RNA specialist Dharmacon has entered into a collaboration with Abbott Laboratories to develop a short-interfering RNA (siRNA) library covering 4,000 genes to identify potential drug targets in Abbott's key therapeutic areas.
The resulting siRNA library will enable high-throughput functional genomic studies designed to identify and validate drug targets, and will cover genes that are believed to be important in cancer, diabetes, pain management, inflammation and neurological disorders.
Dharmacon retains rights to the siRNAs developed under this agreement and, as they are developed, the sequences will be made commercially available to other Dharmacon customers. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
RNA-interference (RNAi) for drug target identification and validation works by using siRNA sequences to turn-off, or silence, the expression of specific genes targeted for study and then assessing the impact on a cell or an entire organism.
"RNAi enables researchers to conduct studies on gene expression inhibition faster, more easily and more cost effectively than conventional methods,", according to Dharmacon.
Abbott said that it selected Dharmacon as its partner because "their approach of direct chemical synthesis provides a highly effective and cost-efficient method for building a large collection of siRNAs," said Stephen Fesik, vice president of cancer research at the multinational.
Dharmacon's technology uses proprietary algorithms to select appropriate siRNA sequences for each application, eliminating the need for time-consuming trial and error studies, and then pooling four candidates for guaranteed gene silencing.
"Our SMART technologies eliminate many of the bottlenecks associated with RNAi research because we use single reagents and routinely achieve unparalleled levels of gene silencing with a very high probability of success," claimed Stephen Scaringe, the firm's chief scientific officer.