RNA institute to be unveiled at Albany school

The University at Albany is teaming with top genetic scientists and unveiling a laboratory dedicated to the study of RNA and its implications for  medicines, drug therapies and technologies, and curing disease. 

The RNA Institute will be the headquarters of a collaboration among 35 researchers, including scientists at the university, the New York State Wadsworth Center and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the Albany Times Union reports. It will serve as a resource for the research and discovery of medical interventions and diagnostics aimed at treating a range of hard-to-treat diseases, including breast cancer, drug-resistant bacterial and viral infections, HIV, depression, and neurodegenerative and neuromuscular disorders such as ALS and neurofibromatosis, according to a university statement.

"Today we're faced with some of the most severe diseases encountered by mankind, and they require a new paradigm to solve and eliminate them. RNA medicine is that paradigm," says institute director Paul Agris. "It's the mission of The RNA Institute to design, develop, and test the efficacy of RNA-based medicines, and make them accessible to the world."

The 15,000-square-foot center will be located in UAlbany's Life Sciences building. Construction of labs and offices is expected to begin by the end of the year, The Business Review reports.

Area labs already have attracted more than $12 million a year in federal and state grants related to RNA research, Agris says. And creating an institute where labs and researchers can pool resources and expertise will save money and make it easier to attract new funding, says Alain Laederach, a principal investigator at Wadsworth labs. Much of the research is expected to be funded by grants awarded to the scientists. It also could lead to the creation of new businesses. All intellectual property will be licensed and owned by the university, Agris says.

Agris had proposed a similar concept at his former university in North Carolina, but the idea was rejected, the Times Union notes.

- see the University at Albany release
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