MicroProbe Therapeutics, a division of MicroProbe Corp., hasreceived a $50,000 Phase I small business innovation researchgrant to determine the best approach for targeting antigeneand antisense agents against viruses.

Under the grant from the National Institutes of Health, whichwas to be announced today, MicroProbe will use the hepatitis Bvirus as an experimental model system. The company will aimnovel antigene agents against the genetic code of the hepatitisB virus to determine the agents' ability to block the virus fromreproducing within host cells.

MicroProbe's antigene technology aims to block permanentlythe activity of particular genes, using probes comprised ofoligonucleotides designed to bind to DNA of the target gene.Antisense oligonucleotides target messenger RNA to inhibitprotein synthesis, but leave the DNA source largely intact,MicroProbe said.

"Hepatitis B is an ideal model system because the model cellline used makes hepatitis B virus particles and the direct geneproduct is a surface antigen, which makes it easy to measurethe effects of the oligonucleotides," said Rich Meyer, vicepresident of R&D for MicroProbe Therapeutics, which islocated in Bothell, Wash. Privately held MicroProbe Corp. isbased in Garden Grove, Calif. -- KB

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