them to in vitro diagnostic laboratories and manufacturers.

According to AcroMetrix, Armored RNA technology is a system jointly invented and developed by Ambion and Cenetron for the packaging of RNA in bacteriophage coat proteins to protect and stabilize RNA.

Under the companies’ deal, Ambion Diagnostics will supply AcroMetrix with custom products based upon the technology for further development and incorporation into calibrators, validation panels, proficiency panels, and single point controls or standards.

Additional terms were not disclosed.

The Scan

Booster for At-Risk

The New York Times reports that the US Food and Drug Administration has authorized a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech SARS-CoV-2 vaccine for people over 65 or at increased risk.

Preprints OK to Mention Again

Nature News reports the Australian Research Council has changed its new policy and now allows preprints to be cited in grant applications.

Hundreds of Millions More to Share

The US plans to purchase and donate 500 million additional SARS-CoV-2 vaccine doses, according to the Washington Post.

Nature Papers Examine Molecular Program Differences Influencing Neural Cells, Population History of Polynesia

In Nature this week: changes in molecular program during embryonic development leads to different neural cell types, and more.