Mirus Bio Corporation has announced that it has been awarded a Phase II SBIR Grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences to optimize and extend its microRNA labeling technology for clinical research and potential diagnostic applications.
MicroRNA (miRNA) species regulate important cellular processes and have been associated with the development of disease. The grant is for two years with total funding of $900,000. The award will support collaborative research between researchers at Mirus Bio and Gregory J. Tsongalis, Ph.D., Director, Molecular Pathology at the Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, NH.
MicroRNAs are the most recently discovered component of a natural cellular process known as RNA interference (RNAi) that regulates the translation of RNA into proteins. Translation is important for the proper functioning of cells including development and response to physiologic changes.
Current studies suggest that different miRNAs may be involved in the onset of human diseases such as cancer. In order to define the specific role of miRNAs researchers require analytical tools that are accurate, reproducible and suitable for use in a routine laboratory environment.
Mirus Bio currently markets Label IT® miRNA Labeling Kits to detect all miRNAs by microarray analysis. Other labeling methods may not detect all of the miRNAs present in a sample; hence researchers might miss identifying the specific miRNAs that are critical to development of a disease.
This grant will enable Mirus Bio to develop an expanded range of products that will both support research into the link between miRNAs and disease as well as ultimately enable diagnostic testing for miRNAs as biomarkers for disease.
The basis for the grant was work performed by Mary-Anne Watt, Ph.D. and her research team at Mirus Bio which showed that certain common miRNA labeling methods do not detect all of the miRNA species present in a sample.
The grant will allow Drs. Watt and Tsongalis to further validate and expand this research into the development of new analytical tools for use by researchers and support the identification of clinically significant miRNA species in research and ultimately as diagnostic tests. New products developed through research supported by this grant will also be marketed by Mirus Bio.
“We are particularly excited about the possibilities being created by combining Dr. Tsongalis’ clinical expertise with the technology created at Mirus Bio. This federal award provides the funding to accelerate the development of validated tools that will support accurate research and diagnostic testing of miRNAs,” commented Richard Schifreen, Vice President of Research Products for Mirus Bio.