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GE Healthcare and The RNA Institute Partner to Create Novel RNAs for the Medical Industry

A model of an RNA strand synthesizing into protein.

ALBANY, N.Y. (August 3, 2015) — The RNA Institute at the University at Albany and GE Healthcare are partnering to develop specially engineered ribonucleic acids (RNAs) as tools in the study of RNA as a target for new drugs. Such innovative therapeutics could be utilized potentially to address the most difficult cancers, neurodegenerative and infectious diseases plaguing society.

Under the agreement, Dr. Paul F. Agris, The RNA Institute’s director and the co-principal investigator on the project, will provide Dharmacon, a division of GE Healthcare, specially designed components for synthesizing RNAs. RNA controls which of our genes in each of our cells are turned on, off, and the degree to which they are turned on.

“Currently, there are only some 3,500 human proteins as targets for drugs; primarily, abnormal proteins are targeted,” said Agris. “Thus, with all of the pharmaceuticals available, we are beginning to saturate our possibilities for protein targets. However, by focusing on RNA research, we can utilize the 100,000 RNAs in control of when, and in what amounts these proteins are produced. This offers us a wealth of new targets, as well as an opportunity to utilize the RNA itself as a therapeutic.”

Using these components, GE Healthcare will produce RNAs with modified chemistries never previously achieved. GE Healthcare will then provide these specially engineered RNAs to the Institute for applications in cell and molecular biology for basic science and medicine.

There are many RNA-based therapeutics in clinical trials for cancers, infectious diseases, macular degeneration and other ophthalmologic diseases, renal failure and diabetes. The RNA Institute brings a special knowledge to how engineered RNAs will be more effective, stable, have a lasting effect, and can be visualized and monitored.

“We look forward to working with Dr. Agris and The RNA Institute to provide our RNA synthesis expertise to advance science,” says Dr. Anja Smith, Director of R&D, GE Healthcare.

Licensing agreements may be negotiated between Dharmacon and the Institute for any RNAs of commercial value as a tool or therapeutic. Dharmacon scientists and RNA researchers will co-author any research papers that extend the knowledge resource out to the medical and scientific community.

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