Product News: Cellecta, Inc. Announces Launch of the Open Source DECIPHER Project to Provide Free Access to RNAi Genetic Screen Tools

13 Dec 2010

Cellecta, Inc., a provider of screening services for gene function analysis and therapeutic drug target discovery, announced the launch of the DECIPHER Project—an open source platform for genome-wide RNAi screening which offers reagents for running genetic knockdown screens, software tools for data analysis, and an open database of genetic knockdown screening results. Funded, in part, by several NIH grants, some jointly undertaken with collaborators at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, the Roswell Park Cancer Institute, and The Scripps Research Institute, the DECIPHER Project objective is to provide free reagents and software tools for researchers to perform and analyze comprehensive shRNA knockdown screens and to develop a standardized yet versatile platform for collecting and comparing results from different studies and labs.

Potential advances in understanding gene function and identifying novel therapeutic targets from the abundance of RNAi studies over the past several years have been impeded by the diversity of libraries, infrastructure required for arrayed format screening, reagent cost, and difficulty handling statistical data analysis. The DECIPHER Project endeavors to create a more cohesive interface and freely publicly available platform on which screening studies, experimental designs, and interpretation of results can be shared between different research groups. The intent is to provide increased access to this powerful, yet technically demanding, approach for analyzing gene functions.

“We want to enable any basic researcher investigating disease progression, looking at cell signaling pathways, or identifying the genes involved in a range of biological processes, to have the basic tools to conduct genome-scale genetic screens,” said Alex Chenchik, Cellecta President & CEO. Alex continued, “We initiated the DECIPHER Project with the intent to create interest and make RNAi screening using pooled lentiviral shRNA libraries available for any researcher on a limited budget. Shared high quality validated shRNA libraries and optimized genetic screen protocols will help accomplish Cellecta’s core mission to advance and speed up drug target discovery and development of novel therapeutics.”

Under the open source DECIPHER Project, researchers from academic and non-profit institutions can obtain, at no cost, pooled lentiviral-based shRNA libraries with basic controls, and access software tools for data analysis and interpretation. In exchange for receiving the materials, researchers need only agree to publicly share all genetic screen data generated after publication. Currently, libraries are available for human and mouse that target knockdown of 10,000 well-annotated genes known to be involved in intercellular signaling, disease progression, or are targeted by current therapeutics. More library modules targeting additional human and mouse genes, as well as rat genes, are planned for release in 2011.