Discovering the Functions of Human Genes

Period of Performance: 08/01/1998 - 01/31/1999


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Acacia Biosciences, Inc.
Richmond, CA 94806
Principal Investigator


Knowledge of human gene function is necessary for identifying molecular targets for drug therapy. Although only 400 gene products are targeted by existing pharmaceutical compounds, there are thought to be ten times that number of potential targets present in the human genome. The spectacular growth of cDNA sequencing capability has resulted in the production of thousands of human gene sequences for which there is not known function. A novel technology developed at Acacia Biosciences, the yeast Genome Reporter Matrix, has enormous potential as a means of obtaining information about human gene products and their possible functions. The Genome Reporter Matrix can reveal changes in expression of every gene in the yeast genome individually, in response to the expression of a human gene. The project described here will test its ability to provide relevant information about interactions of yeast gene products with human proteins whose functions are already known. If these experiments prove the feasibility of the approach, the Genome Reporter Matrix will be a valuable tool for assigning roles and pathway interactions to new genes, thus identifying those that are likely to be useful targets for drug intervention. PROPOSED COMMERCIAL APPLICATION: New human genes are being sequenced at a prodigious rate. A profound interest of the pharmaceutical industry is to identify those genes that represent potential molecular targets for drug therapy. Our method of discovering gene functions will therefore be of interest to the pharmaceutical and genomics industries. We will construct a database of yeast expression profiles that result from expression of a large set of human genes. Our database will be made available to pharmaceutical companies on a subscription basis, much as Incyte and Human Genome Sciences have done. Additionally, on a contract basis we will profile individual or sets of human genes that are of interest to corporate partners.