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Desktop Genetics, Imperial College London Receive $430K Grant to Build CRISPR Software

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Genome editing software company Desktop Genetics and Imperial College London's cancer epigenetics unit have received a £300,000 ($430,000) grant from Innovate UK, which they will use to develop software tools that selectively design CRISPR/Cas9 targets against cancer cell lines that are characterized at the epigenetic level.

The planned software tool will combine Desktop Genetics' predictive biomodelling capabilities with heterogeneous genomic and epigenomic datasets. It will help researchers investigate the epigenetic mechanisms that underpin resistance to chemotherapy in ovarian cancer cell lines.

"This project will combine the best elements of epigenetic research, bioinformatics, and CRISPR to create a tool that solves a real problem in the field of oncology," Bob Brown, chair of translational oncology in Imperial College's department of surgery and cancer, said in a statement. "The approach of epigenetic editing using CRISPR can potentially target precise epigenetic changes in a personalized manner to specific genes to make tumor cells more sensitive to chemotherapy drugs. Such targeting will avoid some of the non-specific side effects in cancer and normal cells caused by current epigenetic therapies."

Leigh Brody, Desktop Genetics' director of genomic services, added "We hope that an integrated omics approach to epigenetic CRISPR will support target validation of small-molecule therapies modifying the epigenetic landscape."

Recently, Desktop Genetics received an undisclosed investment from Illumina, which it said it would use to develop its platform and refine its CRISPR-related algorithms.

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