Isis Pharmaceuticals' Ibis Program Receives $6 Million Grant from the CDC for Infectious Disease Surveillance

CARLSBAD, Calif. -- Isis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. has received a three-year grant for up to $6 million from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to develop and apply its diagnostic technology to the surveillance of human and animal infectious disease in the U.S. The CDC announced the award of this grant on October 3.

"Our diagnostic technology has the ability to broadly and rapidly identify infectious organisms in a complex mixture without culture techniques. This unique attribute makes the Ibis technology ideal for public health agencies interested in identifying newly emerging infectious diseases or tracking the circulation of specific strains of known organisms," said David J. Ecker, PhD, president of Ibis. "We are enthusiastic about our new relationship with the CDC, which leverages technology we developed with support from the Department of Defense for new public health applications. This collaboration with the CDC is an important next step in advancing Ibis technology towards commercialization."

In October 2001, the Defense Advance Research Projects Agency (DARPA) commissioned Ibis to design a sensor for environmental surveillance capable of detecting a biological attack. DARPA continues to fund the ongoing development of Ibis' biosensor, called "Triangulation Identification Genetic Evaluation of biological Risks" (TIGER). This research program combines Ibis' expertise in microbial genome sequence analysis and advanced mass spectrometry technology with San Diego-based Science Applications International Corporation's advanced signal processing capabilities.

Using the grant from the CDC, Ibis will develop and provide diagnostic technology for the CDC-appointed priority projects focused on human and animal emerging infectious diseases and biodefense. For example, Ibis technology could be used for the identification of newly emerging infectious agents such as the SARS coronavirus, monkeypox virus, West Nile virus or drug-resistant bacteria.

Ibis scientists have expanded on Isis' RNA-based drug discovery and development expertise in order to revolutionize the detection and treatment of infectious diseases. The program's goals are to create a sensor to detect biological agents and to develop small molecule antibacterial and antiviral drugs that bind to RNA. To accomplish these tasks, Ibis scientists integrate functional genomics, bioinformatics and RNA-focused chemistry programs with novel high-throughput, mass spectrometry-based screening methods.

Source: Isis Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

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