Rosetta Genomics has announced that it has signed a collaboration agreement with Ben Gurion University, through B.G Negev Technologies, focusing on the development of microRNA-based therapeutic applications for several key viruses including the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and Herpes Simplex Viruses (HSV).
The central role microRNAs and RNAi play in a wide range of cellular processes, as well as the link between their aberrant expression and the onset and progression of various viral diseases, point to microRNAs' potential as novel drug targets.
A combined research team from Rosetta Genomics and of Ben Gurion University led by Dr. Yonat Shemer, Head of the Clinical Virology Unit at Ben Gurion University, identified several virus-specific microRNAs that, when inhibited, led to a decrease in virus replication in vitro.
"Rosetta Genomics is the first entity to identify microRNAs in viruses, and has discovered and validated a large number of viral microRNAs that can be the basis for novel therapeutics" said Professor Zvi Bentwich, Rosetta Genomics' Chief Scientist and a world-renowned AIDS researcher.
"Because some viruses encode microRNAs, we believe the silencing of a viral microRNA may form the basis for a new class of drugs to treat infectious diseases. We have discovered microRNAs encoded in Epstein-Barr virus and have proven their expression in EBV-infected cell lines. As proof of concept, we have demonstrated in vitro that the inhibition of these EBV microRNAs inhibits viral replication," Bentwich added.