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Ontario Genomics Institute invests in validation of a novel protein interaction technology at U of T

TORONTO, ON, Nov. 1, 2012 - Every process in a cell is affected by interactions between proteins. Understanding how proteins react in the human body and their relationship to diseases is essential to the development of new and better targeted therapies. The Ontario Genomics Institute (OGI) is providing $100,000 through its Pre-commercialization Business Development Fund (PBDF) to the University of Toronto (U of T)'s Mammalian Membrane Two-Hybrid (MaMTH) project, which seeks to develop and commercialize a process to better understand membrane proteins in mammalian cells.

Dr. Igor Stagljar and his research team at U of T have developed a technology to analyze protein-protein interactions of mammalian integral membrane proteins. Membrane proteins, which make up approximately one-third of all proteins in a cell, are responsible for a variety of processes, making them attractive therapeutic targets. However, they are difficult to study because of their chemical complexity. This translational research tool will allow researchers to study interactions between membrane proteins of interest and how they respond to various therapeutic compounds in the context of the human cell.

"This tool has the potential to improve drug development and expand the resources available to companies developing new therapeutics," said Dr. Mark Poznansky, President and CEO, Ontario Genomics Institute. "Investment in projects like Dr. Stagljar's demonstrate OGI's commitment to fostering a vibrant life sciences community in Ontario."

Proteomic technologies such as MaMTH are increasingly playing key roles in the fields of medicine, drug discovery and molecular diagnostics. This tool has garnered attention from industry, who plan to license the technology if the project is successful. OGI's funding is essential for the development and validation necessary to make this assay commercially viable.

"We are pleased to receive this funding from OGI, which comes at a critical time as we commercialize our assay," said Dr. Stagljar, Professor, U of T. "There is strong demand for technologies like MaMTH from both academia and pharmaceutical companies, and this funding will enable us to make the final step in bringing this tool to market."

"The MaMTH project is a great example of an effective partnership between researchers working with their academic institution and key strategic partners, to benefit the research community and translate a technology to industry," said Ian Stewart, Senior Manager, Commercialization and Business Development, the Innovations and Partnerships Office at U of T.

OGI's PBDF program invests in opportunities based in genomics, proteomics or associated technologies that fall in the proof-of-principle (validation) phase of research and have the short-term potential to secure a significant next step towards the marketplace. Previous recipients have included Ontario universities, research institutes and companies.


Contact: Christine Beyaert
Ontario Genomics Institute

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