Rockland Immunochemicals has received another $225,000 phase I Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the National Institute of Health (NIH). This time the grant will be used to develop synthetic antibodies for detection and quantitation of modified RNAs.

Synthetic antibodies, also known as aptamers, can be used in basic research for discovery, but can also be used in applied research as biosensors for the diagnosis of diseases and detection of small molecules. 

A proof-of-principle project will develop high-affinity and target-specific aptamers, as well as aptamer-based detection assays for medically relevant modified RNAs. Rockland said it will be pursuing the generation of novel aptamer based biosensors. As a result of this project, Rockland plans to create a comprehensive set of affinity reagents to be used in microarray profiling of RNA modifications in mouse models of neurological disorders. These products will be used to investigate the function of RNA editing in general biological processes and can offer specific reagents for interrogation of the central nervous system, according to the company.

In September, Rockland received a $224,473 SBIR grant from the NIH's National Heart Lung and Blood Institute to develop an antibody-based point-of-care device that can diagnose sickle cell disease.