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Dutch firm InteRNA Technologies and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute collaborate on the role of microRNAs in cancer pathways

Lori Lesko
UTRECHT, the Netherlands—Cancer-fighting Dutch firm InteRNATechnologies BV has partnered with the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute of Bostonby entering into a research agreement to develop microRNA (miRNA)-basedtherapeutics for cancer patients. The financial arrangement between the twocompanies was not disclosed.

 

Under the research collaboration with Associate ProfessorDr. William C. Hahn of the Department of Medical Oncology, InteRNA's uniquelentiviral-based miRNA overexpression library will be applied inmulti-parametric, high-throughput functional screening assays to identify thebiological role of individual miRNAs and novel therapeutic targets in diversecancer pathways. 

 

"We are very excited about this collaboration with Dr. Hahn,a renowned cancer investigator, and the Dana-Farber, as it allows forfunctional screens in diverse cell-based assays embedded in a lab withextensive knowledge of cancer," says Roel

Schaapveld, CEO of InteRNA Technologies.

 

The partnership between the Dutch and U.S. facilities provesto be a painstaking process.
 

"We approached Dana-Farber to jointly work on functionalscreens with our miRNA overexpression library (lentiviral-based) to identifythe biological role in cancer for each individual miRNA in the library,"Schaapveld says.

 

Schaapveld was reluctant to discuss the nuts and bolts ofthe research or specific process, and he declined to break down its miRNAtechnology or shed light on the roles assigned to each partner.

 

Hahn says that InteRNA's "functional screens hold greatpromise to help us better understand the roles of miRNAs in cancer and toidentify potential treatment targets.

 

"Under this sponsored research agreement, Dana-Farber willinvestigate a microRNA expression library provided by the company, with an aimto validate potential microRNA targets," Hahn says.

 

The agreement specifies that Dana-Farber will own theinventions its faculty develops, and InteRNA will own the inventions itsemployees develop. Joint inventions will be jointly owned. The collaborativeagreement includes an option for InteRNA to negotiate a license toDana-Farber's interests in the inventions.

 

InteRNA Technologies actively explores and exploitsopportunities to translate its collection of miRNAs and miRNA discovery andvalidation technologies into successful diagnostic, prognostic and therapeuticapplications. The company's primary focus is to unravel the role of itsproprietary miRNAs in cancer.

 

InteRNA Technologies was incorporated in 2006 by AglaiaOncology Fund and has established close relationships with the research groupsof its founders Dr. Edwin Cuppen, and Dr. Eugene Berezikov of the HubrechtInstitute, also located in Utrecht and a leading scientific group in the fieldof miRNA research.

 

Since its founding in 1947, Dana-Farber has been committed to providingcancer patients with the best treatment available today while developingtomorrow's cures through cutting-edge research, according to the institute'sWeb site. Dana-Farber's mission is to provide expert, compassionate care tochildren and adults with cancer while advancing the understanding, diagnosis,treatment, cure, and prevention of cancer and related diseases. Recognizingthat the opportunity to conquer cancer is within reach, the Dana-Farber CancerInstitute has launched a $1 billion comprehensive capital campaign—the largestand most ambitious fundraising campaign in its history, the institute states. 

Lori Lesko

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