The projects include studies focused on defining the mechanisms of miRNA-target interactions, uncovering the role of a specific miRNA in Caenorhabditis elegans, determining the impact of the small RNAs in brain cancer and cardiac hypertrophy.
The news wasn't a complete surprise given the general difficulties in measuring and interpreting blood-borne miRNA signatures, as well as the firm's own admission in September that "technical obstacles" had been stymieing its efforts to develop the screen.
"I've been absolutely blown away by the microRNA field and the way it's blossomed," University of Massachusetts Medical School researcher and Nobel laureate Craig Mello said. "There is just one story after another [showing that] microRNAs … are very critical to many aspects of either disease or development."
According to Nobel laureate Craig Mello, RNAi for research applications "really is very reliable and it works very well. I think where it was over-hyped is this notion that you can just give a patient RNA and expect them to get better."