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Gold Worth DNA

RUSNANOPRIZE-2016 International Prize in Nanotechnology was awarded to Professor of Northwestern University (the USA) Chad Mirkin and the company Nanosphere Inc founded by him for the development of spherical nucleic acids (SNAs), globular forms of RNA and DNA on gold carriers that are widely used in medicine and biotechnology. The ceremony took place at the forum “Open Innovation” in the tech park “Skolkovo”.

“Today we have the intrigue: it is the first time we are in the situation, when the winner is not just a scientific leader, but also the creator of businesses, which is powerful, growing, rapidly advancing, based on own ideas, - the Board Chairman of  “UK “RUSNANO” LLC, Anatoly Chubais, started the ceremony with these words. He stressed that the authoritative international commission, which is represented by world-class experts that are important to support those developers who are significant not only as successful scientist, but also were able to achieve significant results in the industry, works over the selection of laureates.

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Ruben Aganbegyan, the member of the Capital Group Board of Directors of “Discovery”, sponsoring the ceremony, said: “If you open the newspaper, you will see a lot of articles about the future of the banking industry or the absence of the future. For us, as for the people who invest money in the prominent innovation it is very important to develop this ecosystem in our country. We welcome this award and take part in it with great pleasure”.

Emeritus Professor and Head of the Department of Biomedical Engineering at George Washington University, Igor Efimov, told the reporters how the experts chose the most worthy of the contenders: “We had a difficult task: there were three finalists with great impact both in science and in business. The winner made such a big contribution in both areas that I think we made the right decision. The fact is that spherical nucleic acid can solve several problems at once. One of the most important issues is how to deliver the medicine into the cell through the membrane. This is a very big problem. Typically, such a “targeted” delivery occurs via viral or chemical agents, as well as an electric current, which disrupts the membrane. Spherical nucleic acid technology can significantly simplify this procedure, since these nanoparticles easily pass through the membrane. But the most important thing is that they are very accurate, “targeted” at interacting with RNA. The contribution of this technology in biomedicine is a giant. It is expected that there will be a breakthrough solutions in oncology. Several years ago, Chad Mirkin was the most cited chemist in the world. There were more than 100 thousand references to his publications - it is a huge amount”.

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Chad Mirkin discovered spherical nucleic acid in 1996. The nucleic acid sequences are chosen so as to correspond to the target gene. SNAs themselves consist of tightly packed and strictly oriented nucleic acids located on the surface of spherical particles of colloidal gold. As a part of such particles, the nucleic acid acquires new physical, chemical and biological properties. The discoverer has applied the discovery in molecular diagnostics, gene expression regulation, pharmaceutical industry (targeted medicine delivery). Professor Mirkin needed spherical nucleic acids in research in the field of genomics and proteomics. This design is used for the detection of specific RNA or proteins of pathogens, which can’t be detected by other means. To commercialize their technologies Mirkin founded several start-ups, in which hundreds of experts are working at the moment. He is the author of more than 900 patents; technology of SNAs formed the basis of more than 1,800 commercial products sold around the world. Annual turnover of only one of the products on the basis of developments Mirkin - Verigene System, that is an automatic screening systems and diagnostic panels for influenza viruses, staph infections, diseases of the blood coagulation system and others (more than 50 different tests) is more than 40 million dollars. Nanosphere Inc Company (Professor Mirkin is one of its co-founders), a subsidiary of the Luminex Corporation, which produces these diagnostic systems, has also been awarded with the Prize.

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“I am honored to be the winner of the award RUSNANOPRIZE because I work in the same place where nanotechnology is very important. It is Northwestern University in the US. I have had different awards, but RUSNANOPRIZE Award is special, and I am happy to receive this prize - Chad Mirkin addressed the audience, - I am glad that RUSNANO is promoting nanotechnology in Russia and around the world, because they are the future”.

Let’s notice that RUSNANOPRIZE Award aims to promote the integration of the business needs and interests of the scientific community. It is awarded not only to scientists for research and development and inventions in the field of nanotechnologies, but also the companies that first managed to introduce the development of mass production with an annual turnover of at least $ 10 million and achieve commercial success through the introduction. This prize is thematic and since 2009 it is awarded to both domestic and foreign scientists and companies. Traditionally, it is awarded at the Forum “Open Innovation”. The prize of this year is devoted to medicine, pharmacology and biotechnology. Award ceremony of RUSNANOPRIZE 2016 is sponsored by Financial group “Discovery”. In 2016, the monetary portion of the Prize was 3 million rubles.

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