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AstraZeneca Launches Four New Collaborations to Feature CRISPR in R&D

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – AstraZeneca today announced four collaborations to implement CRISPR/cas9 genome editing technology across its drug discovery platform.

The firm's collaborators are the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, The Innovative Genomics Initiative, Thermo Fisher Scientific, and the Broad and Whitehead Institutes.

Under the terms of the agreements, AstraZeneca will share cell lines and compounds with its partners and work with them to publish findings of its application of CRISPR/cas9 technology in peer-reviewed journals.

"CRISPR is a simple yet powerful tool that enables us to manipulate genes of potential importance in disease pathways and examine the impact of these modifications in a highly precise way," Mene Pangalos, AstraZeneca executive VP of innovative medicines and early development, said in a statement. Lorenz Mayr, VP of reagents and assay development, added that using CRISPR technology to precisely edit genomes in recombinant cell lines and disease models "should enable us to identify novel targets, build better test systems for drug discovery, and enhance the translatability of our efficacy and safety models."

The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute partnership will focus on deleting specific genes relevant to cancer, cardiovascular, metabolic, respiratory, autoimmune and 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/cas9 guide RNA libraries.

With the Innovative Genomics Initiative, a joint venture between the University of California, Berkeley and University of California, San Francisco, AstraZeneca will work to understand the role CRISPR-cas9 genes play in disease pathology.

The firm will screen Thermo Fisher's guide RNA libraries, which target individual human genes and gene families, against its own cell lines to find new disease targets.

The Broad Institute and Whitehead Institute collaboration will also focus on screening for drug targets, using cancer cell lines and a genome-wide CRIPSR/cas9 guide RNA library.

Further terms of the collaborations weren't disclosed.