bachanon Posted January 13, 2005 Share Posted January 13, 2005 U.S. grants Lexicon $1.9 million for antiterrorism research By: BURTON SPEAKMAN, Villager staff 01/05/2005 Lexicon Genetics Incorporated (Nasdaq: LEXG) was awarded a $1.9 million grant for the discovery of drug targets that could provide resistance to ricin poisoning from the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases for a one-year initial term. "Lexicon's proprietary gene knockout technology, coupled with our comprehensive system for analyzing the physiological effects of genes in mammals, can provide the Army with important information in its effort to combat the harmful effects of bioterrorism and biological warfare agents," said Arthur T. Sands, M.D., Ph.D., company president and chief executive officer. According to the Centers for Disease Control, ricin is a water-soluble poison made from the waste produced during the processing of the castor bean and can be produced in pellet, powder or mist form. The goal of the program is to ultimately identify target agents and to develop protective drugs, Sands said. Lexicon will complete the testing for 250 genes within the term the grant. Genes will be tested to evaluate their potential to block the body's reaction to ricin, he said. This technology does not work in the same manner as current treatments for either diseases or poisons. Current treatments work to eliminate toxins or infections from the body, Sands said. Drugs developed through this gene therapy will keep the toxin or infection from reacting with the agent it uses to damage the body. "Any agent - whether it be a poison or a virus - must use an agent to interact with the body," he said. Currently it is unclear what kind of reaction ricin produces that infects the body. Another advantage to gene treatment is that toxins and diseases can mutate, making current treatments invalid, Sands said. This would not be the case for drugs that affect the target agent. "Genes within the human body don't mutate," he said. "This could be the beginning of a whole new class of therapy." "We believe the methods we will be using to find host factors for ricin resistance could have broader applications for other toxins or infectious agents," Sands said. This is one of the initial steps that could bring the new therapeutic treatments to wider use, he added. The grant from the U.S. Army is the first grant that Lexicon Genetics has ever received, Sands said. Burton Speakman may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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