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New RNA Interference Libraries from Sigma-Aldrich Provide The RNA Institute with Unique Capabilities to Identify Novel Disease Targets

Dr. Paul F. Agris, director of The RNA Institute (Photo by Mark Schmidt)

ALBANY, N.Y. (December 17, 2012) – One of the world's leading life science and high technology companies, St. Louis, Mo.-based Sigma-Aldrich, has gifted to The RNA Institute of the University at Albany extensive collections of RNA molecules that will allow researchers to  target genes of high therapeutic value and identify disease-causing proteins.

The Sigma-Aldrich gift also provides funds to conduct three RNA symposia and workshops at UAlbany over the next three years. The symposia will bring together leading researchers from around the world to discuss state-of-the-art scientific and technological innovations in RNA science. The gift in total is valued at more than $400,000.

The RNA collections consist of libraries containing several hundred thousand molecules of several types of small RNAs, some for humans and others for mice. UAlbany researchers can apply these diverse libraries to manipulate and study the expression and regulation of individual genes covering the human and mouse genomes.

“The libraries from Sigma-Aldrich will give our researchers the capability to inspect a normal cell versus a diseased cell, such as a cancer cell or one with neurodegenerative disease. In turn, allowing our scientists to determine which proteins are being produced in a diseased versus a normal state providing clues for early phase drug discovery,” said Dr. Paul F. Agris, The RNA Institute's director.

The RNA Institute and Sigma-Aldrich representatives meet
Dr. Paul Agris, director of The RNA Institute, sits with Sigma-Aldrich representatives Supriya Shivakumar, director of emerging technologies with Sigma Life Science, and Josef Zihlmann, VP of business development and marketing, at announcement of gift to Institute of collections of RNA molecules. (Photo by Paul Miller)

He also noted that RNA libraries such as those being donated to UAlbany are so valuable that typically only large pharmaceutical corporations can afford them. Major pharmaceutical companies use Sigma’s libraries to conduct high throughput screens relating to certain classes of genes as well as the entire drug-able genome.

“It is in Sigma-Aldrich's interest in this case to see the Institute's researchers discover novel uses of these RNAs and develop unique targets for disease intervention,” said Agris.

Launched in June 2010, The RNA Institute brings together more than 50 investigators representing some 350 scientists from collaborating institutions including UAlbany's College of Arts and Sciences, College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering, and School of Public Health, as well as regional institutions including the New York State Department of Health Wadsworth Center, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and Albany Medical College.

The RNA Institute offers advanced facilities, including a Mass Spectrometry Center and high-end computational equipment, to support the many research projects underway. The Institute has attracted more than $14 million in research support from the state and federal governments, and private corporations. The national research resource recently launched the construction of its new state-of-the-art facility for RNA biomedical technology development and commercialization.

Learn more about The RNA Institute scientific team and the implications of its cutting-edge research for development and delivery of innovative medicines, vaccines and diagnostics.

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