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Fauna Bio Awarded $229K NIH Grant for Animal Genomics-Based Drug Discovery Platform

NEW YORK — Fauna Bio said today that it has been awarded a National Institutes of Health grant worth $228,934 to develop a multi-omics drug-discovery platform based on a squirrel model of hibernation.

Berkeley, California-based Fauna aims to repurpose drugs for conditions including heart attack and stroke by translating the mechanisms that allow hibernating animals to withstand the stresses of extended sleep such as low body temperature, reduced heart rate, and lack of food.

With the Phase I Small Business Innovation Research grant, Fauna intends to incorporate sequencing data from the 13-lined ground squirrel — a model organism of hibernation — into its drug discovery platform. The company will also add publicly available genomic, transcriptomic, and proteomic data for the species, and analyze evolutionarily accelerated genes in the expanded dataset.

Fauna will then use the expanded platform to conduct pathway analyses and in silico drug screening to generate a list of drug candidates.

"The NIH is recognizing the importance of animal genomics data as critical to understanding not only what is truly functional in the human genome, but also for developing novel therapies," Carlos Bustamante, a Stanford University researcher and Fauna advisor, said in a statement. "This grant is a key step in the process of building Fauna's platform that can then extend into multiple areas of novel therapeutics."