By Matthew Willett

Archemix Corp. plans to use ribozymes as reporters, catalytic molecules that can identify proteins with pinpoint precision.

The company, formed just a year ago in Boston, recently entered an alliance with Ribozyme Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Boulder, Colo., for allosteric ribozyme technology. Archemix¿s president, Martin Stanton, called the technology ¿critical.¿

¿Our focus is to use allosteric ribozymes as detection molecules for proteomics detection,¿ Stanton told BioWorld Today. ¿It¿s a method for detecting proteins, and one of our goals is to make a protein detection chip, a proteomics chip for use in drug development.¿

The technology, RiboReporters, allows researchers to perform parallel detection of individual molecules in complex mixtures.

Stanton said privately held Archemix still is in the early stages of development, but its scientists already have gathered proof-of-concept evidence that indicates the technology can be used to detect molecules ranging from ions to proteins.

¿Ribozymes are structures that carry out catalytic reactions,¿ Stanton explained. ¿Two of our founders have shown that they are able to switch on and off the action of ribozymes through interaction with another molecule, so if what you¿re interested in doing is detecting that second molecule, we can use the ribozyme as a reporter of its presence.¿

Archemix has gone through one round of financing to date, an $8.25 million funding through institutional investors that included Atlas Ventures, of Boston; Prospect Venture Partners LP, of Palo Alto, Calif.; and Rho Management Trust II, of New York.

Stanton said his company will pursue a business model that calls for partnerships with biotechnology companies seeking target identification, target validation and lead optimization.

He said Archemix plans to have a working small-scale proteomics chip within six months. He expects that companies will be interested.

¿I think many people right now are searching for the right technology to make a protein chip,¿ he said. ¿It¿s of critical importance for drug discovery.¿

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