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AstraZeneca establishes four CRISPR technology pacts

Posted on 02 February 2015

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AstraZeneca announces collaborations to use CRISPR technology for genome editing across its drug discovery platform.

AstraZeneca announced four research collaborations aimed at harnessing the power of CRISPR, a pioneering genome-editing technique, across its entire discovery platform in the company’s key therapeutic areas.

The technology will allow AstraZeneca to identify and validate new drug targets in preclinical models that closely resemble human disease. AstraZeneca will share cell lines and compounds with its partners and work with them to publish findings of its application of CRISPR technology in peer-reviewed journals, contributing to broader scientific progress in the field.

The collaborations complement AstraZeneca’s in-house CRISPR programme and will build on the company’s ‘open innovation’ approach to research and development.

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AstraZeneca’s research collaborations are with the following institutions:

The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Cambridge, UK

Under the terms of the collaboration with the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, research will focus on deleting specific genes relevant to cancer, cardiovascular, metabolic, respiratory, autoimmune & inflammatory diseases and regenerative medicine to understand their precise role in these conditions. AstraZeneca will provide cell lines that can be targeted using the Sanger Institute’s collection of genome-wide CRISPR guide-RNA libraries to generate populations of cells in which defined genes are switched off. Genes will subsequently be identified by next-generation sequencing and cell populations tested to validate the effects of a given gene on a wide range of physical and biological traits.

The Innovative Genomics Initiative, California

The Innovative Genomics Initiative (IGI) is a joint venture between the University of California, Berkeley and University of California, San Francisco. The research collaboration will focus on either inhibiting (CRISPRi) or activating (CRISPRa) genes to understand their role in disease pathology. The IGI and AstraZeneca will work closely together to identify and validate gene targets relevant to cancer, cardiovascular, metabolic, respiratory, autoimmune and inflammatory diseases and regenerative medicine to understand their precise role in these conditions.

Thermo Fisher Scientific, Waltham, Massachusetts

Under the terms of the collaboration with Thermo Fisher Scientific, a world-leading reagent and instrument provider, AstraZeneca will receive RNA-guide libraries that target individual known human genes and gene families. AstraZeneca can screen these guides against cell lines to identify new disease targets.

Broad Institute/Whitehead Institute, Cambridge, Massachusetts

The collaboration with the Broad Institute and Whitehead Institute will evaluate a genome-wide CRISPR library against a panel of cancer cell lines with a view to identifying new targets for cancer drug discovery.

In addition to the new collaborations, AstraZeneca’s in-house programme is currently adapting CRISPR technology to streamline and accelerate the production of cell lines and translational models that mimic complex genomic and disease-relevant scenarios.

 

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