SomaGenics Receives $2,275,000 in NIH Funding to Develop its RNAi Therapeutics and microRNA Technologies

SomaGenics LogoSANTA CRUZ, Calif., Dec. 18, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — SomaGenics has recently been awarded $2,275,000 in Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants from the NIH to further develop and expand its RNA-based technologies in the areas of wound healing, hepatitis delta virus (HDV) therapeutics, microRNA (miRNA) expression profiling, and next-generation sequencing.

SomaGenics’ wound healing program is focused on treatment of chronic wounds of diabetics. These wounds, frequently occurring on the feet, are the major reason for amputations in the diabetic population and represent a large unmet medical need. SomaGenics’ new NIH funds, in the form of a Phase II SBIR grant, will further the development of the company’s combination of therapeutic RNAs, which are designed to restore the normal wound healing process in chronic diabetic wounds.

Hepatitis delta is the most serious form of viral hepatitis and affects 15-20 million people worldwide. No specific treatment is available for HDV. SomaGenics will use its new HDV grant to advance preclinical development of synthetic small hairpin RNAs (sshRNAs) that target the viral RNAs required for the HDV replication cycle. This program expands the company’s therapeutic pipeline of sshRNAs, which SomaGenics researchers have shown in recent peer-reviewed publications to be highly potent in knocking down target RNAs through an RNA interference (RNAi) mechanism.

In addition to the awards for these therapeutic programs, SomaGenics also received two grants in support of its miRNA quantification technologies. One grant supports further development of miR-Direct,™ a novel RT-qPCR based assay for quantifying circulating extracellular miRNAs by directly assaying plasma or serum samples. miR-Direct™ eliminates the need for total RNA isolation, the most problematic and bias-prone step in currently available miRNA detection kits.

The fourth NIH award will enable development of improved miRNA sequencing libraries using SomaGenics’ miR-ACS™ technology. miR-ACS™ has the potential to eliminate miRNA sequencing bias, reduce cost and increase the throughput of NGS sequencing. The technique is applicable to the discovery and expression profiling of miRNA and other small RNAs in any type of biological sample.

SomaGenics is a privately held biotech company with offices and laboratories located in Santa Cruz, Calif. It specializes in developing innovative technologies that focus on RNA molecules as therapeutic agents and targets as well as biomarkers. Besides sshRNA, miR-Direct™, and miR-ACS™, the company’s technology platforms also include miR-ID®, a novel circularization-based RT-qPCR method for small RNA detection, and mR-FQ™, a method for quantifying fragmented RNA from formaldehyde-fixed, paraffin-embedded histology specimens.

Contact: Brian Johnston, 831 426 7700.

SOURCE SomaGenics

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