SomaGenics Announces Issue of Key Patent for Its sshRNA Technology and Receipt of Two New Small Business Innovation NIH Grants
SANTA CRUZ, Calif., Nov. 12, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — SomaGenics, Inc., a biotechnology company specializing in RNA-based technologies, has been awarded US Patent No. 8,283,460 for key aspects of the company’s sshRNA therapeutic platform. sshRNAs are small synthetic stem-loop (or hairpin) RNAs that the company’s researchers have shown to be highly potent in knocking down target RNAs through an RNA interference (RNAi) mechanism. SomaGenics’ lead therapeutic program targets hepatitis C, and a number of sshRNAs directed at the hepatitis C virus are covered by the new patent. ‘This patent, following on the award of US Patent 7,902,351 in 2011, represents another significant milestone in securing comprehensive patent protection for our sshRNA technology,” commented SomaGenics CEO Brian Johnston.
SomaGenics also announced the receipt of two Small Business Innovation Grants from the National Institutes of Health totaling $647,000. One, from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, is entitled Accelerating Wound Healing Using RNAi and aims to speed healing of the hard-to-heal wounds that can particularly plague diabetics. Dr. Sumedha Jayasena, VP of Therapeutic Development at SomaGenics, is principal investigator.
A second grant, awarded by the National Cancer Institute, is entitled A Novel Method for Quantitation of Fragmented mRNAs. Its goal is to develop a new approach to analyzing gene expression from formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissue specimens. Large repositories of FFPE specimens, each with pathologist interpretation and clinical records, are available at many medical institutions. The ability to determine gene expression profiles for each specimen could make these archives a rich resource for discovering mRNA biomarkers of disease. Although RT-qPCR is the preferred method for quantitative analysis of gene expression, its sensitivity and robustness are significantly reduced with FFPE samples due to the degradation of mRNAs that occurs during specimen preparation and storage. SomaGenics’ mR-FQ RT-qPCR approach should overcome these problems because, unlike standard PCR methods, it is unaffected by fragmentation; indeed, it explicitly makes use of it. The principal investigator for this grant is Dr. Sergei Kazakov, VP of Discovery Research at SomaGenics.
The new awards bring SomaGenics’ total grant funding to well over $18 million and allow the company to develop new applications for its technologies.
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SOURCE SomaGenics, Inc.