Cold Spring Harbor Lab, Pfizer partner on cancer therapy research

Collaborators aim to create next-generation short-hairpin RNA library

Jim Cirigliano
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COLD SPRING HARBOR, N.Y.—A recently announced collaborativeproject between Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) and Pfizer Inc. aims todevelop a next-generation library of human short-hairpin RNA (shRNA) forbiomedical research, with the hopes of identifying and validating drug targetsand speeding development of new cancer therapies.
"CSHL is pleased to partner with Pfizer to create a shRNAtechnology platform that could speed the validation of drug targets and opendoors to new therapeutic options in a range of cancers," said CSHL PresidentDr. Bruce Stillman in the press release announcing the partnership with Pfizer.
The focus of this collaboration will be on cataloguing shRNAand a process known as RNA interference, which is a naturally occurringtechnology within the body that activates or deactivates various genes.
CSHL professor Dr. Greg Hannon pioneered shRNA collectionsbeginning with the comprehensive first-generation synthetic shRNA library hedeveloped in 2004, which enables users in industry and academia to identify andvalidate target genes involved in a variety of diseases. 
Researchers are learning to manipulate RNA interference inorder to purposefully turn genes on or off. Synthetic shRNA molecules have alreadybeen used to silence the expression of many genes in rats, mice and humans.This has numerous applications in the race to discover new treatment optionsfor many cancers. Creating a more robust next-generation library of shRNAmolecules promises to be an important step toward identifying targets forsilencing gene expression and validating drug targets in a broad range ofcancers.
The library of information generated by this study isexpected to be made available both to the academic community and the commercialworld.
This collaboration combines CSHL's academic researchingcapabilities and expertise with Pfizer's size and market clout. Both partnerssee tremendous benefits to collaborating on a large-scale project such as this.
"Pfizer is pleased to be involved in this partnership, whichwill marry cutting-edge shRNA technologies with our efforts in cancer geneticsand complex tumor models toward the singular goal of identifying and validatingnovel targets for cancer therapeutics," Pfizer's oncology chief scientificofficer, Bob Abraham, said in a news release.
CSHL is a private, non-profit research and educationinstitution devoted to molecular biology, with applications in geneticdisorders, neurological disorders and cancer. It is ranked no. 1 in the worldby Thomson Reuters for impact of its research in molecular biology andgenetics. CSHL has been home to eight Nobel Prize winners. Cancer research atCSHL focuses on understanding cancer cells and cancer processes at the cellularlevel.
To date, Pfizer's cancer and chemotherapy pharmaceuticalproducts include Camptosar, Ellence and Sutent.

CHSL opens newscientific training facility
COLD SPRING HARBOR, N.Y.—On June 8, Cold Spring HarborLaboratory (CSHL) rededicated the newly completed Alfred D. Hershey Building,an 18,000 square-foot teaching and technical resource center named for the lateDr. Alfred Hershey, a Nobel laureate and CSHL scientist. The new trainingcenter was made possible by a $15 million grant provided in 2008 by the HowardHughes Medical Institute (HHMI).
The redesigned building replaces the original HersheyBuilding, which was erected in 1979, houses a flow cytometry laboratory and amicroscopy facility that provides an array of microscope imaging services suchas fluorescence, super-resolution and electron microscopy, as well as 3-Drendering and image analysis.
The new facility will allow for a 25-percent increase incourse offerings and participants, including a number of new courses in computationalapproaches to biological questions.
CSHL's Meetings & Courses program attracts about 10,000scientists from around the world each year, as well as more than 8500scientists for scientific meetings and more than 1300 scientists for technicalcourses.

Jim Cirigliano

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