Omicia and Johns Hopkins Receive Small Business Technology Transfer Grant from NIH
News Aug 17, 2007
Omicia, Inc. has been awarded its fourth NIH grant, a $182,732 Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Phase I grant from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health.
This industry/academia collaboration between Omicia and Johns Hopkins University (JHU) will be headed by Principal Investigator Dr. Joel Bader, an Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering at JHU.
Drawing upon Omicias advanced understanding of disease genes and phenotypes and Dr. Baders expertise in gene interaction networks and model organism genetics, the project will identify genes whose variants increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
Dr. Bader and Omicia aim to elucidate the genetic risk factors for cardiovascular disease in humans by drawing parallels from systematic genetic screens performed on fruit flies and other model organisms.
The goal of these screens is to determine phenotypes (observable physical characteristics) for every relevant gene in each of the targeted model organisms. In this funded collaboration, data mining algorithms will be developed to select sets of genes, or modules, that give rise to similar phenotypes across the range of model organisms. These conserved modules are likely to play significant roles in human health and disease.
"This project will give us the opportunity to apply the latest findings in genetic research to the challenging problem of figuring out the molecular causes of complex diseases," said Dr. Bader, who is an inventor on the patent for the new high-speed 454 DNA sequencing technology that was recently used to completely sequence the first individual human genome.
"By combining our research group's experience in analyzing gene interactions with Omicia's cutting-edge gene selection infrastructure, we aim to significantly advance the understanding of the genetic basis of cardiovascular disease, paving the way towards the earliest possible diagnosis and the most appropriate therapeutic options."
As genome editing technologies advance toward clinical therapies, they are raising hopes of a completely new way to treat disease. However, challenges need to be addressed before potential treatments can be widely used in patients. To tackle these challenges, the National Institutes of Health has launched the Somatic Cell Genome Editing program, which has awarded multiple grants including more than $3.6 million to assess the safety of genome editing in human cells and tissues.