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Sigma-Aldrich to Develop Parkinson's Models

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Sigma-Aldrich plans to develop preclinical research models of Parkinson's disease through a research grant from the Michael J. Fox Foundation, the foundation said today.

Sigma Advanced Genetic Engineering (SAGE) will use zinc finger nuclease technology to develop preclinical research models that after around one year of development time it plans to make available to the Parkinson's research community.

Current mammalian models are not able to accurately mimic the onset and progression of the disease, but five genes have been identified as having "strong" links to Parkinson's, the foundation said.

SAGE labs will use the CompoZr ZFN technology to develop rat models in which these genes known to be directly implicated in Parkinson's — LRRK2, alpha-synuclein, DJ-1, Parkin, and PINK1 — are omitted. These rat models are expected to give researchers an opportunity to better understand the disease at the molecular, biochemical, physiological, and behavioral levels, Sigma said.

Katie Hood, CEO of The Michael J. Fox Foundation, said in a statement that "there is a critical need for new research models to more effectively screen potential new therapies, particularly neuroprotective therapies."

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