Cold Spring Harbor Lab, Pfizer partner on cancer therapy research
August 2012
by Jim Cirigliano  |  Email the author


COLD SPRING HARBOR, N.Y.—A recently announced collaborative project between Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) and Pfizer Inc. aims to develop a next-generation library of human short-hairpin RNA (shRNA) for biomedical research, with the hopes of identifying and validating drug targets and speeding development of new cancer therapies.  
"CSHL is pleased to partner with Pfizer to create a shRNA technology platform that could speed the validation of drug targets and open doors to new therapeutic options in a range of cancers," said CSHL President Dr. Bruce Stillman in the press release announcing the partnership with Pfizer.  
The focus of this collaboration will be on cataloguing shRNA and a process known as RNA interference, which is a naturally occurring technology within the body that activates or deactivates various genes.   CSHL professor Dr. Greg Hannon pioneered shRNA collections beginning with the comprehensive first-generation synthetic shRNA library he developed in 2004, which enables users in industry and academia to identify and validate target genes involved in a variety of diseases.   
Researchers are learning to manipulate RNA interference in order to purposefully turn genes on or off. Synthetic shRNA molecules have already been used to silence the expression of many genes in rats, mice and humans. This has numerous applications in the race to discover new treatment options for many cancers. Creating a more robust next-generation library of shRNA molecules promises to be an important step toward identifying targets for silencing gene expression and validating drug targets in a broad range of cancers.  
The library of information generated by this study is expected to be made available both to the academic community and the commercial world.
This collaboration combines CSHL's academic researching capabilities and expertise with Pfizer's size and market clout. Both partners see tremendous benefits to collaborating on a large-scale project such as this.  
"Pfizer is pleased to be involved in this partnership, which will marry cutting-edge shRNA technologies with our efforts in cancer genetics and complex tumor models toward the singular goal of identifying and validating novel targets for cancer therapeutics," Pfizer's oncology chief scientific officer, Bob Abraham, said in a news release.  
CSHL is a private, non-profit research and education institution devoted to molecular biology, with applications in genetic disorders, neurological disorders and cancer. It is ranked no. 1 in the world by Thomson Reuters for impact of its research in molecular biology and genetics. CSHL has been home to eight Nobel Prize winners. Cancer research at CSHL focuses on understanding cancer cells and cancer processes at the cellular level.  
To date, Pfizer's cancer and chemotherapy pharmaceutical products include Camptosar, Ellence and Sutent.  

CHSL opens new scientific training facility  
COLD SPRING HARBOR, N.Y.—On June 8, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) rededicated the newly completed Alfred D. Hershey Building, an 18,000 square-foot teaching and technical resource center named for the late Dr. Alfred Hershey, a Nobel laureate and CSHL scientist. The new training center was made possible by a $15 million grant provided in 2008 by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI).  
The redesigned building replaces the original Hershey Building, which was erected in 1979, houses a flow cytometry laboratory and a microscopy facility that provides an array of microscope imaging services such as fluorescence, super-resolution and electron microscopy, as well as 3-D rendering and image analysis.  
The new facility will allow for a 25-percent increase in course offerings and participants, including a number of new courses in computational approaches to biological questions. CSHL's Meetings & Courses program attracts about 10,000 scientists from around the world each year, as well as more than 8500 scientists for scientific meetings and more than 1300 scientists for technical courses.  
Code: E081219

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