Horizon Discovery establishes three new Centres of Excellence in rAAV-mediated cellular genome editing
Cambridge Enterprise portfolio company Horizon Discovery has established three new Centres of Excellence (CoE) for rAAV gene editing: the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, in Boston, the University of Liverpool and the Babraham Institute in Cambridge.
Through the CoE programme, Horizon will support Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the University of Liverpool in their application of Horizon’s GENESIS gene engineering technology, in order to generate human isogenic cell lines incorporating genes involved in the development of specific diseases, with a focus on cancer.
The Dana-Farber CoE will focus on epigenetic mechanisms involved in the differentiation of normal stem cells and development of normal tissues, and how abnormalities in this process lead to initiation and progression of tumours. They will also develop isogenic cellular models to understand the roles of specific epigenetic genes and their role in breast cancer.
The University of Liverpool is interested the Ras family of proteins (N-, H- and K-Ras) which are involved in many key cellular processes, and how they produce different biological outputs despite their high degree of identity. The University will produce isogenic cellular models that express different forms of these Ras proteins from their endogenous loci.
The Babraham Institute will use Horizon’s rAAV gene editing technology to understand the different PI3K isoforms and other components of the PI3K signalling networks. PI3K enzymes are critical regulators involved in many cellular responses.
“We are delighted these three new world class institutes have joined our Centres of Excellence program,” said Dr Rob Howes, Principal Scientist, Horizon. “Horizon is hoping to continue expanding the CoE network through 2012, and we look forward to working with an increasing number of excellent scientific groups.”
Horizon has also announced that it has launched a conference travel bursary awards scheme to support PhD students and early-stage researchers working with X-MAN cell lines. Once per quarter, scientists will be invited to submit an abstract of work they intend to present at an upcoming conference. Horizon will select up to five of these entries per quarter, to which they will award bursaries of £250 for national conference attendance, and £500 for international conference attendance. Scientists successful in their application are asked to write a one page report following the conference, which along with their poster will be posted to Horizon’s rAAVers.org website.
Horizon’s CoE program encompasses academic and not-for-profit research groups or laboratories to which Horizon commits resources to provide training and open access to its proprietary rAAV-mediated human gene-editing platform, GENESIS. Horizon also recently launched an online support site, www.rAAVers.org, for scientists working with rAAV-mediated genome editing.
The new human isogenic cell lines generated by the CoEs will be exclusively licensed to Horizon in return for future product royalties. Horizon will also have an exclusive option to license new intellectual property developed. This forms part of Horizon’s strategy to generate at least 2,500 new X-MAN (gene X- Mutant And Normal) models of cancer, neurodegenerative, and cardiovascular disease. These models support drug discovery researchers in their efforts to understand how complex genetic diseases manifest themselves in real patients, and help rationalise many aspects of drug development, reducing the cost of bringing to market new personalized therapies.
The centres are part of the GENESIS Gene Editing Consortium, which includes rAAV GENESIS pioneers the University of Washington, the University of Torino, Johns Hopkins University, the Translational Genomics Institute (TGen), the University of Minnesota, the University of Maryland, Case Western Reserve University and the University of Pittsburgh.