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Horizon Discovery, UK's ICR in Cancer Target Screening Pact

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Horizon Discovery and the UK's Institute of Cancer Research announced today a collaboration to screen the human genome for drug targets that could potentially kill cancer cells.

The collaborators will use Horizon's X-Man cancer models along with ICR Professor Alan Ashworth's expertise in functional genomics to look for weak spots in cancer cells that could be targeted by anti-cancer drugs. The alliance will build on Ashworth's previous work in "synthetic lethality," which was demonstrated by his discovery that PARP inhibitors "show dramatic selectivity for breast cancers carrying mutant BRCA genes," the partners said in a joint statement.

Horizon and Ashworth plan to build a high-throughput synthetic lethality screening platform based on the latest generation of pooled shRNA libraries and deep sequencing technologies. Horizon's X-Man isogenic cell lines will be deployed in such screens.

In addition, they said they intend to collaborate with other companies looking to rapidly identify new targets and biomarkers that may effectively address specific patient cohorts.

"We will use the X-Man models to more effectively deconstruct the many important cancer genotypes for which conventional pharma drug discovery pipelines have still not yielded viable drug candidates or targets, such as mutant KRAS and p53," said Horizon CEO Chris Torrance in a statement. "Such genes are major drivers of cancer development and their resistance to existing therapies."