Yale participates in global human genome initiative

October 07, 2005

New Haven, Conn. -- Yale is a founding member of the Genome-Wide RNAi Global Initiative, an alliance of top international biomedical research centers formed to speed scientific and medical discoveries that target genes of the entire human genome. The initiative is sponsored by Dharmacon, Inc., manufacturer of the first complete human genome siRNA library, or compilation of short, interfering ribonucleic acid sequences. The library is designed to determine when individual genes are functioning. It uses a format that is accessible to researchers for detailed analysis of individual genes, gene families and metabolic pathways.

The siRNA sequences have blueprints in DNA and are transcribed, but not translated into proteins. Researchers have recently found that several siRNAs regulate critical gene functions in normal development and in development of cancer.

"Participation in this consortium gives us a cutting-edge technology to systematically screen the human genome using cell-based models of human diseases," said Kevin P. White, associate professor of genetics, ecology and evolutionary biology and the lead investigator for Yale.

The library will be available to the Yale University research community and will be used to screen for human gene functions. "Coupling Yale's expertise in the molecular basis of human disease with access to this siRNA library has a tremendous potential for discoveries that will lead to better diagnostic and therapeutic solutions for a wide variety of diseases, including most forms of cancer," said White.

Founding members of the Global Initiative have a broad spectrum of biomedical research interests that will provide a forum for sharing research protocols, establishing experimental standards and developing ways to exchange and compare data. The continued interaction is expected to help optimize rapid, genome-wide screening and accelerate drug discovery.

The other Global Initiative founding member institutions are the Campbell Family Institute for Breast Cancer Research at Princess Margaret Hospital and the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute at Mount Sinai Hospital in collaboration with the University of Toronto; the Cancer Research UK (CRUK)-funded scientists at the London Research Institute and the Institute of Cancer Research; the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ); the University of Nebraska Medical School; the Netherlands Cancer Institute; the Scottish Centre for Genomic Technology and Informatics based at the University of Edinburgh Medical School and University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

The membership of the Global Initiative is expected to expand further as additional not-for-profit research institutions from North America, Europe and Asia join in the coming months. Its first meeting will take place in Boston on October 17-18, 2005.
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Yale University

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