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SAGE® Labs, Ekam Imaging, Inc. Partner To Develop Preclinical Imaging Assays To Screen Therapies Of Neurodegenerative Disease

ST. LOUIS, Oct. 16, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --   Sigma-Aldrich ® Corporation (Nasdaq: SIAL) today announced that Sigma Advanced Genetic Engineering (SAGE) Labs, an initiative of Sigma ® Life Science, and Ekam Imaging, Inc. have partnered to develop a suite of preclinical services based on the advanced translational power of genetically engineered rat models from SAGE Labs and Ekam's expertise in functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) technology. For more information on SAGE Labs, visit

Unlike the fMRI studies currently performed in drug development that require anesthetized, unconscious animals, Ekam Imaging's fMRI translational technology produces detailed maps of a conscious animal's brain activity, a state that much better represents the human condition.

"The rat models created by SAGE Labs have been genetically modified to reflect patient-relevant mutations and exhibit highly relevant, robust phenotypes. The combination of these rats with Ekam's imaging platform presents a transformative opportunity for translational neuroscience programs. Ultimately, these types of studies will lead to better drugs targeting neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases," said Edward Weinstein, Ph.D., Director of SAGE Labs.

"Probing the brain functions of a conscious animal, specifically in rats which are prized by the neuroscience community for intelligence and complex social behaviors, produces data that is much more representative of a potential therapy's effects on human processes," said Mark Nedelman, MS, MBA, President and CEO of Ekam Imaging.

Nedelman's company is currently producing a detailed map of neural activity in SAGE Lab's Pink1 gene knockout rat, which SAGE Labs generated for The Michael J. Fox Foundation to model Parkinson's disease. The Pink1 gene knockout rat exhibits delayed-onset motor deficits, a key phenotype of Parkinson's disease in humans.

Sigma and Ekam plan to publicly launch services specific to SAGE Labs' neuroscience rat models in early 2013.

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