April 27, 2011 | last updated March 25, 2012 10:04 am

$500K For UMass, RXi Partnership

The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center today announced a $500,000-grant to help the University of Massachusetts Medical School and Worcester-based RXi Pharmaceuticals work together to find a new treatment for ALS, a deadly central nervous system disease.

The goal of the collaboration will be to use RXi's technology to shut off the gene that causes the disease.

RXi will match the grant, according to the center.

"Important advances in medicine can only be realized and treatments can only be developed and brought to market if the relevant research is funded," Dr. Harvey Lodish, chair of the center's scientific advisory board, said in a statement.

ALS is currently incurable and is fatal within five years in all cases. The principal investigator in the partnership will be Dr. Robert Brown of UMass.

It is the second cooperative research matching grant that the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center has awarded to UMass Medical School and RXi. The two partnered in 2009 to develop orally delivered RNAi therapeutics.

RXi was founded in part by Craig Mello, who won the Nobel Prize in 2006 for his work towards the discovery of RNAi, a technology that can be used to switch off disease-causing genes.

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