Sierra Sciences

Sierra Sciences

company_name = Sierra Sciences
company_type = Privately held
foundation = 1999
location = Reno, Nevada
key_people = Richard Offerdahl: Chairman of the Board and COO; Pierluigi Zappacosta: President and CEO; William H. Andrews: Founder and Vice President, Research
industry = Biotechnology
homepage = []

Sierra Sciences, LLC is a biotechnology company founded by William H. Andrews, former director of molecular biology at Geron Corporation. [Citation
date = July 7 | year = 2007 | title = Geron Corp. Licensee TA Sciences Announces Landmark 7/07/07 Teleconference | publisher = PR Newswire Association | url =
] Andrews founded Sierra Sciences in 1999 in Reno, Nevada with the goal of preventing and/or reversing cellular senescence, and ultimately curing diseases associated with human aging, including the aging process itself. [Citation
year = 2006 | title = Sierra Sciences| publisher = Sierra Sciences | url =


In humans, aging is strongly correlated with the length of an individual's telomeres, the repetitive DNA at the ends of each chromosome. Each time a cell in the body divides, its telomeres become shorter. [Citation
year = 2008 | title = Are Telomeres the Key to Aging and Cancer?| author = Siegel, Lee J. | publisher = The University of Utah, Genetic Science Learning Center | url =
] Eventually, telomeres will shorten to the point where the cell is unable to divide (the "Hayflick limit"). The enzyme telomerase adds these DNA sequence repeats to the telomere, re-lengthening it. In humans, telomerase is expressed in embryonic stem cells and some other cells, but most somatic cells do not express it. [Citation
year = 2002 | title = The Molecular Basis of Human Cancer| author = Coleman, William B. and Tsongalis, Gregory J. | publisher = Humana Press | url =

While working at Geron Corporation, Andrews co-discovered the RNA component of human telomerase ("hTR"), as well as the gene for hTR, and was issued U.S. patent #5,583,016. [Citation
year = 1996 | title = Mammalian telomerase| publisher = United States Patent | url =
] [Citation
year = 1995 | title = The RNA component of human telomerase.| publisher = Science | url =
] For this discovery, Andrews was awarded second place as "National Inventor of the Year" in 1997 by the Intellectual Property Owners Association. [Citation
year = 2006 | title = Company overview| publisher = Sierra Sciences | url =
] Andrews also co-discovered the protein component of human telomerase ("hTERT") and its gene, for which he was issued U.S. patent #6,261,836. [Citation
year = 2001 | title = Telomerase| publisher = United States Patent | url =
] The hTERT gene is present in all human cells, but is repressed in most.

In 1997, Andrews left Geron, and in 1999 founded Sierra Sciences to pursue the anti-aging implications of these discoveries, intending to find a drug that would "switch on" this repressed gene.

Company History

At the time of its inception, Sierra Sciences' President was Dan Fylstra, founder of VisiCorp.

In 2002, Richard Offerdahl, co-founder of Zycad Corporation and former director of Digi International, assumed the position of Chairman of the Board of Sierra Sciences. In 2003, Offerdahl was elected Chief Operating Officer.

In 2003, Pierluigi Zappacosta, co-founder of Logitech, was elected President and Chief Executive Officer.


In 2001, Sierra Sciences discovered a repressor binding site (dubbed "Site C") that blocks the expression of telomerase reverse transcriptase ("TERT"). For this discovery, Sierra Sciences was issued U.S. patent #6,686,159 in 2004. [Citation | year = 2004 | title = Methods and compositions for modulating telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT) expression| publisher = United States Patent | url =] Sierra Sciences discovered another repressor bind site, "GC-Box 5," in 2004, for which it was issued patent #7,279,328 in 2007. [Citation | year = 2007 | title = Methods and compositions for modulating telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT) expression| publisher = United States Patent | url =,279,328.PN.&OS=PN/7,279,328&RS=PN/7,279,328]

Sierra Sciences discovered methods of assaying TERT promoter modulatory agents, allowing the company to efficiently check a variety of compounds to see if they inhibit repression of hTERT, in 2005. For this discovery, it was issued U.S. patent #7,226,744 in 2007. [Citation | year = 2007 | title = Assays for TERT promoter modulatory agents using a telomerase structural RNA component| publisher = United States Patent | url =]

In 2007, Sierra Sciences discovered a small-molecule, drug-like compound that turns on the expression of telomerase in human cells. The compound is internally known as "C0057684." The company is presently characterizing its mechanism of action. [Citation | year = 2008 | title = The Discovery of C0057684, a Telomerase Activity Inducing Compound| author = Tanglao, Shawna, et al. |publisher = The Methuselah Foundation | url =]

ee also

* Telomere
* Telomerase
* Life extension


External links

* [ Company web site]

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