The St. Joseph systems biology company GeneGo Inc. announced that it had been awarded a Small Business Innovation Research grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to develop an integrated systems biology platform for research into the causes and treatment of tobacco dependence, nicotine addiction, smoking cessation and tobacco and nicotine withdrawal.

The SBIR grant will be used to develop a database and systems biology tool-set specifically designed for the study of the pathways involved in nicotine addiction and withdrawal, mutations and sequence heterogeneity in human genes and their controlling regions that affect these responses, and the evaluation of new targets, therapeutic strategies, and biomarkers for treatment of nicotine addiction.

“One in five adults in the U.S. smokes, according to the CDC, and it is estimated that smoking kills 1,000 Americans per day,” said Richard Brennan, director of toxicology at GeneGo and principal investigator on the grant. “A holistic understanding of the complex biological pathways involved in the pharmacological and addictive effects of nicotine is needed to better understand and treat the causes of addiction and symptoms of withdrawal to help those who want to quit be successful. This project will gather existing knowledge and data to reconstruct these pathways and make them accessible to researchers and clinicians working in a variety of areas related to this persistent problem via MetaCore.”

Added Julie Grant, GeneGo vice president of business development:  “The NIDA has recognized the strength of GeneGo’s scientific expertise and our capabilities in providing new and critical systems biology tools for disease research. Similar previous projects in Cystic Fibrosis and other diseases are already helping to deliver new drugs and treatment strategies to clinicians, and we hope that this project will do the same to help understand nicotine addiction.” 

GeneGo, Inc. develops systems biology technology such as compound based pathway analysis, cheminformatics and bioinformatics software for life science research. The original computational MetaDiscovery platform allows an integration and expert analysis of different kinds of experimental data and relevant bioactive chemistry within the framework of curated biological pathways and networks. GeneGo’s flagship product, MetaCore 6.3, assists pharmaceutical scientists in the areas of target selection and validation, data mining in biology, identification of biomarkers for disease states and toxicology. The second product, MetaDrug 6.3, is designed for prediction of human metabolism, toxicity and biological effects for novel small molecules compounds.

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