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La Jolla Institute opens major RNAi center for identifying genetic triggers of disease
Date:8/11/2011

d as part of the NIH grant and will draw on the La Jolla Institute's immunology expertise. The projects aim to make key discoveries about how the body recognizes bacteria and viruses and fights infections. The projects also aim to understand how the immune system can sometimes hurt the body, and what genes cause these problems, which underlie the development of autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. These immune system diseases are areas for which the La Jolla Institute's scientific research is particularly renowned.

"We're going to use this great technology to make breakthroughs in biomedical research, along with making the Center, and our RNAi experts, available to the wonderful talent at our fellow San Diego research institutions," said Dr. Kronenberg, adding that a primary NIH goal in funding the Center was to boost genetic research due to its strong potential for improving human health.

RNAi has been heralded as a revolutionary technology because it opens the door to developing new therapies for cancer and other diseases based on silencing specific genes. Its discoverers were awarded the 2006 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine.

Sonia Sharma, Ph.D., the RNAi Center's scientific director, said that the type of research to be performed at the Center will enable the next great leap in the understanding of gene functions in health and disease. "The Human Genome Project, completed in 2003, gave us the genetic sequence of the 20,000 to 30,000 genes that make up the genetic blueprint of every individual," she said. "This was an enormous advance, but in some ways like receiving a book, where you can see the words on the page, but don't necessarily understand the true meaning of each word," she said.

"RNAi lets us explore the function of each gene, so that we can determine how it fits into the disease process," added Dr. Sharma. Using RNAi, researchers can shut off individua
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Contact: Bonnie Ward
contact@liai.org
619-303-3160
La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology
Source:Eurekalert

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