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Trana Discovery and Southern Research Institute Collaborate to Discover New Classes of Drugs for the Treatment of HIV
  Unique assay system to identify anti-infectives that inhibit tRNA
Press release from companies
CARY, NC and BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (Dec. 13, 2006) - Trana Discovery, a drug discovery company, and Southern Research Institute, a contract research organization conducting basic and applied preclinical drug research, today announced a collaborative research agreement that could lead to the discovery of new classes of drugs for the treatment of patients infected with HIV. Under the agreement, Trana will screen Southern Research's extensive collection of nucleosides to identify anti-infectives with a novel mechanism of action.
Trana Discovery technology can help discover innovative classes of anti-infective compounds found in chemical libraries held by partner organizations. Trana's screening assays identify compounds that interrupt the lifecycle of pathogens through a new mechanism of action-the inhibition of transfer RNA (tRNA).
Unique probes are employed in a high-throughput screening process to identify compounds that possess tRNA inhibitory activity. By inhibiting the role of tRNA and crippling protein assembly, protein synthesis cannot proceed, thus stopping pathogen growth and the spread of infection.
Most pathogens responsible for causing infectious diseases-including HIV, the virus that causes AIDS-require tRNA for replication. A specific assay will be used that identifies inhibitors of the tRNA recruited by HIV during its protein synthesis and assembly phase of replication. Trana's innovative technology and intellectual property enable its partners to exploit this phase, which for HIV has been unexplored to date.
Southern Research is a recognized leader in the field of nucleoside chemistry and biology. It has a long-standing successful drug discovery program with more than 20 drug candidates entering clinical trials and six approved for use. Southern Research initiated a program two years ago to expand their biological and chemical diversity through external collaborations.
"We have been looking to screen our proprietary repository against new targets to identify compounds that deserve further investigation," said David Harris, director of Drug Discovery Business Development at Southern Research. "We're particularly excited about the possibility of discovering a new class of anti-HIV medicine through the use of the tRNA mechanism of action."
Should one or more of the nucleosides show positive results during testing, future research on these compounds would be warranted.
"We have been seeking compounds to demonstrate commercialization opportunities for our tRNA intellectual property and for further chemical optimization," said Steve Peterson, CEO of Trana Discovery. "This agreement is a great step toward the advancement of our technology. We are very excited about collaborating with Southern Research."
In the future, the companies plan to explore a variety of joint projects to discover new compounds for the treatment of other serious bacterial and viral infectious diseases.
About Southern Research Institute
Southern Research Institute is a not-for-profit organization that conducts basic and applied research in the areas of preclinical drug discovery and drug development, advanced engineering, environmental and energy production. To date, Southern Research has discovered six FDA-approved cancer drugs and discovered four additional drugs that are currently in clinical trials. No other company or institution has brought six of its own cancer drug discoveries to market. Further, Southern Research has evaluated almost 70 percent of all other FDA-approved cancer drugs on the market. Seventy-five percent of all FDA approved HIV drugs have also been evaluated at Southern Research during development. For more information, please visit
About Trana Discovery, Inc.
Trana Discovery is a drug discovery company whose technology identifies compounds that interrupt the lifecycle of pathogens through a novel mechanism of action - the inhibition of transfer RNA (tRNA). The company enables exclusive rights to new classes of drugs used to treat serious bacterial, fungal and viral infectious diseases. The use of Trana Discovery technology can unlock the value - human and financial - hidden in drug compound libraries and can shorten the time between drug discovery and availability. Trana Discovery is commercializing technology that has been under development for nearly 20 years at North Carolina State University. The company is located in Cary, North Carolina. For more information, please visit
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