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Dharmacon Research, Inc. And Akceli, Inc. Announce Research Collaboration To Combine Reverse Transfection And siRNA For High Throughput Gene Silencing

10/19/2005 5:10:09 PM

LAFAYETTE, Colo. and CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Nov. 3 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Dharmacon, Inc., the leading global supplier of innovative RNA and RNA interference (RNAi) research products, and Akceli, Inc., a cellular systems biology company, today announced a research collaboration to study the utility of combining two powerful technologies: siRNA-mediated gene silencing and whole-well reverse transfection. The combination of these technologies has the potential to advance high-throughput cell-based gene function analysis, target validation and drug discovery.

Akceli's reverse transfection technology enables a high throughput process for delivering nucleic acids to mammalian cells. This approach greatly increases the speed and simplicity with which scientists can introduce foreign nucleic acids into cells and analyze the subsequent cellular effects. Dharmacon uses SMARTselection(TM) and SMARTpool(R) technologies to produce synthetic siRNA reagents guaranteed to silence target genes with a high degree of potency and specificity. Together, these powerful technologies promise to accelerate the analysis of gene function, cellular pathways and networks.

"Akceli's technology simplifies and accelerates the transfection of nucleic acids enabling a higher throughput approach to cell-based studies," said Stephen A. Scaringe, Dharmacon's co-chairman and chief scientific officer. "Our combined technologies have the potential to significantly expand the utility of siRNA-mediated gene silencing in functional genomics and drug discovery research. In addition, the collaboration will enable siRNA potency, specificity and cross-reactivity to be assessed across a wide variety of gene targets, allowing us to further refine our SMARTselection design algorithms."

Under terms of the agreement, Dharmacon will supply specified siRNA reagents developed with its SMARTselection and SMARTpool technologies and Akceli will provide reverse transfection materials and carry out the experiments. The results of the studies conducted using the combined technologies will be used to validate both the efficacy of whole-well siRNA reverse transfection and its utility for transfection optimization. Dharmacon's siRNA will also be used to validate Akceli's cancer-related siRNA sequences and cell-based assays.

"Dharmacon's SMART technologies reliably deliver highly functional siRNA, so we can focus our attention on optimizing our reverse transfection technology rather than worrying about siRNA design and functionality," said David M. Chao, Ph.D., president and co-founder of Akceli. "Combining Dharmacon's siRNA reagents with Akceli's reverse transfection technology should enable us to provide a high throughput format for the analysis of siRNA-mediated gene silencing." Dharmacon will use the information obtained from the collaboration to further enhance its expertise in designing siRNA reagents that are potent and specific, and Akceli will use the results of the collaboration to advance development of its reverse transfection methodologies. The companies also hope to develop improved methods and products for transfection optimization.

Akceli and Dharmacon to present at IBC RNAi Conference

Brent Kreider, Ph.D., Akceli senior vice president of technology will be presenting November 3 and Stephen Scaringe, Ph.D., Dharmacon co-chairman and CSO will be presenting November 4 at the "IBC RNAi Conference in Boston."

About Reverse Transfection

Akceli's proprietary technology platform extends upon a routine laboratory technique called transfection. Transfection involves the introduction of foreign nucleic acids (e.g. siRNA or DNA) into a cell to study their effect on cellular networks and pathways. In conventional transfection, scientists add a solution containing siRNA or DNA and a transfection reagent onto cells growing in a petri dish or small vessel known as a microwell, and the foreign nucleic acids are subsequently taken up by the cell. Akceli's patent-pending reverse transfection technology uses a microwell surface coated with foreign siRNA or DNA and adds cells to the coated surface rather than vice versa. This reduces the time, labor and amount of expensive reagents required for experiments and greatly increases the number of targets that can be examined.

About Dharmacon

Dharmacon, Inc. is the world's leading provider of innovative RNA, small interfering RNA (siRNA) and related RNA-interference (RNAi) products and technologies to the life sciences industry. Founded in 1995, Dharmacon discovered and commercialized 2'-ACE(R), a novel, highly productive chemical strategy for RNA synthesis. Using its core expertise in chemistry, biology, bioinformatics and production, Dharmacon has pioneered a custom siRNA design service that employs its proprietary SMARTselection(TM) algorithms for maximizing the efficiency of gene silencing, a powerful and increasingly widely-used new technology based on siRNA. The company provides the most reliable and highest quality RNA oligonucleotides and other custom RNA modification options that leverage Dharmacon's proprietary chemistries. Dharmacon is based in Lafayette, Colorado. For more information, visit the company's Web site at .

About Akceli

Akceli is a cellular systems biology company using a transfected cell microarray technology to accelerate the drug discovery process. Akceli's patent pending technology -- reverse transfection -- is a broad and powerful new platform for understanding cellular pathways and networks. Made via reverse transfection, Akceli's transfected cell microarrays provide insights into the function of genes, proteins and compounds across the entire human genome and enable significant productivity gains throughout the drug discovery and development process. Key applications of the technology include selectivity testing of lead compounds on a genome-wide scale and high throughput screening with 100 or more targets in parallel. Founded in 2001 by a team of scientists from MIT's Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, Akceli is backed by leading venture capital firms Atlas Venture and Apple Tree Partners. Akceli is headquartered in Medford, Mass. Additional information about Akceli can be found at .

For further information, please contact: Michael Deines of Dharmacon, +1-303-604-9499; or David M. Chao, Ph.D. of Akceli, +1-781-628-1300; or Media, Stephen Gendel of GendeLLindheim BioCom Partners, +1-212-918-4650.

Dharmacon, Inc.; Akceli, Inc.

CONTACT: Michael Deines of Dharmacon, +1-303-604-9499; or David M. Chao,Ph.D. of Akceli, +1-781-628-1300; or Media, Stephen Gendel of GendeLLindheimBioCom Partners, +1-212-918-4650

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