After cardiovascular diseases, cancer is the second leading cause of death in Europe. In cooperation with industrial companies and academic research institutes, the NMI uses functional genomic approaches adapted to drug target identification and validation in cancer research.
The NMI applies RNA interference (RNAi) to particulary inhibit the expression of genes involved in signaling cascades relevant for diseases like cancer. This reveals potential biomarkers for the tracing of drug effects as well as new targets for development of pharmaceutical drugs.
Given the high capacity required for the separate analysis of individual siRNAs or shRNAs from RNAi libraries in functional assays, the NMI is developing robot-assisted routines for the automation of analytical processes. These include plasmid preparation, gene transfer into cells and functional assays analysing changes effected in cells.