Cellecta, Inc. Receives Phase II NIH SBIR Grant to Screen for Potential Breast Cancer Drug Targets

Mountain View, California (EastBayDaily) — Cellecta, Inc., a biotechnology contract services provider that specializes in genetic screening to identify novel therapeutic targets, has been awarded a two-year $1.8M Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant to discover and validate as potential therapeutic targets genes regulating breast carcinogenesis.

The grant, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), will enable Cellecta to utilize shRNA gene suppressor libraries, developed with Phase I funding, for genome-wide screening and identification of genes that are required to maintain cell growth and viability in a unique panel of human isogenic mammary epithelial cells (HMEC cells). Suppression of the genes identified in this viability assay screen causes the cancer cells to die, and hence, they are good candidates for the development of novel classes of anticancer therapeutics. In collaboration with Peiqing Sun’s laboratory at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, who developed the HMEC cell panel, candidate drug targets will be further validated in mice models.

“We are very glad to receive these resources to pursue this study.” stated Cellecta President & CEO Dr. Alex Chenchik. “Cellecta was established expressly for the purposes of advancing drug discovery through studies and collaborations such as this one, and we are thrilled to apply our uniquely designed lentiviral-based pooled shRNA libraries for large-scale screening to pursue new cancer therapeutics.”

This current project is part of a series of studies and collaborations Cellecta is pursing to develop a standardized reference database of gene functional activities and therapeutic molecular targets based on RNAi library screening.

About Cellecta, Inc.

Cellecta is a privately owned contract research company that provides high-throughput (HT) RNAi-based genetic screening services for the discovery and functional characterization of novel therapeutic targets. Using their unique platform of lentiviral, shRNA, HT sequencing, and bioinformatics technologies, they offer shRNA library screening and analysis by HT sequencing, pooled lentiviral shRNA libraries, and stable reporter, overexpression, or knockdown cell lines. Cellecta’s scientists have developed some of the most advanced technologies available, developed in collaboration with opinion leaders and with funding from eleven NIH SBIR grants. For more information, visit the Cellecta website.

About The Scripps Research Institute

The Scripps Research Institute, one of the country’s largest, private, non-profit research organizations, has always stood at the forefront of basic biomedical science, a vital segment of medical research that seeks to comprehend the most fundamental processes of life. In just three decades the Institute has established a lengthy track record of major contributions to the betterment of health and the human condition. The Institute has become internationally recognized for its basic research into immunology, molecular and cellular biology, chemistry, neurosciences, autoimmune diseases, cardiovascular diseases, virology and synthetic vaccine development. Particularly significant is the Institute’s study of the basic structure and design of biological molecules; in this arena TSRI is among a handful of the world’s leading centers.


Paul Diehl, Ph.D
Cellecta, Inc.