Friday, September 7, 2007

Alnylam to explore micro-RNAs in joint venture

The New York Times reports on a new joint venture involving Cambridge's Alnylam Pharmaceuticals and ISIS Pharmaceuticals of California, which will explore the therapeutic potential of micro-RNAs. Andrew Pollack writes:

    Micro-RNAs, virtually unheard of a few years ago, are tiny snippets of RNA — the chemical cousin of the genetic material DNA — that have been found to play a major role in controlling biological processes. Scientists have identified about 500 different micro-RNAs that are made by human cells, and these snippets in turn appear to influence the activity of thousands of genes.

    Studies have already linked micro-RNAs to cancer, viral infections, immune disorders and other diseases. So blocking specific micro-RNAs — or perhaps stimulating them — could theoretically provide a powerful way to treat diseases.

    ...The new company, called Regulus Therapeutics, will be equally owned by Isis and Alnylam but will have its own management and board.

Regulus, according to the press release, will be based in Carlsbad, California.

And here's a bit of astronomical trivia: Alnilam (with an "i") is the name of the middle star in Orion's belt. Regulus is the brightest star in the constellation Leo.

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