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Horizon Discovery, U of Torino Win Cancer Grant

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Horizon Discovery said today that it will share a $500,000 EU grant with Italy's University of Torino Medical School for a joint research effort to develop models of inherited and somatic genetic variations that could be used by other researchers to research new drugs and diagnostics for cancer.

The three-year research program, funded under the EUREKA and EU Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Development, will explore a class of non-coding mutations that have been associated with cancer

Once the researchers have established that the biological role of these mutations has been confirmed in cancer they will be made available to the research community and Horizon will profile them against all known existing cancer drugs that may be used to target them.

Cambridge, UK-based Horizon plans to eventually use the research to develop a panel of new patient-relevant X-Man disease models and other new inventions that the company plans to commercialize.

Horizon will conduct the in vitro gene engineering and drug screening, and Torino Professor Alberto Bardelli will identify other SNPS for modeling which could be used for developing personalized treatments for cancer.

Horizon Discovery CEO Chris Torrance said in a statement that while personalized cancer medicines and diagnostics are coming closer to reality, the "bottleneck now is decoding which of the thousands of genetic variations that are truly important in driving the progression of cancer and other diseases," and development of new models for new therapies.

The study is "designed to unequivocally establish the causal relationship between cancer associated SNPs and biological perturbations of key cellular features such as gene transcription, alterations in DNA-protein interactions and drug responses," Bardelli explained.

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